Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spellwell Review

Crack spellings with spellwell

How often we face difficulty in spelling the word properly? Are you confused
between there or their? Do you understand the difference between aid or
aide? Have you ever felt the need for a tool which helps you to learn
spelling from the comfort of your home, and privacy so that no one gets to
know that you are bad at spellings?

Well, there exactly is such a software available, and the good news is that
it is developed in India, at affordable prices. Just a couple of days back
I had received a CD for the software called SpellWell, and since I had
participated during it's development as a user, and it looked promising
during the beta testing period, I was keen to test the final product as
well. The organization behind such a phenomenal software tool is enabling
dimensions, which is working on many products for persons with blindness.

SpellWell is a CD based software, which means you don't' need to install it
on your hard disk, saving valuable space and no clutter added. just put the
CD in and start practicing the spellings. Although it does not require any
installation, It seems to use little storage in my hard disk, as it
remembers my last location in the program, but it would only be for
recording information, not much.

The software is an interactive quiz, and can work without any screen reader,
as it has built in natural speech. Besides natural speech, it also has
musical clips to add to the fun of learning . What I specially liked about
it, that the messages spoken are different each time, which helps prevent
monotony. During the usage, I felt that there could be more messages, as
after some time I felt that I had already heard that message, another
improvement could be that messages could be changed for different types of
errors i.e. One set of messages for small errors or another set of messages
when one has really messed up everything. Although SpellWell works with
flash, it is completely accessible as all the required information is
presented through it's own interface. It also has built in help, which is a
proof that enabling dimensions has in depth understanding of users
requirements. So any time one is confused, one can issue a key for help, and
the software will inform about all the commands available to the users.

According to enabling dimensions, the need for such a software is because
Blind / Visually impaired persons usually read using auditory methods i.e.
audio tapes, human readers, or even screen reader software. I agree with the
logic, and since even with screen readers, we do not always read spellings.
And then there is problem with words which are pronounced in one way, but
spelled differently. A print or Braille reader would every time revise the
spellings, but an auditory reader would not do so often.

The rational to make effort in improving the spellings is that in job or
other places where written communication is important, not knowing the
spellings can really impede the further prospects, as people judge your
abilities based on how well you can write (including the spellings)

The following statement from enabling dimensions website is worth

Better communication and language skills enable a person with disability tap
new employment avenues like low end - medical transcription or data entry
operations to high-end jobs like business management and self-employment.

So I think this product would go a long way in improving the spellings for
the persons with blindness.

Dinesh Kaushal

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