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Low Tech Ways to Adapt Writing Tools for Students with Special Needs

Special Ed Resource Room

Low Tech Ways to Adapt Writing Tools for Students with Special Needs

Wow, my first week was crazy. Trying to figure out my schedule, my students’ schedules, adapting activities and classroom materials, and so much more made for an exhausting first week.

I am working on plans for next week and something that I need to figure out is how to get writing samples from students who do not yet have the fine motor skills to write like their typically developing peers.

Over the past few years, I had learned about a lot of no tech or low tech assistive technology devices that can help me with just this task.   

Pencil Adaptations

Low Tech Ways to Adapt Writing Tools for Students with Special NeedsSome of my students need something as simple as an adapted writing utensil. To accomplish this we use pencil grips, pencil weights, pencils stuck through a tennis ball, chalk holders, and even use Velcro to stick a writing utensil to a glove or mitt. You can also create your own customized pencil grip using Crayola Model magic. You can mold it to fit your student’s needs, when it dries it is really light, and the student can use markers or paint to color it.    

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Raised Lines  on Paper

Other students may need adapted paper with raised lines, bigger spaces or different color lines.  A great way to add raised lines to any paper is to use Wikki sticks or, more recently popular, Bendaroos. These are simply string covered different color wax to make sticks.  You can stick a Bendaroo to a piece of paper and you have instant raised lines.  These fantastic little sticks also have a bunch of other uses like circling or underlining words, outlining a space to color, or holding a student’s paper to their desk. 

Low Tech Ways to Adapt Writing Tools for Students with Special NeedsSlanted Writing Surfaces

Students may also benefit from having a slanted surface to write on. This can be accomplished by purchasing a slant board, although a less expensive option is to make your own homemade slant board.

Word Magnets & Classroom Computers

I also have students who are unable to maneuver a writing utensil the ways needed to write a letter let alone full words. These students will sometimes use premade words on magnets or index cards to manipulate and make into sentences. They also may use letter or word stamps to make their sentences. I will also work with the students on the classroom computer using word to type a simple sentence.  

Eye Gaze & Alphabet Flip Charts

Another option for students who may have complex physical needs is to use eye gaze and someone acting as a scribe to write their words and sentences. This can be accomplished by using an alphabet flip chart. The chart should have approximately 5 letters (more or less depending on the ability of the student) per page.  The student can use eye gaze to show the scribe what letter they would like or push a switch to say “flip the page please” until the letter that is needed is found.


What low tech assistive technology options do you use for writing? Share in the comments section!