What assistive technology can help with writing?

Writing involves the physical ability to produce written language (mechanics) and the cognitive ability to put words together to create written expression (composing). Here are examples of assistive technology devices that may help a student with writing:

Assistive Technology for Mechanics of Writing

  • Regular pencil/pen
  • Pencil/pen with adaptive grip
  • Adapted paper (e.g. raised line, highlighted lines)
  • Slant board
  • Use of pre-written words/phrases
  • Templates
  • Portable word processors to keyboard instead of write
  • Computer with word processing software
  • Portable scanner with word processing software
  • Voice recognition software to word process

Assistive Technology Appropriate for Composing Written Material

  • Word cards/word book/word wall
  • Pocket dictionary/thesaurus
  • Writing templates
  • Electronic/talking electronic dictionary/thesaurus/spell checker (e.g. Franklin Speaking Homework Wiz)
  • Word processing w/ spell checker/grammar checker
  • Talking word processing
  • Abbreviation/expansion
  • Word processing w/ writing support
  • Multimedia software
  • Voice recognition software

When is it appropriate?

If a student is having difficulty either with the mechanics of writing or with composing written material, the above assistive technology may prove helpful. It is important to make sure that the student's difficulties are not due to a lack of instruction or to physical causes, which might be re-mediated. For most students, assistive technology for writing is used in addition to continued practice with pencil and paper.

Where can I go for help?

An Occupational Therapist is often the most knowledgeable service provider when the question is about mechanics of writing. A Special Education Teacher may be the most helpful when the problem is with composition. An assistive technology specialist may be knowledgeable about both of these areas. The IEP team should work with one of these people if they need help in determining the need for assistive technology.