SOFTWARE PROGRAMS FOR SPEECH THERAPY
by Orah Raia
Fall 1998, Vol. 10 No. 1
Francine Kartzman had been a speech pathologist for 30 years and never thought
that computers had a place in speech therapy, until she attended the Enhancing
Teaching and Learning with Computers and Assistive Technology conference in
May 1997, sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education, TECH-NJ at The
College of New Jersey, and NJ TARP. Mrs. Kartzman was so inspired by what she
learned at the conference that she made the decision to return to school to
learn more about technology. In fact, in January 1998 she enrolled in a
master's level course entitled Assistive Technology offered by the Department
of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
Adapting Software to Meet Special Needs
Mrs. Kartzman works for the Highland Park School District, known for its
philosophy of inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms
in neighborhood schools. When she returned from the conference in May 1997,
she decided to turn on the Power Mac computer in her room and began to
experiment with the preloaded software that came with the Mac. I observed her
nine months later on a typical morning during which a number of students, all
with different needs, came to her room for speech therapy.
Mrs. Kartzman used a very common application, Simple Text, with her
first group of students. They were capable of reading but had very poor
comprehension. The students were each given a set of three picture cards and
were asked to compose three sentences related to the pictures. She typed their
sentences into a Simple Text document. She then took advantage of
Simple Text's recording feature and had each student record their
sentences into the computer. Afterwards, she played back the sentences. The
students were delighted to hear their sentences read aloud in their own
voices. This activity provided both visual and auditory feedback of their
work. She then printed out their sentences so they could take them home to
The next group of students had very limited expressive language. Mrs.
Kartzman likes to use the Living Books series by Broderbund with them because
the programs are entertaining and provide excellent opportunities for
expressive language. The series contains children's literature titles such as
Just Grandma & Me, The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight,
Arthur's Teacher Trouble, and The Cat in the Hat. Each page of
the story is read aloud by the computer, and the individual words are
highlighted as they are read. In addition, each page contains a number of
"hot spots," which when clicked, perform surprising animations. For
example, a tree may come alive and dance or sing when clicked. I observed
students working with Stellaluna. With each page, Mrs. Kartzman asked
the children which objects to click. They would instinctively use their finger
to point to the object, but she would remind them to use their voices instead.
In this way, the children were provided with many opportunities to use
expressive language for a purpose. She asked many open-ended questions about
what they were seeing on the screen in order to provide them with
opportunities to answer in complete sentences.
For younger students Mrs. Kartzman used Edmark's Bailey's Book House
and Millie's Math House to enhance language while teaching early
learning concepts. She recommends the program My House by Laureate
Learning Systems for teaching functional vocabulary about common items found
around the house.
In another instance, Mrs. Kartzman used the Living Books series with a young
boy who has multiple disabilities. She commented that before she started
using the computer with him, he could not pay attention for longer than three
minute intervals. With Just Grandma and Me, Mrs. Kartzman was able to
hold his attention to the page on the screen while he waited for his favorite
page, the one with the hot dog. He mimicked all the characters and knew what
was coming up before the next page was turned. I asked her how many times he
had seen this program, expecting her to tell me over a dozen times. It had
only been 2-3 times! He was able to sit through 15 minutes, all the while
sitting closely to the screen, mesmerized by the pictures and sounds, grinning
from ear to ear.
Davidson's Magic Tale Series has worked well for fourth graders who are
studying Ellis Island. These multicultural tales from Russia, Japan, Africa,
Ireland, Italy, and Native America stress universal virtues of kindness,
sharing, courage and generosity, and they blend well with this unit lesson.
She also works collaboratively with the fourth grade teacher using the
program, If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island (Scholastic).
Another application Mrs. Kartzman recommends is Co:Writer by Don
Johnston Incorporated. Co:Writer is a word prediction program designed
for students who struggle with writing due to language delay, learning
disabilities or physical disabilities. As students type the first letter of a
word, a numbered list of words is displayed on the screen. If the correct
word is displayed, the student just types in its corresponding number, and the
word appears in the typed sentence. Students' typing ability and speed is
enhanced, so their efforts are focused on generating the sentence rather than
on the mechanics of typing. The speech output feature of Co:Writer
helps students who have reading difficulties or visual perceptual problems.
Mrs. Kartzman is eagerly looking forward to learning more about the computer
and the applications available. She takes advantage of all software preview
opportunities at workshops and conferences. Mrs. Kartzman is eager to share
her knowledge with her colleagues, and would like to see ongoing training for
staff at the district level. She is clearly an example of a professional who,
having witnessed the benefits technology can provide to her students, has
committed herself to furthering her own technology skills.
Don Johnston Incorporated
Bailey's Book HouseMillie's Math House
Arthur's Birthday Deluxe
Arthur's Computer Adventure
Arthur's Reading Race
Arthur's Teacher Trouble
Cat in The Hat
Dr. Seuss's ABC
Green Eggs & Ham
Just Grandma & Me Deluxe
Little Monster at School
Sheila Rae The Brave
The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight
The Berenstain Bears In the Dark
The Tortoise & the Hare
Orah Raia is an alumna of the graduate program of the Department of Special
Education at The College of New Jersey.
Back to index...