A word processing program is a computer application that is used to produce different printable materials. There are various programs, for example Microsoft word which is the most currently used software with over 500,000,000 users (Wolf & Berninger, 2009). Students with special needs, such as learning disabilities, are not mostly considered in the business manifestos of the software producing companies. It is important that this negative trend be checked by companies making word processing programs. There are many positive outcomes that would accompany the production and availability of various word processing computer applications specially designed to suit students with learning and physical disabilities. These disabilities include blindness, impaired hands or general paralysis, dyslexia, and other disabilities (Collins, 2006).
Students who are blind are challenged in using most of the word processing applications. Due to the students’ lack of sight they are not able to carry out the simple tasks of commanding the computer (Cusimano, 2003). Developing a word processing program that would be in line with this disability would help many to be able to use the programs. Currently there is some software that helps visually challenged users of word processing documents to magnify the letter fonts up to 16 times bigger. Special word processing software such as those recognizing Braille like letter application would also be very important. This would mean that the blind students would be able to type their own assignments as they would be connected with the Braille feature.
A student with impaired hands or paralyzed at all would be severely challenged in using the common word processing software. This student would only be able to type very little or nothing at all. A word processing application that addresses this situation could far more be in order if developed. Audio synthesizers should also be incorporated in the software to guide the disabled users. This is a feature that would be able to let the users dictate their writing as the word processor converts them to a document. This feature would help improve the work done by physically impaired student as it would ensure their typing speed increases.
Dyslexia is a disability exhibited by quite a number of students; it is characterized by the inability to understand written words easily (Wolf & Berninger, 2009). This form of disability can be very challenging to users of word processing applications. The student who has a problem in accurately spelling and reading words would not be able to effectively work using a non specialized word processing program. Automatic grammar changes in wrongly spelled words are a feature that would be very useful to students with dyslexia (Wolf & Berninger, 2009). Such a feature ensures that the students writing is automatically checked and corrected before they do a spelling and grammar check on their writing.
As has been shown above the development of word processors for students with disabilities would be of help in easing their usage of the programs. It would also give them an equal opportunity in their studies alongside students who had all their senses working well. This is because students most of the word processing software available is not developed to fit the unique needs of those with disabilities. No student chose to be born with disabilities or to become disabled in their life time. It is thus important that companies developing word processors make programs for these students to give them a chance to use their programs just like any other normal person.
Wolf, J. & Berninger, V (2009). Teaching Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. London: Paul H
Collins, T. (2006). A Guide to Selecting Word-Processing Software for Learning Disabled
College Writers. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Cusimano, A. (2003). A Visual Memory Program. New York: Achieve Publications.