Touch Typing Software for Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Englishtype was designed by an Educational Psychologist specialising in helping children with Special Needs, particularly Dyslexia. The multi-sensory design and strong literacy content in the program have also shown great results with other Special Needs including Dyspraxia, ASD/Autism, Aspergers, Semantic Pragmatic & other language disorders and Visual Impairment.
And many children with SEN also have multiple diagnoses and needs, Englishtype’s design supports learning needs in these various different areas. Touch typing provides a very different option for written work and usually has significant effects, increasing quantity & quality of work, a much needed boost to self esteem and independent working.
Why is touch typing helpful for Special Needs?
Learning to touch type brings many additional benefits to Special Needs individuals, and is often an invaluable, or even life changing, skill. Learning as a child benefits reading, spelling, comprehension & vocabulary. It greatly reduces the need for handwriting, usually a disliked/difficult/challenging/distressing area, and errors can be corrected easily producing neat written work. Schools are required to allow laptop usage if it is the child’s “normal way of working” – touch typing is an obvious, clear demonstration of this and cannot be disputed.
The single most important benefit comes from transferring the skill in the brain into the unconscious physical skill centre, or muscle memory. This is a very powerful part of the brain. Being able to type by touch means better accuracy, higher speed, significant improvements in spelling, less visual stress, less physical stress on the hands, and decreases cognitive load in the conscious brain – as the unconscious controls the “process”, the conscious mind is free to focus on what to say.
There is a lot of attention on voice recognition at the moment, and many schools offer a scribe for exams. With Alexa, Siri, Hey Google – everyone is jumping aboard. But dictation (using a scribe) or voice recognition software can be very difficult & time consuming to master for anyone. Ever tried dictating a letter? It’s really not easy – you don’t just stand up and give a speech, you prepare well in advance, making notes, thinking through what you’re going to say. If you’re going to use a scribe or dictation software, it takes a long time to train your brain and the software. It’s hard enough to get your phone to make a call to the right person or get Alexa to play one track on your stereo, never mind dictate a few thousand words! Plus, ‘thought to speech’ and ‘thought to script’ have been shown to be different processes in the brain. So when you are engaged in writing (with a pen or a keyboard), a different part of brain is activated than when you speak.
Why choose Englishtype?
Englishtype is carefully designed to boost literacy and spelling at the same time as teaching typing, as well as providing a learning environment that is supportive for Special Needs. Designed by an Educational Psychologist, it boosts literacy & spelling and is fun too.
- Improves reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Unlike other software, it uses only age relevant & useful vocabulary
- Variety of exercises target muscle memory effectively
- No nonsense words or random strings of letters
- Set vocabulary level appropriate for each child (choice of 3 levels)
- Junior uses words from National Curriculum Spelling lists/appendix
- Senior uses the 300 most common words in adult vocabulary, quotations & proverbs
- Extra (optional) spelling lessons for programming more words into the muscle memory
What are Englishtype's Special Needs friendly features?
- A strong multi-sensory approach
- Unique key / finger colour coding system
- Highly structured content for easy skill acquisition
- Carefully chosen vocabulary boosts spelling & literacy
- Visually simple & uncluttered presentation style
- Both spoken & written instructions
- Choice of background screen colours
- Short lessons aid concentration and focus
- Fun arcade-style games keep motivation high
- Large font option and lower case keyboard display
- Special exercises and games to increase speed
Englishtype’s unique coloured keyboard
For Special Needs children, the biggest benefits of touch typing come from when the unconscious muscle memory takes over the skill – and the spelling! It’s essential not to see the letters while learning or the muscle memory doesn’t work. Covering the hands & keyboard is a traditional approach but for SEN children this can make learning much more difficult and can be de-motivating. Making a coloured keyboard to compliment onscreen colours gives a big boost to learning.
Englishtype’s unique colour coding is designed to encourage the mastery of the physical skill. Making a special keyboard for learning is cheap & easy, you don’t need to ruin your main keyboard – customise a USB keyboard and plug it into the computer.
Children are usually curious about a keyboard with no letters, only colours – they are engaged and motivated to learn. Use texture on F and J, and smaller pieces can be used temporarily on other keys to assist learning particular letters (see Learning to Type page).