Monthly Archives: October 2009

Oct 26th 2009

Using Ginger with Students with Dyslexia

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.

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Oct 21st 2009

Welcome to Ginger Software’s Blog

Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D

It is really exciting to be able to blog for Ginger Software as they launch their latest product Ginger, a new and innovative spelling correction tool. I was honored when Ginger Software asked me to join their Scientific Advisory Board to provide them with my perspective in the field of assistive technology. For the past twenty five years I have been involved in the field of special education as a school psychologist and now as a full-time professor of education at the College of St. Elizabeth where I head up the Graduate Programs in Special Education and teach graduate courses in assistive technology. The longer I am in the field the more excited I have become with the potential that assistive technology can hold for students with learning disabilities. In my way of looking at it- assistive technology can help level the playing field for students with disabilities and provide them with various levels of supports to give them access to the core curriculum. More importantly, assistive technology can provide the student with the self-confidence knowing that they can do school tasks like everyone else. Assistive technology can provide the student with the sense of  an ” I can do” attitude which is essential in helping with students maintain their self-esteem and confidence. I am always so disheartened when I work with students for the first time who have struggled their entire academic career with reading and writing and have never been introduced to any assistive technology. To me, it is unacceptable that more educators are not made aware of the value of assistive technology and the role it can play in the student’s education. In part, it is this reason that I spend all of my time teaching my graduate students whom are all teachers about the value and the role of assistive technology in a student’s education.

In this blog I hope to explore with you various assistive technologies that can help a wide variety of learners reach their full potential. There have been a number of new developments in the field not only in software but hardware that makes assistive technology more accessible and more economical. Of course we will spend some time taking a look at Ginger Software which has broken new ground with their recent release of their product in helping dyslexic students in the area of writing. So I hope that you come back often and read the posts and become part of this exciting community of educators that are looking for new techniques and strategies to work with students with disabilities. Before I sign off on this post- please feel free to join me and my colleague Joan Green, MA, CCC for a free Webinar in which we talk about various writing supports that were featured in our most recent eBook, Technology Supports for Writing. In this webinar you will have the opportunity to see how assistive technology can help students in the writing process. Of course you will get to see first hand how Ginger Software is leading the way with their innovative software application to help support those students with grammar and spelling issues. So Click Here, Reserve your Webinar seat now or go to
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/440908155

Learn about a new interactive guide to cutting-edge technology tools, strategies and resources to improve the writing process. This video ebook is now available at www.ittsguides.com

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