How Typing Levels the Academic Playing Field for Students with Disabilities
Growing up, James consistently struggled in school. Reading and writing were particularly challenging and even with extra tutoring, he couldn’t keep up with his peers.
At age 9, James was diagnosed with dyslexia, a disorder that makes it difficult for him to decipher and produce written language.
While his diagnosis helped him get extra support and accommodations in class, he still struggled with writing, especially in cursive.
His teachers had trouble reading his written work due to his poor handwriting and often marked him down for it.
Unfortunately, James’ story is not uncommon for students with dyslexia.
One in five students in the United States has a language-based learning disability. While dyslexia is the most common, there are many others that can also make writing difficult.
For these students, writing legibly can present an additional barrier that prevents them from being successful in school. In an environment where grades are heavily based on written work, students can grow up thinking they’re dumb when that is by no means the case.
How Typing Boosts Confidence in Dyslexic Students
It’s no surprise that typing is a much more relevant means of communication today than cursive is.
Across the country states are taking note, adding keyboarding to their curricula.
Not only will this switch better prepare all students for the technology-based world beyond the classroom, but this move will also be especially beneficial for students like James. Students who suffer from learning disabilities that make writing a laborious and almost impossible task.
On the keyboard, dyslexic students no longer need to struggle with handwriting and instead can focus on the quality of their thoughts.
Studies show that when dyslexic students type as opposed to write by hand, they use a broader vocabulary, write with improved clarity, and are able to better express complex ideas.
Teachers have reported that when dyslexic students shift to doing more of their writing on the computer, their overall enthusiasm for school and confidence in their abilities soars.
All of that from learning to type!
It is important, though, that all students learn to type correctly. Dyslexic students and others benefit from learning to type discrete keys with proper form (as they do in Typing.com) instead of jumping straight to typing out their own thoughts.
Computer Use for Students with Disabilities
Apart from typing programs, there are a wealth of online resources that teachers can use to support students with learning disabilities.
Helping students learn to touch type is a great place to start and letting these students do as much of their written work as possible on a computer can facilitate them demonstrating mastery on new skills and content.
If reading is a struggle consider using a text to speech application so that students can listen to text while they read.
For students whose learning disabilities make spelling and grammar a challenge, there are also programs with predictive texting and grammar checking that students can use.
Always talk to a special education coordinator or case manager at your school if you aren’t sure about appropriate accommodations on the computer.
Computers may not solve all of your teaching challenges, but they can definitely help with a lot of them.
What resources or tips do you have for facilitating computer use for students with disabilities? Share your ideas in the comments below!