Any adaptations that are made to facilitate student learning must be noted in a student's I.E.P. These adaptations must be used by the student on a regular basis throughout the school year in order for them to be admissible when writing a MEES exam.
The official document entitled "ADMINISTRATIVE Guide 2015-EDITION, Certification of Studies and Management of Ministerial Examinations" can be downloaded from the MEES website. Download
Chapter 5 ( page 104 - 107 ) describes what adaptations are admissible for ministerial examinations.
Word Processor Adaptations
The “writing process” for students follows a general pattern starting with the pre-writing activities of reading, discussion, gathering information, brainstorming and creating some sort of outline. This sets the stage for the writing of a first draft which should focus on committing ideas to paper.
An active spelling and grammar checker can interfere with this process by giving immediate feedback to the student with little red and green lines under questionable writing. This can be very distracting and often causes the writer to loss their train of thought. Spelling and Grammar checkers are useful but need to be used at the right time in the process for the needs of the writer.
When students are drafting a piece of writing the first step is to get ideas down on paper. Wether words are spelled correctly or sentences are grammatically correct is secondary at this stage.
The Spell Check and Grammar Check features in WORD and LibreOffice run automatically by default but can be turned off. They can be called up later when needed. Below are instructions on how to do this:
Adapting WORD 2007 (PC) Download PDF
Adapting WORD 2008/2011 (MAC) Download PDF
Adapting LibreOffice ( PC/MAC ) Download PDF
The writing process has many steps. Students can benefit from using different types of assistive technology while going through these steps. Whether using a PC, Mac, Android, Chromebook, tablet or ipad, each technology has apps that can do similar kinds tasks.
The graphic below illustrates what technology could be used at the different stages.
The benefits to the student are in the writing strategies they learn to use. Which technology or app needs to be based on the needs of the individual student.
Text to Speech (TTS)
Basic Text to Speech ( TTS ) capabilities come with the OS X operating systems and can be used to have the computer read text to you. There are several 3rd party applications both free and for sale that can be added to your computer that will also do TTS. For Windows 10, there are Balabloka, Natural Reader and WordQ (amongst others). In the Chromebook environment "Read & Write", a 3rd party extension, can be purchased (see note below).
It is recommended to try out the features that come with the computer or the free apps first to see if this is a useful adaptation before investing in an application that costs money and is sometimes more complicated than what is needed.
Text to speech allows the user to select a body of text on the screen and then have the computer read that text out loud. The voice, rate of speech and in some cases inflection can all be customised to the needs of the user.
Any text that can be "selected" on your computer can have TTS applied to it. ( pdfs, word processor documents, webpages...)
For users that have decoding problems but have good auditory comprehension, TTS allows them access to content they would otherwise have difficulty with.
In the writing process, having the computer read back text that has been written in a word processor, gives the writer useful auditory feedback that they may not pick up on if reading the text silently to themselves.
Questions to keep in mind when listening to the text during the revision stage of the writing process;
Does this text say what I intended?
Are there missing ideas that I need to add?
Are there words missing?
It is best to select in small chunks at first, a sentence or at most a paragraph at a time.
Some Text to Speech engines require a connection to the internet in order to function. Chromebooks and tablets tend to work this way. Internet access is not allowed during MEES exams. Special authorization from the MEES is required In order for a student to use TTS with internet access.
Balabloka TTS for PC info (PDF): Download
Natural Reader TTS for PC (PDF): Download
TTS OS X (PDF): Download
OpenDyslexic is an Open Source font that can be installed on PC's, Macs and Linux computers.
It is designed to increase readability for some readers with dyslexia. For more information go to http://dyslexicfonts.com/
Once the font is installed it can be used within your word processor or you can create a template file for your word processor and add Opendyslexic as the default font. This template can be called whenever creating a new document making it easier for a person with dyslexia to read what they are writing as they work on their text.