Research - Technology to support writing

Prepared by: Sheri Lenzo, Teacher Leader for Assistive Technology, Oak Park District 97, US

B. Technology to Support Text Transcription

Two processes are involved in text production:


Text Generation


Text Transcription


The translation of ideas into language representation as sentences in memory (generate ideas in the form of sentences).


The translation of language representation into written words. Text transcription requires the writer to apply two concurrent skills: word production (handwriting, keyboarding) and spelling.



Although the planning and organizing activities of prewriting can assist the writer during drafting, it is still necessary for the writer to both create ideas in sentence form (generate text) and transcribe them onto paper in one combined cognitive activity. This has been described as a juggling act (Berninger, 1999) in which the writer must juggle:

(a) Planning what to say and how to say it
(b) Selecting words and sentence and discourse structures
(c) Producing text
(d) Monitoring what has been written with what is about to be written while revising

1. What to Do—Text Transcription

Handwriting and spelling skills exert limits on the writing ability of some students:


As students become overly involved in the difficulties of producing legible handwriting and properly spelled words, they eliminate other processes that generate the ideas, logical sequences, and details (Graham, 1990), qualities that are present in their dictated versions of stories and explanations (Graham & Harris, 2000).




  • Use word processors for writing to improve legibility, length, and reduce errors.
  • Provide writing and word processing instruction.
  • Instruction for spell checkers, text formatting and text manipulation (copy, paste…).
  • Provide teacher directed keyboard training to achieve functional levels of keyboarding speed and accuracy. Without basic skills, such as fluent keyboarding, students’ true writing skills will not be reflected in the work they produce using word processors.
  • Use text-to-speech output with students having persistent reading deficits.
  • Use word prediction to benefit students with poor spelling abilities, and those with physical disabilities.
  • Consider word prediction with text-to-speech output for students with persistent spelling difficulties.
  • Provide instruction in using word prediction.
  • Provide digital voice recording for students with severe spelling or keyboarding deficits who are not ready for the demands of Speech Recognition technology.
  • Provide speech recognition, voice recognition, or voice dictation technology to convert spoken language into typed text.
  • Consider for highly motivated students with severe spelling, or keyboarding deficits.
  • Provide systematic training, including use of dictation for writing.



Computer literacy skills, especially keyboarding, have a direct impact
on the potential of the word processor as a transcription tool for students
(Wolfe, Bolton, Feltovich, & Bangert, 1996; Wolfe, Bolton, Feltovich, & Niday, 1996).

In fact, there are indications that a lack of keyboarding instruction
has a negative impact on elementary-age students
(Langone, Levine, Clees, Malone, & Koorland, 1996; MacArthur, Graham, & Schwartz, 1993; MacArthur, Graham, Schwartz, & Schafer, 1995; Vacc, 1987).




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