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Handheld Spellcheckers and Dictionaries

*Please note that handheld spellchecker and dictionary is the term used as an aid to support writing and spelling, whereas word identification aid is the term used when using the same device as an aid to support reading.

Handheld spellcheckers and dictionaries are easy to use, low cost assistive technology solutions that provide support for students who need writing support. Handheld spellcheckers and dictionaries can assist students in correcting misspelled words in written communication. When a student wants to write a word that they do not know how to spell, they can type an approximation of how the word is spelled into the device. A list of correctly spelled words that most closely approximate the misspelled word are displayed on the screen. The student must look down the list of words until the he sees the correct spelling of the word. If a student is unable to visually identify the correct word, then they can use the text-to-speech feedback to help locate the correctly spelled word in the correction list.

One handheld spellchecker and dictionary that is available for elementary school age students is the Children’s Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector (Franklin Electronic Publishers). It has 44,000 words. For older students, the Merriam-Webster Speaking Dictionary and Thesaurus (Franklin Electronic Publishers) has 120,000 words and the Speaking Language Master (Franklin Electronic Publishers) has 130,000 words. Each device is capable of speaking the word typed in and when used with headphones can provide the text-to-speech feedback to the user without any classroom disruption. All of the devices have additional features available such as a handwriting guide, confusables/homophones, word building activities and phonetic spell correctors that support both reading and writing skills. These devices are all from Franklin Electronic Publishers and can be purchased directly from Franklin or from numerous vendors.

The above mentioned devices all provide text-to-speech feedback. There are both speaking and non-speaking versions of most of the handheld spellcheckers and dictionaries. It is important to determine which device the student needs. Where the non-speaking handheld spellchecker and dictionary works fine for students who can visually discriminate which word they are trying to spell, it may be necessary for many students to use the speaking device. Many students require the text-to-speech feedback of hearing the word to determine whether it is the word they are seeking.

In order for handheld spell checkers and dictionaries to be effective tools for writing and spelling, students must be able to identify errors within their writing samples and then use the device to correct the misspelled words. Students with writing difficulties may require more sophisticated writing solutions.


 Resource Name

Web Address

Children's Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector

Merriam-Webster Speaking Dictionary and Thesaurus

Speaking Language Master



 Vendor Name

Web Address

Franklin Electronic Publishers