Using computers as a tool in the remediation of developmental dyslexia
This study investigates the potential of computer technology in assisting dyslexics to overcome their problems with written language. Spelling inaccuracy is a persistent problem for dyslexics and is particularly embarrassing for older students. In a study of the effectiveness of computer spell checkers, the spelling accuracy of nineteen 11 to 13 year old dyslexics was compared using three different spelling aids - a computer spell checker, an electronic hand held spell checker and a dictionary. Results from the dyslexic students were further compared with those obtained with a group of students with moderate learning difficulties (MLD). The spelling of both the dyslexics and the MLD group was found to be considerably more accurate when a computer spell checker was employed. Performance on the electronic hand held machine was also better than when a dictionary was used. For the dyslexic group, but not for the MLD students, performance on all three items of equipment was found to be a function of spelling age. A second investigation examined the effectiveness of utilising the editing facilities of a word processor in the teaching of punctuation skills to 17 dyslexics (mean C.A. = 11.8 yrs) and 14 MLD controls (mean CA. = 11.8 yrs). The results indicated the computer mediated teaching to be very effective for both subjects and controls. A third strand of the study examined the benefits resulting from provision of individual laptop computers to 10 secondary aged dyslexic students. After using the equipment for a year, teachers identified improvements in spelling and in the clarity and presentation of written work. Students said they were less anxious about their spelling problems and gained more enjoyment from written tasks. Parents reported a general increase in confidence among their sons and daughters. Older students were found to use their machines more extensively than their younger counterparts and a four year follow up of 3 students confrmed an increased use of the laptops as students progressed up the school.