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Co:Writer University Edition Writing Tool Helps College Students with Disabilities

Author: Don Johnston Incorporated

Published: 2010-07-13 : (Rev. 2011-11-30)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Word prediction writing tool accommodates individuals with writing disorders and physical disabilities.

Main Digest

NEW Co:Writer University Edition Writing Tool Helps College Students with Disabilities Express Clear Thoughts; Write with Proper Spelling and Grammar.

Word prediction writing tool accommodates individuals with writing disorders and physical disabilities. Specifically designed to support postsecondary students in writing assignments. Works in all common writing applications and includes hundreds of topic dictionaries.

Don Johnston just announced its new Co:Writer University Edition writing tool at the AHEAD Conference in Denver, Colorado. (Association on Higher Education and Disability)

This writing accommodation will help postsecondary students with writing disorders and physical disabilities express their thoughts more clearly with proper spelling and grammar.

Co:Writer acts like a personal writing assistant and uses FlexSpell technology to predict words and phrases students wish to write. The tool appears as a small window on the computer screen and works in all writing applications that accept text such as MS Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Facebook, Gmail, blogs, wikis and instant messaging. As students type, a list of words and phrases are suggested and read aloud through a computer's synthesized speech. Students can select words or phrases using a mouse, keyboard or switch.

The program includes hundreds of curriculum-aligned topic dictionaries and postsecondary vocabulary on a variety of subjects from mathematics to cell biology to music and art. Students can also customize topic dictionaries based on assignments and personal interests. Preferences can be set to use accessibility features, change the rate of speed, select a voice or choose a level of topic dictionaries.

Students with writing disorders such as dysgraphia, the inability to form letters or numbers, or those with dyslexia can have difficulty spelling and making logical transitions in their writing assignments. These challenges can significantly impact the ability for K-12 and postsecondary students and adults with disabilities to demonstrate their true writing potential. For individuals with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, Co:Writer can minimize hand fatigue associated with repetitive keyboarding.

Symptoms that suggest writing disabilities include:

poor or illegible handwriting
excessive spelling, punctuation and grammar errors
sentences that lack cohesion and transition, and
paragraphs and stories that are missing elements

Kristin Rytter, PhD, a scholar, business owner and self-published author with quadriplegia used Morse code with Co:Writer to complete her graduate studies at the University of Washington. She earned a PhD in Psychology and recently published her memoir, People Who Raised Me Beyond, about what it was like to grow up with a significant physical disability.

"I wanted to become a writer at an early age" said Dr. Rytter. "I didn't know how challenging my dream would be considering my reading and spelling difficulties, physical challenges and no speech. Through determination, education and Co:Writer, I had the ability and the will to become a published author."

"Over 5000 K-12 schools use Co:Writer to accommodate students with learning and physical disabilities and to provide a universal design for learning (UDL) environment," said Kevin Johnston, Director of Business Development at Don Johnston. "Now with the Co:Writer University Edition, postsecondary students can demonstrate their knowledge and true potential. We celebrate Dr. Rytter's new book and her success. She inspires us that through the use of assistive technologies, like Co:Writer and the human spirit, we can achieve anything we set out to accomplish."

The Co:Writer University Edition runs on Mac OS 10.4-10.6, Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. A Campus-Wide License costs $3,999 for colleges and universities with less than 10,000 students and $4,999 for student enrollment over 10,000. Co:Writer can be installed on all campus computers and individual student laptops. A single computer license costs $325.

Visit or call 1-800-999-4660 to request a quote.

Resource Links: Watch a 5 minute Co:Writer University Edition demo ( )

Learn more about Dr. Kristen Rytter's book, "People Who Raised Me Beyond" (

Download the Co:Writer Train-in-30 tutorial ( )

Read Co:Writer research - Word prediction in U.S. schools: (

Don Johnston develops accessible and emerging reading and writing technologies to support K-12 and postsecondary students with cognitive, physical, and learning disabilities. Since 1980, the company has partnered with literacy experts, AT specialists, SLPs, OTs, special education teachers, university researchers and DSS coordinators to improve access to learning and to increase writing independence. Students and individuals with dyslexia, autism, dysgraphia, down-syndrome and diverse learning challenges will benefit from software and hardware devices to accommodate them in education and workforce programs.

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