Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Kathy Wolff Heller - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Beth Calhoon - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Laura D. Fredrick - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Susan Easterbrooks - Committee Member


Writing is a multifaceted, complex task that involves interaction between physical and cognitive skills. Individuals with physical disabilities vary in terms of both their physical and cognitive abilities. Often they must overcome one or more significant barriers in order to engage in the task of writing. Minimizing or eliminating barriers is important because opportunities are greater for individuals who can effectively communicate their ideas via writing. Assistive technology (AT) is an increasingly effective solution to increase typing fluency. The purpose of this study is to examine if word prediction software, a commonly used software program used with individuals with learning disabilities, will be effective for those with physical impairments to increase typing rate and reduce spelling errors (fluency). Data will be collected for words correct per minute (WCPM) and errors (e.g., spelling). Four middle- or high school-aged participants with diverse physical disabilities will be recruited in this single subject, alternating treatment design. Participants will type for three-minute timed sessions using either a standard word processor or Co:Writer 4000, a word prediction software program. Specific research questions are: (a) to what extent will students with physical and health disabilities produce greater WCPM when writing a draft paper on a common topic using word prediction rather than word processing, (b) to what extent will the use of word prediction software result in the production of different types of errors compared to errors produced using word processing, (c) to what extent will the use of word prediction software increase accuracy by decreasing spelling errors, (d) to what extent will more text be produced using word prediction software than with word processing, and (e) to what extent will word prediction increase motivation or willingness to write? Data will be graphed and analyzed for bifurcation. Bifurcation will be determined by examination of the means, level of performance, and trend. Finally, examination of errors will be used to verify spelling accuracy.