WordQ: Powerful Software Giving Those Who Struggle With Literacy a Passport to the Digital World

Posted may 4, 2011

We now live in a Digital, Global environment. As one study put it, ‘Many of the World’s most Developed Countries have shifted from an Iindustrial Economy to a Knowledge Economy – one that is based on the production and distribution of Knowledge and Information, rather than the production and Distribution of things.’

The outcomes from such a cataclysmic shift are that basic assumptions about how people think, learn, create, communicate and work, individually or together, are fading away. Almost 50 per cent of citizens in many developed nations function at literacy levels that challenge their ability to remain economically viable in the modern workforce.

Literacy is to education and lifelong learning what nourishment is to humanity and lifelong health.

Thinking, learning, intuition, imagination and innovation have become the currency of the new knowledge economy. Literacy, the ability to access, process and share information, has moved to the forefront. In its digital, multi-faceted form, literacy has become a leading component for personal, organisational and national success, impacting individuals and societies worldwide.

The global economic implications are substantial. The need to improve literacy levels worldwide is becoming urgent. ‘A one percent increase in adult literacy produces a permanent 1.5 per cent increase in the gross domestic product,’ according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

From Clinic to Computer

Quillsoft – the legacy of research and development projects at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto. Canada – was founded by Dr Fraser Shein in December 2000. Holland Bloorview is Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital and a University of Toronto teaching hospital.

Clinical discoveries and technological innovations by Holland Bloorview’s scientists and engineers have benefited children worldwide. Two such technological innovations, WordQ and SpeakQ software, were developed by Dr Shein and an extensive research team to assist individuals who struggle with writing and reading.

WordQ is a software tool used along with standard writing software to help users create original content while giving them the ability to prevent, find and fix errors themselves. WordQ suggests words when users have trouble spelling and offers examples for easily confused words. It also provides spoken feedback to help edit and proofread while they work.

A special text-reading mode helps users by reading aloud any text that can be highlighted, including emails, web pages and instant messages.

WordQ features a carefully thought-out design with only essential functions that have been demonstrated to benefit students in the writing process. Productivity and self-confidence lost to mechanical mistakes are recaptured, while writing, clarity and independence are enhanced. Using integrated word prediction, text-to-speech and easy speech recognition, WordQ – combined with its companion plug-in SpeakQ – is the world’s first (and currently only) fully integrated writing support.

Seaking Simplicity

SpeakQ plugs into WordQ and adds forgiving speech recognition that is tolerant of mild accents and speech difficulties. It works exceptionally well for those who have trouble writing and reading from the outset. They can benefit from a combination of word prediction, speech output and speech input to generate context-relevant text when challenged with spelling and word forms.

Hearing everything read back with precision ensures that irregularities in grammar, punctuation and spelling stand out, making editing and proofreading a part of the learning process.

SpeakQ features a simple training interface where the computer speaks aloud and the user repeats, so no reading is required. They can then dictate directly into any document and the software will repeat what it hears, ensuring comprehension. Users can also dictate into WordQ’s prediction list, to personalise the language accessed. A handful of hot keys are used to activate functions and there are no verbal commands, so the focus rests solely on dictation.

Quillsoft recognises that many people struggle with literacy and accessibility. WordQ and SpeakQ have become powerful, lifelong learning tools to aid in that struggle. They are forgiving by design and unobtrusive to the writing process, making it possible for individuals to overcome their writing difficulties and achieve their true potential.

We invite you to visit the new WordQ + SpeakQ website at www.goQsoftware.com.

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