Empowering individuals with Dyslexia

Writing can be challenging for children with Dyslexia, but giving them the proper support makes a difference. Sure, some struggle will always be involved - that's part of the process for all writers. But by identifying and removing each child’s obstacles, we boost their chances of becoming strong, confident writers.

Word prediction tools can be a game-changer for anyone with spelling challenges, especially for students with Dyslexia. Just as we wouldn't expect a person to run a marathon without proper training and equipment, we can't expect kids to become strong writers without the proper support. Read&Write with Co:Writer Prediction is like the requisite running shoes, hydration, and encouragement that empower an athlete to go the distance. The same principle applies to writing. Whether it's trouble with fine motor skills, using content-specific words, or spelling and grammar, suitable accommodations provide the scaffolding kids with language-based learning disabilities need to thrive as writers.

What’s new: The Co:Writer Prediction feature in Read&Write offers a range of features designed to unstick ideas and facilitate writing flow. Its grammar- and vocabulary-smart word prediction, translation support, and speech recognition make it a powerful tool. 

Why it matters: Co:Writer Prediction's strength lies in its ability to cater to individual needs, making each user's experience unique. This personalization ensures accurate word predictions when typing, contributing to a smoother writing process. Read&Write’s prediction allows adjustments for speed, volume, accent, the amount of words read aloud, and font selection. All of these enable users to tailor the experience to their preferences and needs. This level of personalization sets Co:Writer prediction apart, making it a tool that genuinely understands the needs of Dyslexic individuals, which allows them to excel in their written expression.

The big picture: Any student who has ever struggled with spelling will tell you how misspelled words impacts their confidence and writing abilities. Having tools that reduce the cognitive load during the transcription process can help students focus on the message of their writing rather than being held back by worries about finding the right words and spelling those words accurately. 

Setting up for success: As kids learn what works for them, they can set their preferences in a settings menu to guide how Co:Writer prediction works within the Read&Write literacy toolbar. 

  • Basic customization exists so users can select font, text size, colors, and spacing that works for them.
  • The words in a prediction list can be customized from three to ten words, so the number of suggestions isn’t too meager or plentiful for a writer.
  • Flexible spelling picks up phonetic spelling errors while one types.
  • Predict from page scans the page one is working on to include relevant words in the prediction list. 
  • The prediction box's location can follow the cursor or be dragged to any location on the screen. 
  • Prediction words can be read aloud on hover to see and hear the words in the prediction list.

The details: Co:Writer Prediction in Read&Write can empower students with Dyslexia in multiple ways. First, it provides word suggestions in a prediction box that can be read aloud when one hovers over them. Users can insert one of the word choices by clicking on it or by typing the number beside the word in their prediction list. Relatedly, contextually relevant words and phrases can be inserted in fewer keystrokes. Also, a topic feature can be activated to offer words related to a particular subject in the prediction list. There are millions of available topics in the topics tab, which makes it nearly certain one will quickly find what they’re looking for. For extra support, users can use Read&Writer’s built-in dictionary, picture dictionary, and/or built-in translator. This feature lets a student hover over a word to see a definition, picture, or translation. (The translator feature can translate into over 90 different languages!) To further personalize the experience, a variety of voices and reading speeds can be selected to have one’s writing read back to them. 

There are additional tools on the literacy toolbar to help users. Talk & Type is a speech-to-text feature that allows users to dictate their thoughts into a document. Even students with emerging voice typing skills will find their process will speed up since their accuracy will increase. Check It is a super-charged tool that checks a document for spelling, grammar, and easily confused words in one’s writing. There’s always an option to add words to one’s personal Read&Write dictionary so correct words aren’t flagged as errors in the future. Both of these features make writing tasks more manageable and efficient.

Here’s a secret: While some people might consider the highlighter tools on the literacy toolbar for reading or productivity purposes only, writers can create vocabulary lists to help their readers interact more easily with their writing. These vocabulary lists can help a writer’s audience by providing them with not only a definition, but an image that can further illustrate a concept.

As the parent of a Dyslexic child: I’ve witnessed my daughter’s increased writing success and growth using the original Co:Writer Universal tool. Co:Writer’s predictive capabilities, real-time spell checking, and read-back options – which my daughter set to word-by-word and full-sentence read alouds –  fostered independence she never encountered with other word processing program’s built-in accessibility features. With Co:Writer's support, she could elevate her skills and succeed as a written communicator during the drafting, revision, and editing stages of the writing process.

As an educator: Appropriate accommodations are crucial for all students, not just those with special rights afforded by an IEP or 504 Plan. Read&Write can help students with language-based learning disabilities, limited English vocabulary, working memory issues, fine motor difficulties, and physical disabilities. Plus, Co:Writer Prediction’s integration with various platforms – Word Online, Google Docs, Google Slides, and learning management systems – makes it possible to provide accessible writing spaces wherever students work. The key is meeting each child where they are and equipping them with the tools to overcome their unique challenges.

The bottom line: Writing will never be effortless. But by removing unnecessary barriers, we help kids with language-based learning disabilities channel their energy into productive struggle - the kind that leads to genuine growth and success as writers. With the right accommodations in place, the writing journey becomes much smoother, allowing students to become more competent, brave, and confident writers.

Stacey Shubitz is the Chief of Operations and Lead Writer at Two Writing Teachers, a site dedicated to teaching writing, and the co-host of the Two Writing Teachers Podcast. She is a certified literacy specialist and a former classroom teacher who taught fifth grade at P.S. 171 in East Harlem, NY and fourth grade at The Learning Community in Central Falls, RI.  In 2009, Stacey turned her passion for supporting teachers with balanced literacy instruction into a career as a literacy consultant based in Pennsylvania.

Stacey is the author of Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016), as well as the co-author of Jump Into Writing: A Workshop Approach (Zaner-Bloser, 2021),Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging Today’s Students with a Model that Works (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and the co-author of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice (Stenhouse Publishers, 2010). Currently, she is writing a practical guide offering firsthand insights and expertise for parents and caregivers navigating the complexities of special education in grades K-6. From understanding legal frameworks to fostering self-advocacy skills, the book provides essential tools and real-life examples to advocate for children with higher support needs confidently.

Stacey has a M.A. in Literacy Education from Teachers College at Columbia University and a M.S.Ed. in Childhood Education from Hunter College of the City of New York. A Kappa Delta Pi Teacher of Honor, Stacey presents at local, state, and national conferences and has published articles for various publications.

Online Connections:

●     Blog: http://twowritingteachers.org

●     Podcast: Two Writing Teachers Podcast

●     Website: Shubitz Literacy LLC