Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Basic Spellchecker

A simpler way to simpler text?

In 2002 CARHDS signed an agreement to trial the Macquarie Dictionary Basic Spellchecker. The concept of the spellchecker was developed by Macquarie following a request from CARHDS Health Service Educator Brian Day, who had been looking for an easy way to produce plain English handouts and other training material.

Brian asked Macquarie to come up with a list of words that would be within the vocabulary of someone with about six years of mainstream schooling and to install them in a spellchecker in Microsoft Windows. The idea was that any words that the spellchecker indicated were an "error" would require the person typing the word to "reconsider" its suitability for the target learning group. Many of the learners in the CARHDS client group having English as a second, third or fourth language. Many do not have the advantage of having effectively completed more than the equivalent of about six years of mainstream English. The idea was to make text provided by CARHDS educators as user-friendly as possible to the widest group of readers.

Brian and a number of the other educators have been using the Basic Spellchecker for nearly two years. Brian in particular has found it a very useful tool. The spellchecker can be used in two main ways: in the "check-spelling-as-you-type" mode -where the author is "prompted" by error underlining as they write; or in the "spell-check-review" mode - where existing documents are re-spellchecked to assess their suitability for the client target group. The Basic Spellchecker can be turned on or off by clicking on an icon on the toolbar.

The next step is for CARHDS and Macquarie to attempt to form a relationship with Microsoft to overcome some of the technical installation issues still outstanding. It is hoped that there may be some monetary "spinoff" for CARHDS, but in any event the benefit for CARHDS authors has already been established.

Unfortunately, until the legal aspects are sorted out the software will not be available for others outside of CARHDS to use.

KIS = Keep It Simple!
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At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tanya, you haven't blogged for a long time. that is a shame as you talk or tell us about such interesting things!


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