Jan 9th , 2011
Technological solutions for people with learning disabilities can improve their quality of life and assist them to feel more confident in a regular learning environment. The task, which is simple to some, of translating one’s thoughts into written language can be extremely difficult for people with learning disabilities. Most people that have learning disabilities such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – adhd, dyslexia etc. will have some difficulty in reading. There are many degrees of reading difficulties and the means by which assistance is provided need to be adjusted specifically. Special education for people that have learning difficulties such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – adhd, and dyslexia uses assistive technology aids to help students. Such assistive technology tools may include the automatic grammar and spelling correction tool.
For people with learning disabilities the regular spell checker cannot always be useful. Some people that suffer from dyslexia, for example, will have spelling mistakes that are so far removed from the original word they intended to write that the regular spell checker will not recognize it or will offer them spelling corrections that contain words they did not intend to write. A context-sensitive spell checker will take a look, not only at each word in order to look for possible spelling errors, but also at the entire sentence and analyze context, just like a human being would. By analyzing context, the spell checker is able to recognize words with severe spelling mistakes and offer the right corrections. Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – adhd, dyslexia and other learning disabilities are able to view their original sentences, with all their mistakes alongside the corrected sentences. Seeing them one next to the other assists them to learn exactly what their error was. In addition to that the context-sensitive spell checker that possesses Text to Speech capability will assist students with learning difficulties to listen to their errors and to the corrections offered. Some people with learning disabilities will find it difficult to read the suggested corrections. The ability to listen to the various correction suggestions will allow students with learning difficulties to select, with ease, the right one. Text to speech can also assist by reading aloud long texts that would otherwise be very difficult for some people with learning disabilities to handle. It also makes proofreading much easier, as texts can be read and re-read to the student.
To learn more about proofreading check our proofreading guide.
Jan 9th , 2011
A simple grammar check, done with a regular grammar checker that does not have context awareness, can produce confusing results. Let’s take a look at a regular grammar check and then compare it with a context-aware grammar check.
If you type, in a regular grammar checker, the following sentence: “My English Vocabulary is much bitter now!” it will think everything is great with it. All the words are spelled correctly and there are no grammar mistakes so you will get no correction offers. The only problem is, you just wrote an extremely silly sentence in English and your Grammar checker thinks nothing is wrong with it. Your English will become bitter indeed.
The context-aware correction software will recognize your mistake right away because it relies, not only on a list of grammatical rules that are automatically applied, but on a vast database of English language sentences. This allows the context-smart Grammar check to recognize mistakes that are not directly related with misspelled words or grammar errors. The correction offered will be, of course: “My English Vocabulary is much better now!” Better indeed.
Let’s look at another sentence: “I developed a unique system of English liaison plans that improve Vocabulary and Grammar!”
Your regular, naughty, Grammar check will see nothing wrong with this sentence. Now think of the embarrassment of presenting such a sentence in a conference or a business meeting. Even very experienced writers can occasionally make silly mistakes like that, especially if they rely on a spell check to correct errors and do not proofread.
As you can see, you can get countless amusing results. The fact of the matter is, creating a coherent sentence in English, or in any other language for that matter, is all about context, and a spell checker that is not context aware will give you many results that are simply silly.
Our context-aware Grammar check will correct the above sentence and transform it into a logical and “moral” one: “I developed a unique system of English lesson plans that improve Vocabulary and Grammar!” Much better!
So if you don’t want to make liaison plans and speak bitter English please choose your automatic correction tool carefully. If it does not analyze a complete sentence in order to take a look at contextual connections it will probably appreciate silly sentences like the ones above and think nothing is wrong with them.
Jan 9th , 2011
One of the best ways to teach English grammar, spelling and other essential skills is by teaching students proper English writing techniques.
Grammar is one of those controversial subjects for teachers in the ESL classroom. The adult learner seems to feel more comfortable learning grammar rules in isolation, while the younger student may prefer to simply absorb them through the lesson material. Regardless of learning style, most students expect to learn grammar, along with English vocabulary, idioms, spelling and other compulsory topics.
For the English teacher, the dilemma is how to teach it, and how much grammar to teach. Some teachers love teaching grammar, and rely on it for a huge chunk of class time in their lesson plans. Others are less enthusiastic about teaching grammar, and concentrate on speaking, reading and writing in their lessons.
One way to approach the topic is through teaching grammar in use – going beyond drills and exercises to teach students English grammar in a way that is more natural and useful for their daily lives. If a student wants more in the way of drills, there is a wealth of online grammar activities to choose from.
However, the study of English is about more than just grammar. One often encounters students who have studied English for years in their native countries and cannot speak the language at a basic conversational level, yet are capable of making highly detailed distinctions on minor, esoteric grammar points.
To study English properly, a student should develop a broad set of skills which allow him or her to master the technical aspects of the language, while developing fluency, accuracy and a comfortable familiarity with the language which will allow him to communicate on a natural level.
One way to combine grammar and spelling skills with natural familiarity and fluency is by learning how to write well in English. In today’s world, good writing skills are an absolute necessity, in school, in the workplace and in performing simple, day to day tasks.
One good exercise for students is letter writing. Students can write letters to their friends and family in their home countries, detailing their experiences interacting with their new surroundings and comparing them to those back home. Another good writing exercise is to keep a personal diary.
By practicing writing skills on a regular basis, supplemented by an interactive editing process, students can become capable communicators, while mastering the technical aspects of the language at the same time.
Jan 9th , 2011
After teaching English grammar for a while, you come to the realization (along with your students) that English is a strange, hybrid language!
Some languages are phonetic – spelling and pronunciation are fairly obvious and consistent, following logical patterns and rules. English is not one of them.
The English language has so many influences from so many foreign languages that at times it can be very difficult to figure out how to correctly spell and pronounce some words. For example, why do the words “should” and “wood” rhyme? Why don’t “weight” and “height” rhyme? There are many such examples.
In addition, the English noun often has been imported from other languages. Examples include accoutrement, zeitgeist, chutzpah, coup d’état, détente, and the list goes on. These words cause many problems for students of English, and even native speakers sometimes spell and pronounce them incorrectly.
These nouns, along with irregular verbs and grammar exceptions, make English a challenging language to master. However, once a student acknowledges and accepts the eccentricities of the English language, they often realize the wisdom of memorizing the rules, and then remembering to tackle the myriad exceptions as they encounter them. This approach can make language learning much less daunting.
Another difficult point for students in an English school to master is idioms. The reason that many students find idioms too difficult to learn and master is because, most of the time, there is no logical way to explain their origins (for example, “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “she blew her top”). Instead, students must rely on memory and practice to learn them.
There are so many idioms in English that they can be confusing for the average learner, especially as teachers sometimes tend to overemphasize them in their lesson plans. However, if idioms are taught intermittently, as they arise in written or spoken material (such as newspaper articles, reading passages or TV news items), then students will be much more likely to remember them – especially if they are instructed to practice them in their writing and speaking.
Using this more haphazard method, students will generally retain idioms better, and the odds that they will recall them the next time they hear them somewhere are higher. Generally, this is more or less adequate for students of English, as they need to recognize and know how to interpret idioms that they hear in conversation, but do not necessarily need to be able to use them when speaking themselves.
Oct 17th , 2010
Did you know that about 15% of the population suffers from dyslexia? Do you know what percentage of US entrepreneurs have dyslexia? 35%! The simple tasks we all learn at an early age of reading and writing do not come naturally to people with dyslexia. They end up trying to do things differently and find creative solutions to problems. These are some of the well known innovators and business leaders who have dyslexia:
• Sir Richard Branson
• Ted Turner
• Walt Disney
• Erin Brockovich
• Albert Einstein
• Thomas Edison
• Tommy Hilfiger
• Winston Churchill
• Henry Ford
• Agatha Christie
During the month of October there are conferences all around the US promoting, awareness, research, and early identification of dyslexia. Ginger Software will be participating in the following conferences and would love to meet with you there:
October 14-15, 2010, Drury Lane Conference Center, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
October 22, 2010, Hilton’s Somerset Double Tree Hotel, Somerset, NJ
October 27-30, 2010, The Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, AZ
October 30, 2010, Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center, Framingham, MA
If you would like to join the Ginger Software team and help us raise money to support IDA’s important work, helping people with dyslexia all over the world please go to: http://www.firstgiving.com/gingersoftware
See you in October,
VP US Operations, Ginger Software Inc
Sep 12th , 2010
Ginger Software has partnered with the International Dyslexia Association, IDA. IDA will be holding their annual conference in Phoenix Arizona this October. Everyone registering to the conference can receive a FREE copy of Ginger Software. To find out more information about the conference please visit: http://www.interdys.org/AnnualConference.htm
Ginger’s revolutionary technology was developed specifically to correct the kinds of spelling mistakes commonly made by people with dyslexia. Other spell checkers are unable to correct the creative spelling errors that people with dyslexia make. Ginger provides a life changing experience to people with dyslexia, enabling them, for the first time to work efficiently and independently.
The IDA conference has been a great event for us to meet face to face with the people that we have impacted their life. Experiencing people’s reactions to our software has been a most gratifying feeling. I have watched people’s mouths drop as they are amazed by Ginger’s capabilities. I have been hugged numerous times by excited people. Sharing this excitement with our customers has made all the hard work worthwhile.
This year we decided to partner with IDA and provide each person attending the conference in Phoenix a free one year subscription to Ginger. The IDA has provided a valuable resource to people with dyslexia as well as to research in the field and we are proud to be taking part in promoting this cause.
Ginger Software will also be sponsoring the 2nd Annual Dyslexia Dash. We would like to invite you to join us all, walk, jog, or run through beautiful downtown Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, October 30, 2010 @ 7:00 a.m. To learn some more about the Dash: http://www.firstgiving.com/dyslexiadash
To join the Ginger Software team and help us raise money to support IDA’s important work, helping people with dyslexia all over the world please go to: http://www.firstgiving.com/gingersoftware
To read some more about how Ginger Software helps people with dyslexia click here.
I look forward to meeting you face to face at the conference. I hope that many of you will join the Ginger Software Dash team as we walk/run and jog the 5K and help IDA raise much needed funds to support their work and the lives of people with dyslexia.
See you in October,
VP US Operations, Ginger Software Inc.
Jun 24th , 2010
Believe it or not, one of the most common questions I am asked is in regards to Ginger’s Text To Speech feature. For those that are new to interacting with individuals who have learning difficulties, they are often not aware how beneficial Text To Speech can be for this group. To clarify, Text To Speech, often written as TTS, is a technology that converts written words into speech. Using computer speakers, TTS allows the writer to hear the text they have written. At times, there is debate as to which Text To Speech technology is the best. Ginger Software’s TTS is powered by Acapela – the leading Text To Speech provider in our opinion, which is also favored by the LD community.
On the surface, some may think that Text To Speech only provides the ability to hear the text that is written. While that is one benefit, there are actually many more benefits which stem from TTS. Using Ginger Software, a student who may have dyslexia is able to write a sentence and then listen to their writing. This enables them to decide if what they have composed is correct. If they are not sure, they are able to choose a word from the list of alternative choices (shown below), which are also supported by TTS, to swap into their sentence. The user can now listen to the same sentence with the alternative word used to really decide which word would be the best fit for their sentence.
Not only does Ginger’s Text To Speech offer the ability to enhance sentence correction, but for writers who struggle with pronunciation, they are also able to hear proper word pronunciation. This is very helpful for building better speech and literacy skills. While using Ginger’s TTS, users will watch as each word being read is highlighted, enabling the user to visually identify and match sounds to words. Through auditory repetition users with LD are able to hear the each word they struggle with, in the end improving their speech.
Ginger provides its users with the ability to hear the initial sentence they have written- which will be read phonetically, as well as the sentence with all of the suggested corrections. This enables users to really identify the errors they have made and improve their writing. A Ginger user needs to simply click on the corresponding speaker icon shown below to hear either their initial sentence or the corrected sentence.
Additionally, Ginger provides a number of Text To Speech options. Users are able to increase or decrease the reading speed allowing them to find a comfortable pace to work with. Finally, Ginger also offers a variety of voice options such as male and female, adult and child, and US or UK accent providing users with the customized experience necessary in these modern times.
To learn more about Ginger’s TTS capabilities visit our Text To Speech Page.
Jun 17th , 2010
Brian S. Friedlander, PhD
To say the least, these have been challenging times for schools. Schools across the United States are feeling the impact of the recession and the tough economic climate. This has had a significant impact on budgets; schools are in a position where, unfortunately, they have had to cut teachers and services to students in their school districts. It would seem that just as we are about to round the corner and are making strides in improving the achievement of students in our schools, the rug has been pulled from under us. Schools will have to do more with less. Many institutions who find themselves in this position have been looking for grants and foundation money to help support their programs and provide quality education services to their students.
During this past year, I have been able to provide assistive technology consulting services to many schools under President Obama’s, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. One of the priorities under this Act was the purchase of assistive technology and professional development to insure the equipment was being used properly. Many schools that I have worked with have budgeted for the purchase of assistive technology software and services which truly support students in the classroom. While many schools have already planned how they will be spending their grant money, there is still one more year under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for schools to invest in assistive technology and professional services. Now is a great time to sit down with your stakeholders and look to see how you can support students in the mainstream with assistive technology. Using programs like Ginger can help support students in the mainstream and assist them in their written language skills. Teachers who are using Ginger in the classroom could use the Frequent Error Reports to easily track students’ progress and the errors they make. Having a snapshot of each student’s errors is a great way to chart their progress and provide them with the personalized instruction that they need. The reports also provide great visibility to the levels of writing of all the students in the school, providing principles and administrators with valuable statistics on the amounts of text written, the kinds of errors all students are making, and their progress. Administrators can identify effective instruction methods which may be adopted school wide. In order for schools to become more efficient, they will need to look to instructional and assistive technologies that can provide students with the support they need and educators with the data to support it.
As school budgets continue to shrink, it will become more important for schools to take advantage of grant and foundation money they can use to support their assistive technology programs. In recent months, many states have applied for the Phase 2 of Race to the Top Funds, which was designed to promote State Departments of Education to adopt new policies and practices for school wide reform. Phase 2 of Race to the Top Fund is a $3.4 billion dollar grant that will be awarded at the end of the summer. It is important for educators to be aware of these programs and start a dialogue as to how this money will be spent for new and innovative educational practices. Some schools will be using this money to purchase computers and software- a great way to support students in the mainstream. To keep abreast of grants and other funding resources you may visit: http://www.eschoolnews.com/funding/
May 12th , 2010
In December we announced how Ginger Software Now Can Provide You with Statistics & Reports in a dedicated blog post about this handy new feature. Now, we would like to give you a few pointers on how to utilize Ginger’s reports to your advantage!
To begin understanding the power of Ginger’s reports, one first must understand that Ginger allows you to sort a report by time frame. Meaning, as a parent or educator you are able to look at a child or group’s report for yesterday, last week, last month or the last three months. This is ideal for tracking a student or child’s progress who may be on a RTI (Response To Intervention) or an IEP (Individualized Education Program). Simply clicking the ‘Save’ button shown below enables Ginger users to export the report they are viewing into MS-Excel for future reference. Being able to track a student week by week allows you to witness improvement and progress in their writing over time.
Another very simple way to use Ginger’s Frequent Error Reports is to track the correct word column. Commonly, while working with an individual who has dyslexia, they often have a very expansive verbal vocabulary. Though, when you track their written vocabulary, they may play it safe and choose words that are easier to spell. Knowing that if they choose a simple word, they can get relatively close to the correct spelling and then Microsoft’s Spell Checker may pick up the error and correct it for them. By simply tracking the correct word column, you are able to tell if the user is beginning to use more complex vocabulary.
Due to the fact that Ginger corrects on sentence context, users are able to attempt larger, more complex words that they would have avoided while solely using Microsoft’s tools.
Another wonderful advantage to using Ginger’s Frequent Errors reports is to export and save each student’s weekly report in MS-Excel. Once in Excel, you are able to use any of the program’s features to learn more about each Ginger user’s writing. For instance, once in Excel you can simply sort the corrected word column and watch for commonalities. Recently, I had a conversation with one teacher who said that she would sort the correct word column and look for patterns. With one particular student using Ginger, she found that each time a word beginning with the ‘ph’ sound such as ‘physical’ or ‘physics’ was used, the child would spell it with an ‘F’. This is a great example of an error that a traditional correction tool will not pick up, but one that Ginger will find. After seeing this, the teacher knew that she needed to spend additional time on this particular word sound.
Finally, one last simple feature that can be used is Excel’s charting capabilities. Below, you see my personal chart for how many Grammar & Misused Word errors I have made versus Spelling Mistakes in a given week. This is ideal to visually represent to a child how many mistakes they are making and how they are improving week by week.
Apr 8th , 2010
In November the Ginger Team prepared for a whirlwind 6 month tour of the United States with a quick hop over to the UK to cover all of the exciting conferences we had booked ourselves for. Speaking for trade show employees’ at large, attending conferences as a company is an immense undertaking. There is definitely more planning and coordination required than it may appear to the casual onlooker. With that said, there’s certainly not a more rewarding experience that an employee can take part in.
Working in sales, you’ll often hear that interacting with customers can be quite the experience, admittedly, good and bad. Customers have the unique ability to make your heart race and put a smile on your face at the same time. Though, it’s through customer interaction that sales people grow, and most importantly products improve. Customer feedback is imperative to the growth of products, as well as for new developments. There is no better way to obtain this information than to go where the customers are.
Traveling to six large conferences has been a way to understand which customers are interested in specific Ginger features and what aspects of Ginger garner the most applause. This information is both very interesting and helps move the software forward in a way that will please the most customers and prospective customers. While traveling to the 2009 IDA conference, Ginger’s ability to decipher unusual spelling mistakes and correct multiple errors within a sentence was a major crowd pleaser, as most of the attendees worked with or were the parent of a child who has dyslexia or a similar learning disability.
While at the very large BETT show in London, Ginger Premium’s Text-To-Speech (TTS) ability was an absolute necessity for many of the English Language Learners attending the show, as it enabled users to hear the difference between their initial sentence which contained all of their errors and the corrected sentence. Ginger’s Text-To-Speech (TTS) feature is ideal for helping users learn pronunciation and key in deciding between the appropriate words when looking at Ginger’s alternative correction options. Ginger’s TTS was also highly coveted amongst the many low visions users who visited Ginger’s booth at the 2010 CSUN show.
I’d have to say when it comes to assistive technology, there are so many products on the market that it can be difficult to stand out from the pack. This becomes especially evident at large conferences. However, due to Ginger’s consistently accurate corrections of spelling errors and grammar mistakes that those with learning difficulties often make, we soon become the buzz of the crowd. Anyone specializing in teaching disabilities is happy to come and see a Ginger demonstration, and even happier when they learn about Ginger’s Frequent Error reports. These are reports that educators and AT Specialists can use to actually see which errors a student is making, and in turn, use them to guide their day to day instruction.
Over the past six months, the Ginger Team was able to demonstrate new features and improved corrections from show to show. While the conference schedule for Ginger Software slows down, with only one remaining trip to San Francisco for the PEN EdRev 2010 (Parents Education Network) show at AT&T Park on April 17th, 2010, the Ginger Team is already looking forward to another busy conference season in the fall.