Spell Better - Literacy Support for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Low Vision

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
Spell Better - Literacy Support for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Low Vision App Poster Image
Solid writing aid requires more cash for features.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Word prediction attempts to predict the word being typed, can save time while writing. OpenDyslexic fonts and ability to change background color can help those with vision impairments or dyslexia. 

Ease of Play

Easy to use. Parents can change fonts and word prediction options, customize other tools within the app. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Sexual content and body parts aren't filtered, so kids can type and hear them.  

Language

Swear words aren't filtered, so kids can type inappropriate words and hear them spoken out loud. 

Consumerism

Multiple prompts are provided to upgrade to premium features.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Words related to drinking, drugs, and smoking aren't filtered, so kids can type and hear them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spell Better is an app that offers features of word prediction and reads sentences out loud, which can make the writing process easier. After a kid types a sentence, the app can read the content out loud while the text is highlighted to assist with reading. Users can customize their typed text with different fonts and font sizes. Parents will need to monitor content, since there are no filters and the app will read whatever is typed. The app is $9.99 but offers only basic features. Unfortunately, in order to copy, email, preview, or print, users will have to upgrade to the premium version, which is $14.99. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

The SPELL BETTER writing app offers kids an option to type words, sentences, and paragraphs as part of the writing process into a document on their iPad. They can hear words spoken out loud as they type them and see them highlighted. A word prediction box, with five word choice options, is above the keyboard to make typing easier for kids who struggle with spelling. Tapping a word in the boxes will easily insert it into the screen. A spelling checker is also available. If kids type inappropriate words, including swear words, they can hear them spoken out loud. Speaker options include US, UK, and Australian male and female voices. The speech rate can be changed from 0 to 10 to match a kid's comprehension level. In addition to OpenDyslexic and Lexie Readable fonts, which are designed to be easily read by kids with dyslexia and other learning issues, there are eight more fonts. Text background colors, including pale yellow or light gray, are available, which may also help kids who have vision difficulties. The standard QWERTY keyboard is included as an option, but another on-screen keyboard option has vowels contrasted in yellow from consonants that are featured in green. To enhance their work, kids can include pictures. To access all features of the app, which allow the user to email, copy the text, or turn the document they created into a PDF, parents have to pay an additional $5 to upgrade to the premium version. 

Is it any good?

This basic app can help kids who struggle with writing by offering them access to word prediction options and text-to-speech functions, but parents have to pay more for features they'll likely need. Kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities can use a special font that's easier to read, which may reduce their frustration in the writing process. However, for the $9.99 version, there's no way to email, copy, or print the text, which is a key feature for kids to be able to submit completed homework or documents to a teacher. It could be very frustrating for kids to complete work and not be able to send it where it needs to go without paying more money. While it may be a cost-effective way to determine if strategies like word prediction and special fonts could help a kid's performance, parents need to be aware that there are no filters -- so they're bound to hear the app using some potty language -- and it's necessary to upgrade to the premium version to really use all of the apps' functions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Spell Better is a resource to help kids participate in the writing and editing process. Try out the word prediction and text-to-speech functions. Does your kid think these features help to get through the writing process faster, with fewer errors and more details?

  • Typing can make it easier for kids to share work with teachers and peers, especially if they don't have legible handwriting. Practicing with the tool is best done well before a deadline for a graded report. What are some activities and strategies that will help kids put in the time they need to make sure they can use an app like this successfully and independently? 

App details

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