How Computers Change the Writing Process for People with Learning Disabilities

A successful adult with a learning disability (dyslexia) can be one who can use computers to organize and express his ideas. People with learning disabilities like dyslexia don't do enough writing to learn from their own experience with writing.

Computers make it easier to get ideas recorded outside of the head. Computers make it easier to edit, change, and work with ideas. Computers make it easier to publish or share ideas.

Keyboarding, even hunting and pecking, eliminates the hand-encoding process that many dyslexics find so hard. Being able to make perfectly formed letters by hitting a key is a lot easier than struggling to write by hand.

Touch typing, when mastered, can be a great help for many people with learning disabilities.

They may not know much about spelling rules and or anything about the rules of grammar but they do know a lot about spelling patterns from looking at words, and sentence patterns from looking at sentences.

Once the writing is in the computer it is being held or "remembered" electronically (instead of in ink on paper) so change is possible. Just being able to change things without a rewrite frees them from worry about making mistakes.

Basic text editing with any computer/word processor allows:

Deleting letters, words, phrases
Inserting letters, words, phrases
Moving letters, words, phrases
Copying letters, words, phrases

These basic electronic capabilities are enough to make computers the greatest tools ever for people with writing problems because they allow for easy change. Again, no more pressure to get it right or have it complete.

Thus, they change the process of working with ideas and allowed to concentrate on the quality of the expression of their ideas instead of the limitations of the tools they have to express them.

All of these effects together; change in the input process, change in the editing process, and change in the output process make writing much more accessible to students and adults with learning disabilities.

Computers are not only for the delivery of content, drill and practice, or final editing and printing of writing but also to be able to explore the ideas in a way that allows them to know that their ideas were worth exploring, and being able to share them in a way so that others might think so too.