Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Wolff Heller - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Colleen M. O'Rourke

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul A. Alberto

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laura D. Fredrick

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Linda Fowler


Writing is an important skill that is necessary throughout school and life. Many students with physical disabilities, however, have difficulty with writing skills due to disability-specific factors, such as motor coordination problems. Due to the difficulties these individuals have with writing, assistive technology is often utilized. One piece of assistive technology, speech recognition software, may help remove the motor demand of writing and help students become more fluent writers. Past research on the use of speech recognition software, however, reveals little information regarding its impact on individuals with physical disabilities. Therefore, this study involved students of high school age with physical disabilities that affected hand use. Using an alternating treatments design to compare the use of word processing with the use of speech recognition software, this study analyzed first-draft writing samples in the areas of fluency, accuracy, type of word errors, recall of intended meaning, and length. Data on fluency, calculated in words correct per minute (wcpm) indicated that all participants wrote much faster with speech recognition compared to word processing. However, accuracy, calculated as percent correct, was much lower when participants used speech recognition compared to word processing. Word errors and recall of intended meaning were coded based on type and varied across participants. In terms of length, all participants wrote longer drafts when using speech recognition software, primarily because their fluency was higher, and they were able, therefore, to write more words. Although the results of this study indicated that participants wrote more fluently with speech recognition, because their accuracy was low, it is difficult to determine whether or not speech recognition is a viable solution for all individuals with physical disabilities. Therefore, additional research is needed that takes into consideration the editing and error correction time when using speech recognition software.