Write Right - The Schoolzone Assesment
Breme Write Right is a word processor/spellchecker specifically
designed for people with dyslexia or with general poor spelling.
The key to this product is the way that the built-in spellchecker
operates. Words are checked against the database in a phonetic
way. Thus typing “dubl” into Write Right brings up a list of
possible words, which has “double” on it. To further aid weak
spellers some of the listed words will have illustrations to
help with identification of the correct word. Users can also
listen to the words on the list which is an obvious boon to
dyslexics. Additionally the program automatically detects similar
sounding words like 'their' and 'there' as they are typed and
immediately brings up a window illustrating alternative spellings
The program can be tweaked to suit individual users. There are
options to set the level of help provided, choose a voice to
read text back and set up the retype function. This function
means the user must retype the corrected word using the supplied
correct spelling. This may be useful for poor spellers as it
will reinforce the spelling rules, but most dyslexics, who find
copying laborious and error prone, will turn this feature off.
Users have a further option in that the colour of the background
and the text can both be altered. Many dyslexics find certain
colour combinations easier to work with and this caters for
The interface is simplified with fewer icons to search through
on the tool bar. The “hints” that appear when the mouse hovers
over an icon are also useful, with messages such as “align right”
being replaced with the more straightforward “Makes the typing
line up to the right”.
This program is extremely good value and many parents might
wish to purchase a copy for home use. A free 30 day trial is
available from the website www.bremesoftware.com
18 May 2005
Number of years teaching experience
Experienced in office packages, SEN software and general
maintainance programmes. I have installed software and
hardware onto stand alone machines. I was involved in
the Scottish Executive/
University of Edinburgh pilot for voice activated software.
This product was installed onto the school network and accessed in
the Support for Learners base. A variety of pupils from 12 - 16 used
Write Right to complete homework tasks and classwork. In addition
the software was used in a home environment with a mature student.
All users were diagnosed with varying degrees of dyslexia and had
all had at least basic computing skills. Write Right was used to produce
homework essays and class work, and also for creative writing. Users
spend varying periods of time on the program, ranging from 1 to 4
hours per week.
Labour saving aspects
The limited range of functions mean that Write Right is quicker to
master than normal word processing packages such as Microsoft Word.
Using the program to write reports or similar will be less time consuming
than constantly redrafting hand written reports, with the consequent
laborious process of spell checking via a dictionary.
There are no specific learning outcomes associated with this product.
However it would be hoped that pupils improved their spelling skills,
improved their word processing rates and skills, and bolstered their
self-esteem. In addition pupils who adapt well to the program should
become more independent in their working.
All users were positive about Write Right, though the students who
felt most positive were high achieving dyslexics who found the removal
of the barrier to communication most useful. The longer they used
the program the more positive they became, suggesting that reluctant
users should be persuaded to persevere.
Students who felt less positively about the program were those
who had other learning difficulties which weren't addressed by Write
The whole rationale behind Write Right is to help dyslexics with
the problems of spelling. The program allows users to select type
and background colours to suit their specific requirements, and
save these specifications for future use. There are a number of
options to help reinforce spelling - users can elect to have to
type the correct spelling of a word before it will be entered. This
is possibly more suitable for common words than for words encountered
on an occasional basis, but it is a useful option to have. To help
users choose the correct word, pausing the mouse over a word in
the spelling bank will cause it to be read out, with a (limited)
choice of voice. In addition pictorial representations help pupils
to choose correctly. This is particularly helpful when words sound
the same but have different spellings (e.g. bear and bare).
Assessment and pupil tracking opportunities
The program can be set to save each error together with its chosen
correction to a text (*.txt) file. The file will bear the same name
as the piece in question and is saved to the same folder. This makes
it possible to quantify improvement in performance, to allow pupils
to monitor progress and to enable staff to work on recurring errors.
Design and navigation
Initially the layout may seem
confusing, as it differs from the traditional MS Word appearance
most users understand. To help users the icons have explanatory
labels which appear and are read aloud when the mouse is paused
over them. These are useful as they are written in a straightforward
style - "Make the typing line up to the right" instead of "Align
right" and "Load a picture" rather than "Insert picture". An auto
save feature exists and files can be transferred that were originally
written in MS Word. All the controls are accessed directly from
the icons - there are no pop up menus with lots of further options.
This makes the program easy to use, but this ease of use is traded
off against the level of functionality. As a result Write Right
is not suitable as a general word processor, but should be regarded
specifically as a product designed for people who need comprehensive
help with spelling problems.
Staff should set aside an hour or so to become familiar with
the program, especially the help menus and settings. This is simply
to be in a position to help new users get started with Write Right.
Other than this initial user training there is no need for teacher
intervention, and pupils should quickly become proficient.
Headphones should be made available on any PC which has Write Right
installed - users will hear the words more clearly, and won't feel
they are the centre of attention.
of work supported
Write Right is designed to
help pupils across the curriculum, and consequently doesn't fit
in to specific schemes of words. Where necessary words particular
to a subject or topic can be added to the dictionary, although the
initial dictionary is already comprehensive and sophisticated.
The program is designed to help pupils with literacy difficulties.
Navigation is simple and audio instructions and illustrations also
assist users. The colour of the background and the text can be altered
to the user's specifications. The spell checker works phonetically,
maximising the success rate in locating the correct word. The option
to have users retype the word correctly is also an aid to improved
literacy. If users cannot locate the correct word it will remain
highlighted, allowing a teacher or parent to review it later and
correct. In addition the speed of the program’s spell checking function
can be altered to suit slow typists, and prevent suggestions appearing
before a word has been completed.
The installation package is
straightforward and self-explanatory. Once installed the CD is not
required for operation.
When starting, the program suggests a switch to a higher resolution
than set on the school network, but it works quite happily if this
is not chosen.
The home use version had to be reinstalled after a month as a Run-time
error 35600 prevented it opening. This is more likely to be a fault
with the PC than the program. Once reinstalled it has operated trouble
The CD-ROM comes with printed installation instructions and a
brief overview of the program. In addition there is a help file
on the disk, which can be loaded with the program on to your hard
drive or kept on the CD to save space. The help file is accessed
by clicking the Microsoft styled Help icon on the tool bar. This
brings up five options. As an aid to poor spellers the icon changes
over each option (help, about, quick tips, preview help and registration
help) to guide users to the correct choice. The Help section is
all on one page so users can scroll up/down to find articles. A
hyper linked picture of the program in operation lets users click
on the section they need help with. As an additional aid the relevant
text is read out when selected. Although a little awkward at first
this soon becomes intuitive, and its benefits for dyslexics are
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