Write:OutLoud – A Tool to Empower and Motivate Frustrated Learners

by Cindy Richardson

Students with mild disabilities often face the same academic challenges year after year. Their challenges may include the inability to read and understand written material, write legibly, express their ideas in grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs, attend to and comprehend lecture content or simple directions, and/or perform mathematical computations.  These students are less likely to become frustrated, discouraged, and at some point, disengaged from their academic experiences if they are provided timely assistance through technology.

Write:OutLoud is a multi-sensory or "talking" word processor that supports and empowers students with mild disabilities in a number of important ways.

Which Students Can Benefit?
  • Those who struggle with the task of composing grammatically correct sentences;

  • Those who could benefit from hearing omissions or inaccuracies in their work;

  • Those who could benefit from technology to support reading.

What Makes Write:OutLoud Effective?

When used as a tool to support writing:

  • This program can be used as a standard word processor.

  • This program can be customized to read students' words, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.

  • Students can hear inaccuracies or omissions in their writing.

  • A visual as well as an auditory prompt alert

    students that they have misspelled a word.

  • Misspelled words can be identified and corrected easily; a "talking spellchecker" highlights and reads the misspelled word as it appears in the sentence and then allows students to hear "suggested words" read.

  • Students can check for homonym errors by looking up the word in the program's "talking dictionary."

When used as a tool to support reading:

  • Teachers can scan or import tests, worksheets, reading material, or other class assignments into the program.

  • Students are able to hear as little or as much of this text read at any given time.

  • If students are unsure of a word's meaning, they can highlight the word, look it up in the program's "talking dictionary," and have the definition read.

  • If the imported text is an assignment or test, students can type their answers directly into a document, utilizing the program's writing supports.  

When used to enhance the curriculum:

In addition to the examples illustrated above, additional classroom applications of Write:OutLoud include the following:

  • Students can practice typing their vocabulary/spelling words into the program, checking for accuracy.

  • Students can define words by using the program's "talking dictionary".

  • Providing students with an unedited document containing common errors can heighten grammatical awareness.  Students circle the errors and check to see how many errors they have successfully identified by opening the document in Write:OutLoud.  Finally, students utilize the program's editing features to correct the document.

  • If students correspond with e-mail pen pals, e-mail messages can be imported into

    Write:OutLoud and read for struggling readers. Students can also use the writing support features of the program to construct messages in Write:OutLoud and then import them into their e-mail program for delivery.

  • Research gathered from the Internet or other sources for a writing assignment can be read in Write:OutLoud; students can use the program's "talking dictionary" to look up unfamiliar terms.

Write:OutLoud is manufactured by Don Johnston (1-800-999-4660), www.donjohnston.com. The program sells for $99 for single copies. If you would like more information about this software or if you would like to schedule a training opportunity, please contact Cindy Richardson, Assistive Technology Specialist, at (757) 221-2374 or e-mail [[cxric2]].

Date: April/May 2001