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Nov 25, 2008

The Fusion vs. AlphaSmart and Word Prediction

I previously posted about a training with did at a school on the AlphaSmart Neo - Believe Ability Blog: AlphaSmart Neo School Training and included a handout.

Another tool similar to the AlphaSmart Neo is the Fusion by The Writer Learning Systems. One of the obvious differences is the look. The Fusion has a sleek pseudo-iMac style, which some students may find appealing. The Fusion does seem more delicate and heavier than the AlphaSmart Neo. In our experience, the Fusion also has a more limited battery life requiring frequent recharges.

The Fusion does offer two significant features:

  • text to speech - i.e. it will read aloud (through headphones) the text in a synthesized voice
  • flexible/phonetic word prediction - while typing, a list of possible words is displayed - while the AlphaSmart Neo does offer the Co:Writer applet, it does not provide word prediction based on phonetically misspelled words
In our experience, the Fusion's word prediction could handle simple phonetic spelling errors, such as "durt" for "dirt". However it could not correctly predict more complex phonetical spelling errors such as "oshun" for "ocean" or letter order reversals such as "trun" for "turn". Unfortunately, many of the people we see with learning disabilities have these more complex spelling difficulties.

Co:Writer from Don Johnston Inc. is a software program that requires a Mac or Windows PC or notebook and does have the ability to handle these more complex spelling difficulties. Unfortunately, this level of support for significant spelling difficulties does not appear to be available on a light-weight writing device like the AlphaSmart or Fusion. And, as we have discussed previously, a laptop or notebook computer is usually not a good solution in school settings.

If you are interested in more information on assistive technology for writing or our services, please contact us.

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