Writing skills in dyslexics when using or not assistive technology compared to writing skills in non-dyslexic peers of same age and younger

Writing skills in dyslexics when using or not assistive technology compared to writing skills in non-dyslexic peers of same age and younger

First Author: Julie Robidoux -- Universite de Montreal
Additional authors/chairs: 
Brigitte Stanké; Nadia Rousseau
Keywords: Developmental dyslexia, Writing skills, Assistive technology
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Most children with developmental dyslexia show poor writing skills when compared to their peers. Their difficulties are usually attributed to poor spelling skills, which may limit complex writing processes (Beers & al., 2017). In Quebec, dyslexics are trained to use assistive technology (AT) to enhance their writing skills. Evidence regarding effectiveness of AT has reported positive effects on spelling accuracy but mixed effects on quality and quantity measures (Batorowicz & al., 2012). This talk presents results regarding the effectiveness of AT on dyslexics’ writing skills and compares their skills to those of their peers.

Method. Twenty-six French-speaking dyslexics in 7th grade who used assistive technologies, and eighty 4th to 7th grade students without dyslexia (20 per grade) participated in this study. Students watched a cartoon and were then asked to write down the story. Dyslexics wrote their text on a computer without using any AT, and their peers wrote on paper. A week later, dyslexics wrote a second text based on a similar cartoon, this time using AT.

Results. Effectiveness of AT on dyslexics' writing skills was analyzed by comparing quality and quantity of both texts (paired T-tests). Statistically significant improvement was shown on spelling and grammar. Preliminary results showed differences on quality and quantity measures between dyslexics and their peers (Mann-Whitney tests). For example, dyslexics added significantly less adverbs than their younger peers. They used less complex conjunctive ties than their same-age peers. Even if their sentences are longer, they produced less words than their peers, both same-age and younger.

Conclusion. Use of AT seems to have no effect on quality and quantity of dyslexics’ writing skills, except for transcription abilities. However, even if dyslexics use AT since younger age, it doesn’t mean they use it properly or have been trained sufficiently to meet requirements of higher education.