WordQ Software Prompting

WordQ tightly integrates visual and auditory feedback such that a variety of prompts are presented to help the user make choices and to self-identify mistakes. It is based on the assumption that users with learning difficulties have oral skills that are generally better than reading skills. They can use their general language sense to monitor their writing, and catch errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation that might otherwise go unrecognized. 

Predicted words

The word list presents predicted word choices as a visual prompt of possible words that might be appropriate. To help the user to review these choices, the user can browse the list by simply pressing the down arrow (with a vertical list; the right arrow with a horizontal list). Each word is highlighted and spoken emphasizing the visual/auditory shape associated with a word. This is important when the user has difficulty reading a word based on its component letters. (A mouse may also be used to highlight and speak a word.) 

The prediction word list itself includes additional prompts that should be taught. When the word list goes blank while the user is typing, it is a prompt that the user is making a typing mistake because no correctly spelled word matches that sequence of letters. Alternatively, the user may be typing a novel word. If the word list starts showing words that the user does not understand, it is a prompt that they are drawing upon words that are beyond their vocabulary (if that prediction option is active) and they may have made a spelling mistake. In that case they should back up and try some other letters.  

Typing echo

The next level of prompts involves echo feedback of typed letters, words, and sentences. Any combination of these may be activated:

  • Letter echo helps the user self-detect whether the letter just typed is the one that they had intended. When not paying attention to the screen, the user can quickly hear an error in typing.
     
  • Word echo helps the user self-detect two things. If a predicted word is selected, word echo helps the user self-detect whether it was the intended selection or not. If the user types out a word without using a predicted word, word echo helps the user self-detect whether it was spelled correctly—it won’t sound right if misspelled. If vowels are left out, the word will be spoken out letter-by-letter. This supplements visual cues presented by some word processors that underline spelling errors.
     
  • Sentence echo helps the user hear the word flow and self-identify whether word order is correct, whether words are missing, and whether appropriate punctuation is present. Also, if they never hear a sentence echoed, that is a cue in itself that they have neglected sentence punctuation.
Reading text

The final level of prompting is reading the text at a sentence level. This level is fully available in Microsoft Word, WordPad, Notepad, and Outlook. A Read mode activated by pressing the WordQ Read button or its corresponding hotkey (default = F11) will highlight the sentence where the cursor is located emphasizing that this is the sentence being reviewed. The user can quickly move to other sentences with the up and down arrow keys.

The user then begins reading the sentence by pressing the spacebar. The sentence is then spoken with each word highlighted word-by-word again emphasizing the visual/auditory shape of each word. All of this is done directly in the word processor application. At the end of the sentence, the sentence is highlighted again so that the user does not lose their place. The user can repeat reading the sentence. At any time while reading, the user can pause with the spacebar. The user can also manually step through the sentence word-by-word by using the right and left arrow keys to help locate an error. To exit the read mode, the user presses the Read button again, presses Esc or clicks anywhere with the mouse.

Another reviewing option is to highlight the text (e.g., several sentences or just a few words) first and then press the Read button. In this case, the highlighted selection is read with word-by-word highlighting and the Read mode is automatically exited when the selection is read. When other applications are used (e.g., WordPerfect, Internet Explorer, Inspiration), word-by-word highlighting is not available and the user must manually highlight the text. If word-by-word highlighting is desired in these situations, the user can easily copy and paste the text into Notepad or WordPad for reading.

 


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