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For Those with Visual Processing Disorders, Assistive Technology Is a Clear Winner

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

What is visual processing disorder?

A visual processing disorder is a condition where the brain has difficulty interpreting and making sense of visual information, even though the eyes may be functioning normally. It's not a problem with the eyes themselves, but rather with the way the brain processes visual information.

Why is visual processing important?

For people with a visual processing disorder, it can be challenging to make sense of what they see, especially when it comes to tasks such as reading, writing, and math. They may have difficulty recognizing shapes, letters, and numbers, or may struggle to differentiate between similar objects. They may also have trouble with visual memory, which can make it hard to remember and recall visual information.

What causes visual processing disorders?

Visual processing disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including brain injuries, genetic factors, and developmental disorders. They can range in severity from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on a person's ability to learn, communicate, and navigate the world around them. It's important for people with visual processing disorders to receive support and accommodations that can help them overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.


How can we help those with visual processing disorders to write?

Assistive technology can be a valuable tool for children and adults with visual processing disorders who struggle with writing tasks. One helpful tool that can aid in this area is speech-to-text software. Speech-to-text software allows the child to speak into a microphone and have their words converted into written text on a computer screen. This can be especially helpful for children who have difficulty with the fine motor skills required for handwriting or who struggle to visually process written text. Additionally, speech-to-text software can reduce frustration and improve the child's writing speed, as they can express their thoughts more quickly and accurately through speech.

Another helpful tool for children with visual processing disorders who struggle with writing is a specialized writing program. These programs can include features such as text-to-speech, word prediction, and highlighting and editing tools. Text-to-speech allows the child to hear their written words read aloud, which can help with editing and proofreading. Word prediction can help the child generate ideas and reduce the cognitive load required for writing, while highlighting and editing tools can aid in revision and organization. These programs can be used on a computer or tablet and can be tailored to the child's individual needs, making them a valuable resource for children with visual processing disorders who need support in the writing process.


How can I help someone with a visual processing disorder to write?


Here's a step-by-step plan for a child (or adult) with a visual processing disorder to follow for one month to see improvement in writing skills:

Week 1:


  1. Introduce the child to speech-to-text software and teach them how to use it. Encourage them to practice dictating their thoughts using the software for 10-15 minutes a day.

  2. Provide the child with a writing prompt each day and have them use the speech-to-text software to write a response. Encourage them to focus on expressing their ideas clearly and accurately.

  3. At the end of the week, review the child's writing with them and provide feedback on areas for improvement.

Week 2:

  1. Introduce the child to a specialized writing program that includes text-to-speech and word prediction features. Teach them how to use these features effectively.

  2. Provide the child with a writing prompt each day and have them use the specialized writing program to write a response. Encourage them to use the text-to-speech and word prediction features as needed.

  3. At the end of the week, review the child's writing with them and provide feedback on areas for improvement.

Week 3:

  1. Continue to use the specialized writing program from the previous week, but encourage the child to focus on using the highlighting and editing tools to revise and improve their writing.

  2. Provide the child with a more challenging writing prompt each day, and encourage them to take their time and focus on the quality of their writing.

  3. At the end of the week, review the child's writing with them and provide feedback on areas for improvement.

Week 4:

  1. Encourage the child to continue practicing their writing skills using both the speech-to-text software and the specialized writing program.

  2. Provide the child with a variety of writing prompts that require different types of writing skills (e.g. persuasive writing, descriptive writing, narrative writing).

  3. At the end of the week, review the child's writing with them and provide feedback on their progress over the past month.


Throughout the month, it's important to provide the child with positive reinforcement and support, and to encourage them to practice their writing skills regularly. If you are a teacher in a classroom, find 10 minutes during the day to ask ALL children to reflect and respond in a similar manner to practice writing across the board. By using these tools and implementing a plan, the child should see improvement in their writing skills and confidence over time and create an important life-long skill along the way.

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