Oct 26th , 2009
Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D
When I first came across Ginger sometime last spring, I was struck by quality of the spell checking and the innovation that I saw. While I was excited to learn about this new innovative assistive technology, it wasn’t until I actually used it with students diagnosed with dyslexia that I saw how valuable it was to them. Students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia typically present with a learning disorder that impacts in the areas of reading and well as in written language. While dyslexia impacts in a student’s ability to read, more often than not, it also impacts more in their ability to write. Typically students with dyslexia will have trouble organizing their ideas, spelling words correctly, and constructing clearly organized paragraphs. This is where Ginger can assist. Unlike other spell checking applications, Ginger is unique and uses algorithms and a database to seek out the context of how the word is being used. With these methodologies, Ginger is able with a very high degree of probability to correctly suggest the word that was intended by the writer. If you have worked with students with writing disabilities, you know just how challenging it is for them to get their ideas down on paper due to their spelling difficulties. In many cases, students with writing disabilities will choose to use smaller words that they know they can spell, then take the risk of spelling a word they want to use but just can’t figure out how to spell it. Even when these students use a standard spell checker, more often than not the word they want is not suggested because they are so far afield. Students with dyslexia typically spell very phonetically or will tend to drop out letters that they just don’t hear in the word. This is where Ginger comes in. Ginger allows the student the ability to get their ideas down without slowing them down and forcing them to check their spelling. The idea of fluency is important when writing and for all of us who do writing you know that the most important part of the process is getting your ideas down first before you edit. Using other writing assistive technologies has a tendency to break that flow, and force the student to focus at the word level, instead of allowing the student to get their ideas down.
Ginger allows students the freedom to know that they can get their ideas down first and when they are finished they can invoke Ginger to check their work. This really frees up the students to use words that they might not even want to attempt to try, because they know that Ginger is in the background ready to assist them when needed. Ginger has the uncanny ability to look at not only the misspelling but to look at the word in context to help make the appropriate suggestion. The ability to process the student’s written work after they are done writing one sentence at time really helps the student to focus on their intent and to see if their ideas flow. If needed, students can use Ginger’s text to speech (TTS) supports that comes with a Premium Membership to listen to the computer read their work and the suggested words. All in all, Ginger provides a level of support that will give students the confidence to get their ideas out with the words that they want to use. If you are working with students with dyslexia and spelling disorders, I urge you to take a test run of Ginger and download the 14 day trial and see what happens. While Ginger works great for student with dyslexia you should also consider it for students who are just starting to write and for English Language Learners whose native language is not English. Like myself, you will be amazed just how good this software is in providing students with the spelling supports they need. In recognition of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, Ginger Software is offering a 20 percent discount to home users until the end of November. You can go to the Ginger Software Store by clicking here
In my next post, I will take a look at the text to speech capabilities (TTS) in Ginger Premium to support students who may have difficulty reading the suggested corrections.