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This product is not available from Spectronics.
Purchase directly from The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies in the USA.

Writing is undeniably an essential component of literacy instruction for students without disabilities. Without question it is a part of their daily instruction. In order for students with significant disabilities to develop as readers and writers, daily writing is equally, if not, more important. However, this becomes a challenge when most students with significant disabilities are unable to hold a traditional pencil. To address this challenge, the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill has developed a variety of “alternative pencils” for students with the most significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness.

All the alternative “pencils” have been designed for students who are unable to hold a traditional pencil or physically manipulate a keyboard. Instead, the alternative pencils tap into students’ other developing abilities. For example, the alphabet eye gaze frame may be helpful for students who are learning to eye gaze. The print flip chart or onscreen keyboards may be helpful for students who are learning to use switches. The Braille flip chart may be useful for students who are blind. These are just a few examples. For many of the pencils, perfect vision and/or hearing are not needed.

It is especially important to note that students DO NOT need to know how to independently read or spell words in order to use any of the alternative pencils. Alternative pencils should be used with students who have a range of understandings about writing, all the way from random, emergent “scribbling” to more conventional writing with recognisable words. Children without disabilities have hundreds of hours of drawing and scribbling to help them grow into more sophisticated writers. Over the past 4 years, the same type of development has been seen with students with the most significant disabilities when they are given the same opportunities with alternative pencils. Here are some of the things the Centre found about writing with students with significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness:

  • Pick an alternative pencil that has the most potential for students to easily use.
  • Students do not need to know their letters in order to write with an alternative pencil.
  • Students need access to the full alphabet in order to learn about the alphabet.
  • All students, regardless of their ability, learn about writing and alternative pencils, by writing.
  • There are no prerequisites to writing. Don’t wait! Students don’t need to be ready to write. No one is “too…anything” to begin writing with an alternative pencil.
  • Pick an alternative pencil and get started now!

The CD has been updated to include lots of new exciting pencils! The CD contains printable materials and instructions for making a variety of alternative pencil kits to promote students’ active engagement in early writing. Each alternative pencil has a guide of suggestions for use, including access instructions, specific activities, sample IEP goals and REAL student writing samples. Braille and finger spelling cheat sheets and IntelliTools utilities have also been included. Pencils with numbers have been added to support literacy and maths.


Colour Coded Eye Gaze Frames

Includes different eye gaze frame setups that use coloured cards, coloured letters, or black/white cards.

Colour Coded Eye Gaze Frame sample
Colour Coded Eye Gaze Frame sample

Upper Case Letters, Lower Case Letters and Numbers Versions of Each:

  • Coded by Colour with Coloured Cards
  • Coded by Colour with Coloured Letters
  • Coded by Position with Black and White Cards


Print Flip Charts

Includes different flip charts that have a range of high contrast coloured letters and backgrounds, including white letters on black background. Also includes supplemental flip charts with writing tool choices. A new number flip chart has been added to support literacy and maths!

Print Flip Chart sample
Print Flip Chart sample

Supplemental communication symbols and supplemental communication flip charts with choices of writing tools and colours
Supplemental communication symbols
Supplemental communication flip charts with choices of writing tools and colours

Upper Case Letters, Lower Case Letters and Numbers Versions of Each:

  • Plain with Black Letters with White Background
  • Black Letters with White-and-Blue Background
  • White Letters with Black Background
  • Yellow Letters and Red Background


Braille Alphabet Flip Chart

Includes directions for making supplemental tactual communication symbols


Supplemental Tactual Symbols for:


Custom Made Alphabet IntelliKeys Overlays for Tactualisation and/or Braille

Custom Made Alphabet IntelliKeys OverlaysOverlays can be tactualised and/or brailled. Includes overlays with different keyboard layouts and a range of high contrast coloured letters and backgrounds.

Upper Case Letters and Lower Case Letters Versions of Each:

  • Plain with Black Letters with White Background
  • Black Letters with White-and-Blue Background
  • White Letters with Black Background
  • Yellow Letters and Red Background


Switch Accessible Onscreen Alphabet Keyboards in IntelliTalk II/III

Various alphabet layouts including an electronic Print Alphabet Flip Chart

Onscreen keyboard sample
Onscreen keyboard sample

This product is not available from Spectronics.
Purchase directly from The Center for Literacy & Disability Studies in the USA.

Writing With Alternative Pencils is targeted at the following age ranges:

  • All Ages

Writing With Alternative Pencils is designed to foster development in the areas of:

  • Literacy
  • Switch use
  • Communication
  • Numeracy
  • Use of assistive technology
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