Type & Talk 4

Type & Talk (T&T) 4 is a reading and writing package for pupils aged 7-12 with learning difficulties – typically, dyslexia. Because dyslexics can experience difficulty with reading, T&T can speak text when highlighted on screen – and all clickable icons can also be spoken. Words can be spoken letter-by-letter, word-by-word or sentence-by-sentence. Voice volume, pitch and speed can be adjusted to suit the individual, and all the Mac OS Voices are available to T&T. Although word-processing packages have spell-checks, these are no good for those with learning difficulties, because they often can’t read or interpret suggested corrections. T&T bridges this divide using a number of key features. One is its Homonym Checker. Homonyms are words that sound similar, but have different meanings and spellings – there and their, for example – and they often trip-up dyslexics. Normal spellcheckers won’t flag-up homonyms, but in T&T they appear in blue type. When the user clicks on a blue word, a complete list of alternatives and meanings is displayed in a separate column. Because dyslexics tend to spell phonetically, a phonetic spell-checker corrects the most complex of errors. Fizicks, instead of physics, is an example. For students who struggle to form words and sentences, T&T’s Prediction feature provides a useful crutch. As the student types in the first letter of a word, a list of words are suggested in a word-prediction column. T&T also has a spelling log, which records the type of mistake made, so teachers can draft individualized education plans. For users who want to use words creatively, there is Word Wizard, which offersstep-by-step guidance towards the word the user needs to type. There is also a thesaurus, complete with spoken sample-sentences to give contextual help. Min specs: System 7.6.1; 64MB RAM; Mac Runtime for Java 2.1.4.

OUR VERDICT

T&T is Java-based, meaning it’s not Mac-specific. It crippled my blue-&-white G3 and I had to clean-reinstall Mac OS 9. T&T publisher, Help Systems, insists that extensive Mac-based testing was carried out prior to release – and did run problem-free on another G3 Mac. Type & Talk has been designed with classrooms in mind. A £250 school site-licence allows the software to be installed on a network for use on an unlimited number of machines. If a school has just one machine, a multi-profile function allows an unlimited number of users to save individual lessons and preferences. T&T may also appeal to those with a dyslexic child. A simple-to-follow manual is provided with the software and, for those who can’t read, the same information can be spoken within T&T. VAT can be claimed-back by schools and individual users if that user has a registered learning difficulty.

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