Ghotit – Real Writer and Reader V9.3 for MS Windows and Mac OS X Review

Ghotit Software and Apps are literacy support tools, available for MS Windows and MAC OS X computers as well as iOS iPhones and iPads.The original concept was to help people with dyslexia. Over the years, ensuing versions and multiple updates include new features and functions, the Ghotit Real Writer and Reader software caters to a broader audience of potential users. It is now one of the three leading literacy support tools in the world – and expanding each month. Users can work with Ghotit RW&R with a preferred word processor (e.g. MS Word, Google Docs, Open Office Org, Libre Office, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, Inspiration, XMind, Google Slides, Pages etc.) or use it with any text entry tool, website, mind mapping or note-taking program.

2 students expressiing excitement at a computer screen

Primarily Ghotit RW&R is targeted to users with:  

  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Users with writing difficulties
  • A learning disability
  • A developmental learning disorder
  • Auditory Processing Disorders
  • Visual Processing Disorders
  • Meares Irlen Syndrome
  • ADD or ADHD
  • A Print Handicap
  • Mild deafness
  • Partial sight loss or vision impairment
  • ABI (Acquired Brain Injury)
  • English as a Second Language (ESL or EAL – English as an Alternative Language)
  • New arrivals learning English or wishing to work with English based texts
  • Mild learning disorders
  • Elderly citizens who want to have their grammar, spelling and punctuation checked
  • Executive Functioning disorders
  • Students who want to use Ghotit RW&R to study, research and gather facts (using the new colour Highlighting tool)
  • Use in exams with crucial features disabled but with necessary supports active (Exams)
  • Students and adults who struggle with text and spelling, reading, comprehension as well as decoding words
  • Users of all ages with learning disabilities
  • Any student who enjoys writing with spelling and grammar supports

Ghotit text input window

As with other learning disabilities, dyslexia is a lifelong challenge that users are born with. Dyslexia can be described “as a processing disorder that can hinder and affect reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes speaking”. The Ghotit website is an excellent resource for parents, students, educators, therapists and adult users as it has up-to-date information about dyslexia and other learning disorders.

Dysgraphia requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills and is also categorised as a learning disability. It predominantly makes the act of writing difficult. It can then lead to problems with spelling, poor, slow or disorganised handwriting, with users having difficulty putting their thoughts on paper. Users with dysgraphia can have trouble organising letters, numbers, and words on a line or page.

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader supports these users with powerful features that assist in the writing, reading and editing processes. Users can type directly into the program’s window, or transfer, cut, copy or paste text (or highlight text and press F6) into the program window from another text-based program.

 

ghotit93-image007

 

Users can elect to open text (.txt) or HTML files from within the program. Any text composed or acquired and then edited can be saved as text or HTML or exported as a PDF, MS Word (.doc or .docx) or .dot (Open Office Org) file standards.

Ghotit’s spelling and grammar checking service include text-to-speech, grammar and full punctuation support. An Internet connection is not required at home, school, university or workplace when using and deploying the program. Once installed, all of the voices, spelling lists, dictionaries and word prediction resources are loaded just after it launches.

Main Features

The interface design is functional, and navigation is intuitive. The menus and buttons can be easily accessed, are large in appearance and are designed to appeal to a broad range of users. It is a simple yet beguilingly, powerful tool. The appeal for me is that the icons are identical on the three platforms of Win OS and Mac OS X computers. This consistency in appearance helps users who use multiple OS and might have trouble otherwise locating the required icon when swapping from one tool to the next.

Ghotit Real Writer & Reader software includes advanced writing and reading assistive technologies:

  • A floating toolbar 
  • A turn on/off button to hide or reveal the toolbar
  • A very intuitive and clutter-free interface
  • A Ghotit Editing Window where users can cut/copy-paste or select text and press F6 to transfer the required passage to Ghotit software
  • Context and phonetic spell checker
  • Corrector of confusables – homophones – or words that sound the same but are spelt correctly but used in an incorrect context
  • Colour text, background colour of the page, highlighting colour using text-to-speech and colour ‘bouncing ‘ ball’ when it is read aloud so people an easily see the word or sentence being voiced
  • Powerful and accurate Word Prediction (both contextual & phonetic)
  • Predict-Anywhere functionality
  • Grammar and punctuation checker
  • An excellent proof-reader
  • Text-to-speech support with a reading function that voices text in any document
    • As a user enters or types the text
    • After text has been typed or pasted/transferred from the Internet, a Word or a Notepad document
  • ScreenShot Reader (the facility to ‘capture’ any text from any program window and have it voiced and pasted into the editing window. It can read text within images or photos, locked PDF files, etc.
  • Multiple editing windows
  • Australian, New Zealand, US, U, South African dictionaries 
  • Line spacing from 0.5 up to 2.75 in height
  • Exams feature (turn off features disallowed in exams)
  • Highlighting – gather text from MS Word in four coloured highlights and create a new document for all manner of study, research and data collection purposes
  • Large “function buttons” voice text and start the correction process. They can turn the Word Prediction off and on. A Control button (a large green circle tick with a white tick) activates or deactivates the function buttons (i.e. they appear or disappear).
  • Speech control toolbar including play, back and forwards one sentence, pause and stop buttons
  • All of the floating toolbars can be moved and repositioned for maximum access and benefit
  • New file, Open file, Save and Print buttons
  • Text layouts, font, size and text colour
  • Multiple un-dos and re-dos, and cut and paste buttons
  • Quick formatting buttons (Boldface, Italics, left/right/centred and full justification)
  • A one-click export button to multiple popular file formats
  • Powerful phonetic and context-sensitive spell checker
  • Advanced grammar and punctuation corrector
  • Quick-Spell Word-Prediction with instant correction for creative/phonetic writers
  • Word-Prediction topics (i.e. using Advanced Word-Banks)
  • Speak as you write (i.e. speech feedback – spoken at a fast or slow rate in a preferred human quality male/female voice)
  • Integrated dictionary, with meanings of each word that can be read aloud
  • User dictionary
  • Topics dictionaries (fully editable)
  • Reading assistance with text dual colour user-selectable highlighting
  • Ghotit RW&R is an ideal editor for Google Docs
  • Ghotit WR&R is an independent Text Editor
  • Voice dictation (using respective MS Windows and MAC OS 10 built-in voice dictation)
  • Works seamlessly with Dragon Naturally Speaking (i.e. a separate purchase)
  • Comprehensive collection of Emoji on the MAC
  • An excellent spell-checker – see a review by CALL Scotland comparing like-products with Ghotit featuring prominently.

It has an independent floating toolbar that provides the user with the ability to:

  • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation of selected text in any document, web site or program
  • Read highlighted text in a document, PDF file or web site with coloured text, background colour and a “bouncing ball” colour
  • Read back text in locked PDFs, from artwork, photographs or screen content (e.g. games)

Ghotit’s patented Text Correction technology provides the most accurate fixes for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes according to the intended meaning of a text. This is not unique as there are competing products with similar claims, but it performs these functions with an extremely high degree of accuracy, speed and efficiency.

Settings

Speech

 

Ghotit Speech settings

 

The program can be customised to accommodate an individual’s needs, skills and deficits. The Speech tab includes a choice of voice (I elected to use Lee or Karen on the MAC) and rate of speech, i.e. words per minute. This can be adjusted at any time.

Speech feedback can be turned on so that when text entered, it is voiced word by word. Dual highlighting is available for highlighting words or phrases, the defaults being yellow and light blue.

These can also be changed to suit visual needs (e.g. users with Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome).  

Author: I would like to see speech feedback for letters; words, phrases and or sentences as some user require this support. Letter names or letter sounds can also be useful for therapists in teaching phonics.

A relatively recent article (March 2019) on using text-to-speech might enlighten educators and trainers as to the options that have when using text-to-speech technology.

English

 

Ghotit English settings

 

Under the English tab, users can select from Australian, New Zealand, US, UK, Canadian or South African English. This customisation is an important inclusion and feature for speakers and writers in these countries. The pronunciation of the same words can be vastly different. Spelling is a big issue with most Australian Schools and in the workplace with most users opting for Australian English or UK English, especially teachers.

Users or educators, therapists, trainers or parents can choose one of the English dictionaries in this dialogue box. The descriptions window setting can be a standalone window as well.

A personal dictionary is available. Words can be added one at a time. Users can check that the word is appropriate or spelt correctly and also deleted if unwanted, incorrectly spelt in inappropriate (swear words or slang).

Word Prediction and Predict-Anywhere

Word prediction with meaning of the word shown

Word Prediction is now available on Mac OS X and on MS Windows computers as well as iPhones and iPads. It can be very useful or very frustrating when it predicts incorrectly. The technology was originally designed for users with physical disabilities with Co:Writer from Don Johnson, one of the most accurate software programs on the market. It is no longer available in Australia.

Word Prediction technology works on how frequently the word is used and how recently it has been used plus the context of the sentence. Ghotit RW&R starts word-prediction local to the Ghotit Editor and writes with predictions in the Ghotit Editing Window. To write with word-prediction in other software or applications, people can use the Predict Anywhere button at the Floating Toolbar.

Ghotit has really perfected this technology. Each word predicted is listed with its meaning, and both can be voiced for struggling readers or users who are vision impaired.

 

Ghotit Prediction settings

 

The Word Prediction options are numerous. It can now be run as a standalone window. New text (e.g. specific vocabulary or context-based text) can be learnt as users type new words. They can introduce unique words imported from a text file (e.g. text from a novel, worksheet, exam, book or user manual). 

The predicted text can be voiced using a male or female voice. The rate of speech set to accommodate hearing, auditory processing, or whether the words in the text are new to them. The story, essay or poem can be muted for privacy or to avoid embarrassment in the classroom, library or workplace. A ‘space’ can be entered after a word is selected, and phonetic or creative spelling can be turned on or off.

These functions provide for flexibility and are useful for people who may be able to recognise words as they are typed. Some users are unable to formulate or visualise words before they are entered as a whole word.

In the Learning tab, new words that might include proper nouns, places, people, curriculum or workplace specific words can be entered into the programs’ lexicon. Then they can be predicted accurately. It is a very simple dialogue window where a user adds a list of words. This is an essential inclusion as users can add new words, or frequently used words that are uncommon or rarely used.

Users can elect to have the new word spoken or voiced. Most importantly, words can be deleted as well if they are inappropriately entered, mistyped or misused. Students studying texts and novels can add the names of characters or place names. Words can be added from within Ghotit texts or from the text, .doc, .docx or .htm/.html files as lists of space-delimited words.

 

Topics settings

 

Author: In this dialogue box, I would like to see individual words added to Topics one at a time. The personal dictionary has this option in Learning, but I’d like to see it in this dialogue box as well as it might be “missed” by the user or educator. Words predicted are taken from the current dictionary, so I’d like to see words added to a glossary specific to a topic, so it appears in context.

It is also vital for including idiomatic speech, slang, words about cultural norms or customs and catering to language differences with the inclusion of Australian indigenous languages and terms as well as New Zealand Maori text and phrases.

In the latest version of Ghotit RW&R, the word prediction function can be used with any other window. It is not tied to the Ghotit Editing Window any more. Users now can have words predicted in any program or within web sites such a social media sites, PDFs, mind mapping tools, art and design programs or Google Docs.

This provides users with greater flexibility and competes favourably with competing products.

An old but still useful article on Word Prediction lists some other reasons as to why students might require and use word prediction. An excellent new resource has been published by Craig Mills from CALL Scotland and is a must -read.

Topics

Users, educators, therapists, advocates, tutors, trainers or parents can import or export topics.

The user can import a document that has words about a topic, a research paper, a novel or spelling words that are particular to a place, region or country.  Words can be added and most importantly, deleted. Users can create as many topic dictionaries, and multiple dictionaries can be loaded simultaneously.

Exams (New)

 

Exam settings

 

This new addition is a deal-breaker. Educators, examiners and trainers can include or exclude features that are either not required or are inadmissible in a text or exam. Text-to-speech, Word Prediction, spelling, grammar and punctuation features can be disabled temporarily. The student can still use Ghotit RW&R as their preferred writing tool but are not advantaged in any way. They can use coloured text and background, line spacing and their favourite font, style and height.  All features can be restored (or only some using the Floating” option (see below).

Floating

 

Floating settings

 

The Floating Toolbar is totally customisable. It can appear in small, medium or large physical size and can be positioned anywhere on the screen. It can be turned off and on. Features that are required can be activated one at a time if needed.

It is ideal in training sessions where students are exposed to one new feature at a time so there is less cognitive loading. At any time, a student can use features that pertain to their study requirements. The default is always available to return to a factory setting.

Main Window 

 

Main  window settings

 

The program’s main window can also be customised to suit an individual or group/class needs.

Features and buttons can be turned off until the main window appears as a simple text editor. This really appeals to users who have visual processing disorders or who prefer to activate features fro the floating toolbar.

Users with physical disabilities will delight in scanning across the Floating Toolbar with their modified trackball, tracker ball, and joystick or eye gaze system. They can choose the features that they require quickly as the floating toolbar can be made large in size for easy access.

Note: I’d love to see scanning introduced in future versions to accommodate switch users. I know that it is not the programmer’s intent to make switch capable software, but it precludes the thousands of users with physical needs.

Theme

The primary colour theme of the main window can be set to dark or light.

 

Theme settings

 

Author: In future versions, I’d enjoy the option of having “skins” to represent favourite colour combinations. It would appeal to sports fans. They could colour the main window with their favourite team colours or bands motifs.

Quick Editing Tools

A toddler/child touching keys on a laptop

Text correction shortcuts are available for quick and easy solutions. To have text voiced, users simply select a passage or page of text and press the F2 key. To have text transferred from MS Word to Ghotit RW&R, press the F6 key. The highlighted text in a user’s word processor, browser page or any other text-based application will transfer to the Ghotit RW&R window and be made ready for correction and editing. By clicking on each word, corrections can be performed.

Spelling grammar and punctuation errors can be corrected in this fashion. Choices can be voiced before committing to edit and replacement. These two shortcuts are easy to use and to remember.

In the Advanced Tab, the text font and size can be set as a default. This is important for sight-impaired people, younger students or those users who are older with impaired or diminished vision. Options can be set back to default settings in all functions.

 

Ghotit window showing colour bars and word prediction

 

The background colour can also be set. This is so important for people with visual fatigue, Meares Irlen Syndrome or for users working with screens frequently or for long periods. Also a spelling area colour can be selected so that words and text and visually differentiated from surrounding text. This caters to users who require text highlights and specific colouring.

Note: Preferences can be located under the Ghotit Real Writer and Reader menu at the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Besides Ghotit RW&R is straightforward, easy to learn, use and master. The program’s software corrects text analysing the components and structure of the sentence that the user is typing.

Examples of Spelling Corrections

See the Spelling Corrections page on the Ghotit website for real-life examples of typical dyslexic errors. English as a Second Language (ESL) models provide mixed tense and misuse of prepositions.

Ghotit RW&W is an ideal reading and writing tool for a diverse audience and is not just for students. It is available for students in training and at universities. 

Background to Ghotit Development

Programmers and developers, who have experienced dyslexia and therefore understand how debilitating, frustrating and confusing writing can be in their daily lives, founded Ghotit. ‘Ghotit’s mission is to improve the overall quality of life of a person with dyslexia. Ghotit is not a treatment for dyslexia.’ The owner of the company has dyslexia, and he and his team understand the ramifications of not having all of these facilities in a literacy support program that is so intuitive and easy to use.

The company really listens and acts upon constructive criticism. They quickly incorporate new features as deemed fit or add new technologies as they emerge (e.g. from Microsoft or Apple) or introduce elements from third-party developers. Every upgrade and new version usually offers some innovative technology that makes it now one of the three most preferred literacy-support tools on the market. On a cost basis alone, it compares very favourably against opposition software and is not even comparable to any freeware.

The writing and reading support will  assist users in helping overcome their writing and reading difficulties by converting their poorly spelt written attempts to mainstream English. Users with learning disabilities, including dyslexia and dysgraphia, are heavy users of spell checkers and rely on interventions to support them.

However, the majority of standard spell and grammar checkers address the needs of the general population who have below par spelling skills. Their spelling mistakes are mostly typing errors resulting in a spelling that shows high resemblance to the requested word. The spell check can also deal with approximated spelling, words that begin with a completely wrong starting letter or combination of letters (e.g. ‘eggaustion’ for ‘exhaustion’ or ‘foniks’ for ‘phonics’).

Advanced settings for text

These spell checkers produce unsatisfactory results for users who demonstrate poor English spelling such as people with dyslexia, due to the following factors:

  • The written word spelling is approximated and ‘too far’ from the correct spelling
  • No support for confused/out-of-context words – the written word is a real-word that is spelt correctly but is used in the wrong context
  • Minimal or no assistance provided to the user in selecting the correct candidate word
  • No text-to-speech option to check or verify the word with voiced output

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader software supports struggling writers, giving them the confidence to work with text on their computers. Independence is key. Users of all abilities need to be able to work with tools that provide them with capacities to document what they have created, researched, studied or learnt. They can cope independently with increased confidence with less support from teachers and support staff. Less reliance on peers, siblings and parents provides for increased self-esteem and a sense of satisfaction.

Total Cost of Ownership

The total cost of ownership is low, as there is less need for human intervention. The single licence can be legally installed on a home computer at one at school at a reduced cost of 50% for the second single-user licence. This gives a student 24/7 access to the appropriate tools that he or she requires. All of the licences are perennial and not a yearly prescription. It takes the worry out of dealing with budgets and finding funds to continually pay for software each year. Subscription software is costly over time, especially as the software has to be funded every year.

The Ghotit team has developed unique spelling algorithms that are at the core of the services Ghotit is preparing for the people with dyslexia or dysgraphia and other types of learning difficulties. The program has a great deal to offer users of all ages in helping to realise their potential and enjoy reading and writing tasks with increased confidence and autonomy.

It caters to children as well as to older users. A page on their website articulates the benefits and advantages of using the software. It is extremely beneficial for children at school or at home.

Note: The program does not require an active Internet connection (unless users are saving documents to a Google Drive) so this may be a bonus for some users who have poor service or who do not have reliable wireless access or slow download and upload speeds.

Technical Specifications

 

Ghotit word prediction

 

The program is purchased as a downloadable file in one complete payment or in a box from a local dealer or organisation (e.g. SPELD in Australia and a few other dealers including Spectronics in Queensland). It is available for MS Windows and MAC OS X. Installation and getting started is very straightforward.

The RAM memory required for Ghotit RW&R is 150MB without the Word-Prediction function and total hard disk space required is 1.3GB.

The Handy Floating Toolbar

 

Ghotit floating tool bar

 

Predict Anywhere – Being able to launch word-prediction is one of the newer features from the extended Floating Toolbar. Predict Anywhere opens a prediction window that can be deployed in any application. It is an excellent new addition.

Read Anywhere – This new button reads any selected text without having to copy it. The ability to have text-to-speech is possible on both MS Windows (Narrator) and is native to MAC OS X (Apple/System Preferences/Accessibility/Speech). The beauty of having a high-quality speech function means that people with print handicaps and struggling readers can access ANY text for leisure, study or research purposes, independently of school support staff, peers, siblings or family members. It performs immediately. It voices highlighted text in any document or web page quickly. All voices, dictionaries and spell checkers are launched on the program’s initial launch. This saves time later when writing. Other competitor’s load resources when requested; that stops “writing flow”.

ScreenShot Reader – This has been totally overhauled and enhanced. It recognises text embedded in graphics, photos, locked PDF documents and “pictures” of text on web sites (most notably in games). It operates more accurately now on low-resolution displays such as non-Retina screens.  Formerly the ScreenShot Reader struggled with many common low-resolution MS Windows screens. It is far more reliable. It voices the text from a locked PDF or photo or screen image. This could be the instruction in a game or a magic trick or a menu. The ‘text’ is just ‘graphics’ of text and is usually not accessible. A significant benefit is that it places the text into the Ghotit text window. It is fully editable text.

Settings Button – This button brings up immediate access to the Preferences dialogue box and by default shows the Speech option. Users can now change the voice, the rate of speech and both background and text highlight colours with just a few clicks. It is quick and convenient. They can alter any other of the preferences as deemed fit.

Bring Editor to Front – The second last option is simply to bring the Ghotit window “forwards’ or on top of other open windows. This is very especially for users with physical disabilities or for those people using eye-gaze technologies. It avoids the frustration of locating the Apple menu (on the MAC) and using Recent Items and trying to find the Ghotit WR&R program window. It proves to be very useful to get to focus the Real Writer and Reader window if concealed or minimized.

Minimize/Maximize button – This minimizes the Floating Toolbar when not in use. It toggles the floating toolbar to the full extent, then back to one green Ghotit icon – and then back again.

What Use Ghotit Real Writer and Reader?

Some younger students or children with SEN who require picture and symbols, enjoy working with programs such as Clicker 7 or TextEase Studio CT. For more capable students with dyslexia, Ghotit RW&R is commonly used as the student’s preferred word processor. Users copy their required text (with a mouse, trackball or using the F6 key) from programs such as Google Docs, Pages, OneNote, and Inspiration

Ghotit offers a bright clear, uncluttered interface with few buttons and icons (that can be turned off and on in any case) and is less threatening than MS Word (which is really designed for business and the workplace all said and done). Text is copied from MS Word by using copy/paste. Users can select up to 1000 words and pressing Fn-F6 keys or by using the ABC button of the Floating Toolbar.

Ghotit Real Writer & Reader is an integrated writing and reading software program. It cleverly combines several advanced inclusive technologies specifically created and designed for people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other learning disabilities and difficulties. It also applies to users learning English as a Second Language (ESL). Ghotit is useful and relevant for children at home or in school. It also caters to adults with dyslexia and dysgraphia and allows them to read, write and correct text in any application – independently. Therefore, it empowers children through to adults to confidently work with text for writing, study or research purposes, or just for fun. It builds skills, confidence and the ability to create or edit their own work accurately or in third party documents.

Main Features include:

Ghotit Quick Spell Word-Prediction is a state-of-art technology and is specially designed for writers with typing issues. People with dysgraphia often get frustrated as they need a product that helps them type their study notes, projects or assignments.

Users can access the program with

Click-n-type onscreen keyboard

The icons are large in the main editing window so targeting the buttons is easy, especially when the Floating Toolbar made larger. This accommodates users with low vision or using a programmable keyboard or eye gaze system.

Ghotit caters directly to phonetic or ‘creative writers’. It also accommodates students with physical disabilities, as words do not have to be fully completed. The user may employ the use of a conventional keyboard, enlarged or programmable external keyboard, onscreen or ‘virtual’ keyboard or eye gaze technology. Words are predicted in a list with accompanying Function key shortcuts by using just a few initial characters. The user can select a long, complicated, or difficult word quickly and efficiently, knowing that it is spelt correctly.

Word Prediction technology increases writing speed for many users who have great difficulty in attempting to type text and spell words. Ghotit successfully predicts intended words with instant correction of the first misspelt letters. It has powerful algorithms that check the context of the word in the sentence and displays a list of intended words, all with associated meanings. Users can elect to have each meaning read aloud or ‘spoken’. Each word that is defined, is voiced as well, along wit its meaning.

The student or writer may require text-to-speech support, as they may also be poor or struggling readers. The male or female voices are human quality, and the users can alter the rate (or speed) of speech to suit his or her preference or cater to the genre of the text. Users, of any age and ability, can choose their own written text and have it spoken aloud through speakers or a headset/headphones/earplugs at a fast rate.  Any difficult, new, foreign, or complicated text might be read back more slowly. Students now have a powerful choice, and educators should allow the rate of speech to be changed according to student preference or the context in which it is voiced and for what purpose. Every child is different! 

Ghotit Reading Technology makes any text document readable: users of all ages can hear text being read aloud in conjunction with dual colour highlighting, using a preferred voice (male or female) and at a specific rate (or speed). The user, parent or assistant can change voices and rate of speech at any time.

I particularly like the Ghotit Screenshot Reader feature that reads texts taken from images, photos, graphics, games, locked PDF files and other inaccessible documents or web pages. It will capture any text on screen and read it back to the user. Users can copy and paste the required text into other documents, or save it to the user’s Google Drive or Dropbox.
Reading text aloud works in place on the screen with yellow highlighting of the currently read word and this can be repeated. In parallel to reading, a copy of the recognised text is available for users from the Ghotit Writer window and could be further copied and pasted into another program.

Ghotit Real Writer & Reader integrates with most common Mac OS X applications (i.e. Pages, Microsoft Office, OneNote, Safari, Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs/Drive) for text correction and for reading text aloud.

The English language is a complex and difficult language to learn and master. As it has evolved over the centuries, it has many spelling irregularities and grammar rules, many of which are inconsistent and confuse students and adults alike.

Standard spell checkers do not usually cope with users who begin words by approximating the ‘sound’ by using usual combinations of letters. Some students find phonics challenging to master. Not all users who have dyslexia can learn to master phonics, so intervention programs are not always the answer. Some programs to help younger children master word skills include Word Shark 5, Reading Doctor, various free and commercial programs on the Reading Rockets site and the free online Spelling Bee and Spelling City sites.

Many people make spelling and grammar errors that regular spell checkers in other programs that cannot correct. Ghotit is a unique spelling and grammar checker that corrects severe spelling and problematic grammar errors. It performs these vital actions with ease and without an Internet connection. It is fully stand-alone. It has an intuitive interface and only four buttons are on the screen. It provides a floating toolbar that when used independently of the program, performs text-to-speech, reading back text with a handy Screen-Shot Reader.

Example of Ghotit’s spelling capabilities:

    Original Text: That whas scery. I can fell a shiver down may spiyn. Its getting liyt. I shud go to bed. I bet im gooing to have nitmers a bawt that. o well, just have to dellwith it. I cant get that thim song out ove my haed never going to whachhalloween movie a gen or its seqwels.

    Corrected Text: That was scary. I can feel a shiver down my spine. It’s getting late. I should go to bed. I bet I’m going to have nightmares about that. Oh well, just have to deal with it. I can’t get that theme song out of my head never going to watch Halloween movie again or its sequels. 

Self Learning Algorithms 

 

Learning settings

 

Ghotit technology leverages self-learning algorithms. Meaning that after the user writes and performs some corrections, the Ghotit engine can be re-rerun and provide even better results. Performance improves over time with continued usage as the Ghotit spell checker actually learns from the inputs provided by the user.

Split & Merge Words Correction

English can be a confusing language. Someone way back decided that “birthday” is one word, while “one day” are two words. For people with writing disabilities these words are always challenging. Ghotit has developed dedicated algorithms to recognise these cases and perform Split & Merge Words corrections.

Grammar Checker

Ghotit is not only a spell checker. It performs advanced grammar and punctuation corrections. The corrections are based on two main algorithms:

  • Straightforward grammar rules
  • Context based grammar analysis

Highlights

Many assignments require collection of information from different sources, making data available for performing a research or writing a paper. Ghotit Real Writer and Reader HIGHLIGHTS option, offers an easy way to collect text from different sources, and places it in a target document within the Ghotit editing window with added footnotes for each of the text sources.

In addition, using the HIGHLIGHTS option, sources for different topics may be sorted and saved, easily identified by a specific colour indicator. Up to four colours can be chosen to reflect content or themes. It is a great study and research tool. This method of information collection can help a user to write high quality assignments.

This set of tools is ideal when used in study groups. The collection of information is made easier for students who have poor study skills or who have executive functioning disorders. The tool is fantastic – for all students, trainees or researchers!

How does Ghotit RW&R Work?

Ghotit window showing colour bars and word prediction

The program uses highly developed algorithms to determine the spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in a sentence. The user can select from several English based dictionaries including Australian, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canadian, United States and South African.

By selecting or highlighting a word, phrase sentence or the entire text (e.g. Command-A or Ctrl-A on a Windows computer), the user can choose the ABC tick icon displayed on the left-hand-side of the screen. Ghotit software will analyse the text for errors and mistakes as well as missed words and incorrect punctuation.

Users may elect to write straight into the Ghotit window or cut and paste from third party text (e.g. an MS Word document or Google Doc, PDF, web site or note from Sonocent Audio NoteTaker). They might elect to highlight text from another source and use Fn-F6 to transfer the text into Ghotit as another option or by using the ABC button of the Floating Toolbar. The user can elect to press Fn-F2 keys to hear their highlighted text spoken aloud with dual highlighting. Yet, another option is to use the Reading button of the Floating Toolbar.

The software will clearly mark misspelt words, suspected confused words and grammar errors by the colours red, blue and green respectively. The user then simply clicks on an incorrect word. Ghotit RW&R will offer alternate word suggestions. To approve and apply the selected changes, the user must click on the Smiley Tick button. This will remove all colouring and markings in the document.

Text–To-Speech Support 

Ghotit in use showing floating tool bar

The program uses the system voice from the user’s Mac OS X or MS Window’s computer. The user selects a voice from a drop-down menu and then sets the rate of speech (i.e. from slow delivery to fast). Speech feedback can be turned on so that everything the writer types will be spoken back after a spacebar hit. The entire sentence will be spoken after a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark. Colours can be used judiciously to help users who have Meares-Irlen Syndrome or a visual acuity problem. By choosing to have the words in one colour (e.g. light green) and the background a darker colour (e.g. dark blue), this might be the ideal combination onscreen and on hard copy printouts. MIS affects many students and is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Note: Mac OS X computer users can avail themselves of numerous (up to 90) high quality voices – at no cost. They can freely download and experiment with a wider range of voices. When using different languages, go to this site for more English voices and other languages (http://osxdaily.com/2011/07/25/how-to-add-new-voices-to-mac-os-x/. e.g. Heather in Scotland). Users will need to change the keyboard layout to support the characters required for Languages Other Than English (LOTE).

To have text read aloud, the user highlights some text from the Ghotit window and clicks into the Speaker icon (top left of screen). Highlighted text is voiced using foreground and background highlighting. Clicking the speaker again will stop or pause the speech feedback. Therefore, speech can be toggled on and off at will.

Users can work with any word processor or web browser (off-line or online as with Google Docs) and copy/paste text that requires correction in the Ghotit window. Alternatively, Ghotit is a simple text editor (with all of the enabling access options available). The icons appear above the typing window in a horizontal toolbar.

The user can elect to create a new blank file and start from scratch or later cut and paste text from other third party sources (encyclopedias, web sites, PDFs, Google Docs, etc.). It can open text or HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) files. Most importantly, it can export files in formats including .doc (Ms Word), .docx (Ms Word 2008 or later), .pdf (Portable Document Format) and .odt (Open Office Org documents).

Below the main toolbar is the formatting toolbar. Text can be standard or bullet point (3 options) or ordered (4 options). The font and size can be selected as well as buttons for Bold Face, Italics, Left, Centre, Right and Full Justification.

These are followed by:

  • Add a new word to the dictionary,
  • The Preferences dialogue box
  • Screen Shot Reader that can capture and read aloud and text from anywhere on the screen
  • The icon to bring up a Best Practices and Tips User’s Guide in PDF format
  • And Save or Retrieve documents from the user’s Google Drive
  • The last icon is to sign out of Google Drive.

There are large, clearly drawn buttons to save the file, print it, export it into other file formats, undo and redo actions, cut, copy and paste text as well as a dictionary. 

Four Major On-Screen Buttons

There are four large buttons. On-screen in the left-hand side of the Ghotit Window is Read Aloud text. It will speak text from the beginning of the document or just text that the user has highlighted. Underneath it is Word Prediction.

On the right-hand side is the ABC icon where the user has selected text that requires checking for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Underneath the ABC button is the Tick button that accepts and approves the changes made to the text.

Four buttons makes for a simple yet intuitive and powerful interface. Learning and accessing the program, after the voices, the preferred regional English language and the dictionary are set up, is a breeze. It caters to users of all ages and abilities. The program takes about 30-40 seconds to launch but all resources are included rather than downloading only when requested. It saves interruptions and frustration for the user.

Users can add new words to the dictionary for use with Word Prediction. This is extremely useful for users who are typing in proper nouns, names of characters or places or unusual words, including slang or idiom. It also caters to students studying specific courses or areas of study or interest, characters from novels or names of prominent people. There are topic dictionaries where users can add a single word or a list of words in a file that can be imported quickly and easily.

Five computer users bumping fists together

Topic dictionaries can be ‘built’ then added or removed. If not required, users can wholly delete dictionaries. Users can hear all of the words in each dictionary. The program can be customised to meet the needs of an entire history or geography class. It can also be matched to accurately meet an individual’s needs. It is an excellent example of inclusive technology. The software conforms to the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

When using the word prediction, the user can select a word by pressing the corresponding Function key that is displayed to the left of the word or simply click on it. Users using eye gaze can dwell on the function key and thus enter the complete word without having to finish spelling out or typing long or complex words.

Another wonderful tool that is popular with many younger users now is Dictation in text based applications. Voice dictation (as opposed to voiced text) can be used very effectively in Ghotit’s editing window. People are accustomed to speaking into iPhones and iPads, and into other home-based devices and asking for directions, help and even advice!

The inbuilt Window’s dictation on a MS Windows’ device is useful and improving (albeit slowly) but is nowhere near as advanced as Dragon Naturally Speaking. It does serve a purpose for those users who can speak well and are articulate.

Computer headset

SIRI, on the other hand on the MAC, is constantly being refined. I use the inbuilt microphone on my desktop MAC OS and it worked very well. I then used a $300 desktop microphone and the result was excellent. Students will be able to use headsets in class that have unidirectional microphones so that they can dictate (or speak their text) as well as listen with privacy and less distractions and avoid background ‘busy’ classroom noise. It works similarly to SIRI; but it does not have editing commands. It could prove to be handy for some users.

Note: There are other Apps available for dictation including SIRI on Apple portable devices (iPad and iPhone). Users can link to https://www.ghotit.com for more information. 

Setting Up

Either install Ghotit Real Writer and Reader from the Internet or install it from the Ghotit CD. The installer will require an Internet connection only for the installation and to download the Best Practice’s User Guide or to save documents on Google Drive.

Download the .dmg (for MAC OS X) installation file then copy and paste the Ghotit App icon to the desktop. Then double click on it to launch. The set up wizard guides the installer through the process, with only a few steps required. This is where the user can determine and adjust the voice settings as well as the required English Dictionary. These settings can be modified at any time to meet the user’s changing needs.

Installation

The user will have to enter the username and password (all case sensitive) – supplied by Ghotit or their distributor/dealer. When successfully completed, "Welcome to Ghotit" appears. The next step is to configure the F-Keys, as these are handy short cuts used in the software.

The users launches Ghotit, clicks on the Apple icon, chooses System Preferences, then the Security and Privacy icon then the Privacy icon. Then the user selects Accessibility. If the dialogue box is locked (as it should be), untick it by providing the administration password. The user then selects the checkbox left to the Ghotit App to provide keyboard access so that the F-Keys are activated and integrated with other MAC applications.

Then the user needs to lock the dialogue box again, close System Preferences, close the Ghotit App and then restart Ghotit Real Writer and Reader and the user is ready to begin writing, editing and note taking.

Google Docs Dyslexia-Friendly Editor 

Google Docs is a powerful online tool. Unfortunately, people with dyslexia and dysgraphia have problems using it due to their reading and writing limitations and this can cause frustration. Ghotit Real Writer and Reader acts as a simple-to-use text editor which, integrated with Google Docs, solves their productivity problems.

Ghotit’s writing and reading inclusive technology including word prediction, text-to-speech including dual highlighting with human quality voices, context and phonetic spell checking, grammar and punctuation checking is able to be customised to fully meet an individual’s writing and reading needs. These capabilities are available both online and offline.

The software opens Google Docs documents inside the Ghotit Writer Editor, a simple to use editor with only main functions and big clear buttons, word-prediction option, text correction and in-place reading aloud with dual-highlighting colours. The person is supported with these enabling features compared to editing in Chrome, even with many other free plug-ins and add-ons available.

After editing, the file is automatically synchronised with Google Drive. If the connection is temporarily unavailable, the software will remind the user to synchronise it later. Multiple Google Drive accounts are used by signing-in and signing-out to/from an account. This enables the student at school or University/TAFE institute can work on the document when they get home. They are able to be independent at school or workplace and not rely on assistance as the software helps them correct their text wherever they are working. 

Licences

One aspect that delineates Ghotit Real Writer and Reader from some other products on the market is that when you pay for a licence, it is NOT a subscription. The user owns the program and can use it indefinitely. If a new version is released, the user has the option to update or buy the new version. Users often forget, cannot afford to subscription costs or schools and institutions do not adequately budget for the year’s new subscription cost.

Ghotit WR&R can be purchased in Australia from Spectronics in Australasia and from all of the SPELD web sites and other dealers (see the Ghotit web site for international dealers).

It is sold as a single licence AUD $420.00, the school/institute site licence for AUD $2,700 for up to 100 users (that is, AUD $21.70 a copy) or a home and school/institute licence for AUD $3000 for 100 users.

This is my recommendation for most large schools or universities. The student can therefore have it at school and at home, purchasing the second copy at half the price. Teachers can also install it to learn the software and become accustomed to using it.

A free 30-day trial is always available from the Ghotit website for either the MS Win version or that of the MAC OS 10 version.

A multi-site (i.e. a school that has more than one campus) for up to 100 users is AUD $3,830 and a multi-site and home licence as well as home use for up to 100 users is AUD $5,330.

Users in different countries can always go to the Ghotit website  for prices in their currencies as well as site licences.

Google Analytics

Some other leading literacy support software employs and actively uses Google Analytics. Check out the software you are using. Ghotit has a Zero Knowledge and Absolute Privacy policies, and this is so important for end users, particularly schools and tertiary institutions. Read more about Ghotit’s policy statement.

Specifications

  • Mac OS 10.10 up to 10.15 (Catalina) operating system and later on desktop, Air and Apple Books 
  • MS Windows OS 7 or higher with 4GB RAM recommended on desktops and Notebooks
  • Memory: 4GB is required with at least (although 8GB or more is recommended).
  • Local disk space required for the program is just over 1.3GB.
  • Note: One-time only connect to the Internet for the license activation.

This software review was written in September 2019 by Gerry Kennedy © running MAC OS 10.12.6 with 12GB RAM using MS Word 2008 and Ghotit Real Writer and Reader for Mac. The author acknowledges Ghotit for providing a copy for review purposes.

The review copy provided to me by Ghotit was trialed and documented on an iMac using MAC OS 10.12.6 published using MS Word 2008 and edited with Ghotit software as well as Grammarly. Other software used to trial Ghotit Real Writer and Reader included Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox web browsers, Google Docs, Google Slides, Notes, Calendar, Preview and Apache Open Office Org.

All graphics used in this article are Copyright to Ghotit Dyslexia Software™ and other graphics and screen dumps taken from Royalty Free graphics sites

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About Gerry Kennedy

Gerry began using using IT in Education in 1980 and started exploring Inclusive or Assistive Technologies in 1985. He has been IT coach and mentor at 4 special schools in Melbourne as well as teaching Junior Secondary Boys and at a Girl’s Secondary College. Gerry worked in the computer industry as well, including 3 years at Spectronics in the late 1990’s. He has worked since 2000 as an Independent Assistive Technology Consultant, presenter and trainer. He has specialised in the areas of special needs, rehabilitation and inclusive technology support in education and employment for over 32 years. He has worked with early years, primary and secondary schools, TAFE, lectured at Universities, advised hospitals and consulted for individual clients of all ages and abilities. Gerry worked for many years as a consultant for the TAC for clients with acquired brain injury.

He still frequently publishes articles and software reviews on numerous web sites, particularity on the Spectronic’s Blog. Gerry promotes leading practice in the implementation and deployment of innovative ICT and Inclusive Technology in education and training. He has consulted, trained and advised parents, speech pathologists, physical therapists, Visiting Teachers for the Education Department in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia and the 4 dioceses of the Catholic Education Office in Victoria as well as other education and therapy related organisations. He now enjoys writing articles about how best to utilise and harness the features and functions of mainstream and specialised software as well as assistive device implementation for people with different needs.

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