Global AutoCorrect 2
From LexAble(R) – Assistive Software Development
Spelling errors, mistyped text and typos drive most people a little crazy. Many users spend time, being a few minutes or for some students, numerous tedious hours, in correcting and editing their essays, projects, assignments and other writing tasks.
In the classroom, in the workplace and at home, productivity is decreased and time is wasted. Instead of working smarter, people of all abilities are working harder – for no reason.
The normal practice is to type for a period of time, then retrospectively locate all those frustrating red underlines (in software such as MS Word) and correct them one by one, or alter the same mistake throughout the document. Perfectionists, or students with ASD and other conditions, correct every misspelt word as they type them. This is ineffective, disruptive to the writing process and ineffective use of time and energy. It taxes the brain and causes fatigue, ultimately creating more errors and mistakes!
The drafting process is daunting for many struggling students. In the late eighties, with the advent of text editors and later, word processing programs on mini and microcomputers, mistyped or misspelt words were identified by inbuilt (or external) spell checkers. For some people, this worked really well. Users with mild spelling difficulties or those who did not learn to touch type (one or two finger typists) used the hunt and peck method. The correction of a few mistyped words was not an issue. It liberated users from manual, mechanical and electric typewriters. For others, it was a nightmare. Why?
Students and adult users have difficulties due to not being able to:
- Use the rules of English (only a couple of thousand due to ‘irregularities’)
- Start the word with the right letter (e.g. xylophone, phonics, pneumatic )
- Identify the desired word correctly and confidently
- Identify and correctly choose a word, if it is provided in a list of similarly spelt words in a spell checker
- Use phonics skills
- Sound out the word
- ‘See the word’ in their head
- Use the correct usage (e.g. homophones – ‘see’, ‘sea’ ‘c’)
- Ascertain the word from the context of the surrounding text
Some educators encourage students to write the first draft in pen, biro and pencil. Then the children approach the computer or device (e.g. AlphaSmart, Neo and more recently tablets including iPads) and type the text. Some students struggle to generate ideas and formulate them. It ultimately annoys and frustrates them, as they have to complete the task, twice.
Disengaged students may opt out or act up. Others take a significant time to initiate and proceed as compared to their peers. Others take an inordinate amount of time yet others persevere, wanting to please the teacher, knowing that they’ll most likely fail, again.
Poor spelling is often consistent with students who have dyslexia and learning disabilities. This is exacerbated by difficulties with sentence construction, syntax, grammar and punctuation skills. Writing is problematic. Text creation becomes burdensome and builds anxiety and stress. Students want to skip class, stay home from school and avoid any note taking or writing tasks.
Homework becomes a huge issue, with families supporting their sons and daughters, taking hours to complete projects whilst other more capable students often complete them in class or quickly finish. They try; they try really hard, but with little or no reward forthcoming, only resulting in poor grades. Exams and tests are another concern and their intelligence, knowledge of subject matter, application and interest levels are not evidenced with a one-off test, on one day of the week, month or year.
Writing text then typing it, can culminate in double error creation as misspelt words that were written can be typed incorrectly as well being ‘copied’; from the original. Even if the written draft is corrected (that dreaded red biro) mistakes are likely. Additional errors (typos, mistyped letters, poor recognition of alphanumeric characters on the keyboard, reversals of letters etc) are also possible, and in many instances, predictable.
A Solution: Global AutoCorrect 2
This is a very different and exciting approach. It is proactive software that automatically corrects words as the user types them. It is also transparent to a large degree and can ‘learn’ over time.
This saves frustration and time in editing text after the errors have been made. Text is more accurately entered and so the drafting and writing process is seamless. The user can be assured that their typing is being monitored.
If a word is entered incorrectly, a red line will appear (e.g. in MS Word). To add it to the software inbuilt lexicon (or list of words), the user simply double clicks on the word, presses F2 key on the keyboard and selects the required word from a list.
Additional words can be added to the software. Lists of words that have been corrected are generated. These can be viewed, checked and printed. Data entry is logged by date. A count function provides analysis and rich, valuable information.
The list of words counted and/or automatically corrected can be edited, deleted or printed at any time.
The software can be temporarily switched off or put into ‘Count only’ mode. In this instance, it doesn’t correct words automatically but gathers data on the user’s performance. This is a wonderful feature with diagnostic capabilities that can be judiciously used to alert users, parents, educators and therapists to the quantity of errors made by a user in a given situation or task, or over a period of time (day, week etc.). Writing genres vary so that students may be able to cope with a descriptive piece of text but struggle with projects or assignments with technical terms, jargon or maths/science terms can build a lexicon that accommodates every writing task in any curriculum. These words, if used on a Notebook or Netbook, are available in all other programs as well, even on social networks.
Text size can be altered to be small or large when using the F2 function. Hot keys can be assigned (critical for vision impaired and users who are blind). The text and background colours can be modified in the Alert mode.
A printing reminder can be set after a designated number of days. The set of words can be printed with or without the incorrect spellings. Font selection will be necessary for some students (legibility and readability on paper) as well as coloured card or paper can be used to cater to users with Irlen/Mears Irlen Syndrome (or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome).
Global AutoCorrect can be set to launch at start-up. This makes sense as the software can monitor and work with all software programs, not just writing tools and productivity suites, from the get go. Once a word has been identified as a new word, proper noun, indigenous word, person’s name etc. it will be reflected across ALL keyboard entry – in any other program.
When users wish to add their own Auto Corrections, Global AutoCorrect 2 makes this process even easier with the inclusion of real human pronunciations for more than 68,000 words. The developers already had a dictionary, but they chose to add real voices because they discovered that hearing each word correctly pronounced by a real person makes the process of adding corrections faster and more accurate.
According to Neil Cottrell, the developer of the software, “One of the things that make Global AutoCorrect work so well for those long, difficult words is the "intelligent accurate autocorrection". It’s one of the keys to the software’s success in supporting dyslexic people. When a user makes a mistake, the software analyses the sound patterns in the word, to understand what he or she is trying to spell. Global AutoCorrect 2 compares the typed word’s ‘relative phonetic distance’ to all other words in the dictionary. All this happens in a fraction of a second as the user is typing. This means that even long, difficult words that can be spelt in so many different ways will be corrected.
A free 30 day trial is available from the LexAble website. I’d strongly encourage parents and educators to trial the software so as to gauge acceptance and test the veracity of the developer’s claims. Tutorials are built in to the software. The software is available for purchase online. A useful Help system is also available from within the software.
Younger students require spelling software and phonics programs. The need for intervention in schools is necessary, but for some students, this is ineffectual or does not assist them in any meaningful context.
Time and a commitment to assisting young children in acquiring skills and understanding, with practise over time, can help them improve performance, to a degree. Some students, though, experience sustained failure and cannot cope with intervention strategies and tools. Their brains are wired differently. This small but critical population of children (and adults) need something to help them immediately.
Spelling Software Programs for Children
For older students, rather than intervention and practise, software that identifies and helps correct spelling and grammar errors:
Ginger – a contextual spelling and grammar checker
Ghotit – English spelling, punctuation and grammar checker for people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other writing difficulties
TinySpell V1.9 – a free spell checker that works with any program
Note – Ginger and Ghotit require access to the internet in order to correct text based errors.
Other Spell Checkers
There are spell checkers to be found in productivity suites including MS Office, Pages on the MAC and free alternative programs including Apache Open Office Libre Office or Neo Office for MAC OS. Free text to speech (TTS) programs including Balabolka and SpeakComputer may be useful too. TinySpell is a small utility that resides in the task bar and monitors spelling errors, but Global AutoCorrect supplants this technology as it is a much superior, more robust option.
Literacy Support Software
Extra functions and features and supports may also be required within a written task. Automatically correcting words is a great first step to assist in users more accurately document ideas, aspirations, thoughts, facts and data. Homophone checkers, text to speech, text to audio, dictionary and thesaurus supports will be beneficial as well for many users, of all abilities. Depending upon the task, and the software being used, additional supports may be warranted.
These may include free options MyStudyBar, as well as mature and feature rich programs such as Texthelp Read & Write V10, Texthelp Read and Write V5 for MAC OS, Claroread V6 for PC and ClaroRead V5 for MAC OS Kurzweil for Windows, Wynn Wizard and others.
Potential Users and Markets
I consider that this wonderful tool has quite diverse markets. It can assist anyone in the following pursuits:
- School (Secondary and Tertiary – University, TAFE, Institutes of learning) students
- In Trade and Apprenticeship courses
- For Academics, Authors and people conducting Research
- In Business – workplace and training
- For anyone who wishes to improve their writing speed, efficiency and abilities!
I consider that if specific dictionaries were to be made available for key industries or enterprise, then Global AutoCorrect would gain traction very quickly. Writers of all abilities would become more productive. The time saved would prove to be significant in the workplace and in training institutes and courses, as well in Universities and TAFE colleges. Extra lexicons catering to specific needs, jargon, and terms are often required in different fields, particularly in academia and in further study and research fields.
Students who experience the dilemma of not being able to cope with writing, spelling, phonic, reading and comprehension go through complete hell at school. It is not a case of ‘trying harder’, ‘concentrating’, not ‘mucking around’, ‘being silly’ or not getting enough sleep! Educators must identify these students and realistically assess and then support them.
A dire need for pre-teacher training and courses dealing with students (and adults) with learning disabilities can help arrest this situation. Specific schools are required.
In 2012, with all of the research, studies, papers, conferences and sessions dealing with kids at risk with text creation, our Federal and State Governments in Australia persist in sitting on their collective hands and not committing funds and conducting due diligence.
Global AutoCorrect is currently available only for MS Windows but a MAC OS version is planned. It runs in the background and consumes very little RAM memory (less than 23MB running on my desktop computer) and hardly taxes the CPU. Installation is very straightforward.
- Windows® XP, Vista, 7 and soon to be released Windows 8
- 1GHz processor
- At least 256MB RAM
- Soundcard and speakers or headphones/earpiece
NOTE: The UK developer has yet to commit to an Australian distributor or reseller. It is available direct, though, from www.LexAble.com .