AT and Learning Disabilities

Word Prediction

Word prediction programs work with word processors. They predict the word a person wants to enter into the computer. The person types the first letter of a word, and the program offers a list of words beginning with that letter. If the right word appears on the list, it can be chosen and automatically inserted into the sentence. If the right word doesn’t appear, the student continues to type the next letter until it does appear. After the user chooses a word, the computer predicts the next word in the sentence. Again, it offers a list of possible words, even before the first letter is typed. Predictions are based upon the sentence content and spelling, as well as the number of times a word is used. Word prediction may be helpful to students who have trouble with spelling, grammar, or using a keyboard (by reducing the number of keystrokes needed). These programs may also help people who struggle to come up with the exact word they want to use in a sentence.

For spelling, word prediction programs can be liberating or limiting. For students who can write the first several letters of a word with relative accuracy, they are very helpful in predicting longer, more complicated words. If the word prediction program doesn’t recognize phonetic similarities, it might be frustrating for a student who lacks strong sound-symbol skills. If a student doesn’t like having his or her flow of writing interrupted, word prediction might not work very well. If a student has trouble with word recognition, word prediction should be used with synthesized speech. Some reading and writing software programs include a word prediction feature.


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