Penfriend XP combines terrific performance with a range of well chosen features and surprising ease of use. The new version comes with great feature enhancements, higher performance and it is even easier to use. As with all Penfriend Ltd products, it brings dyslexic and physically disabled users benefits including:
- Confidence to write more
By predicting the right word before they have struggled with it, it encourages more adventurous writing and lets people put their thoughts on paper.Whereas a spelling checker spreads red ink on the page and reinforces ideas of error and fault, word prediction shows possible words which are correct and likely when the writer has only just begun to tell the computer about the word.
- Accuracy to write what they mean
By holding a dictionary of correctly spelt words, the writer can know that words shown on the list are appropriate (grammatically and orthographically). Smart punctuation makes sentences look right, and grammatical prediction helps put words in the right order.
- Speed to write more in the time available
Penfriend XP saves key-strokes by typing letters for you. This helps writers to get more on paper in the same time, and to write more before they get tired.
Penfriend word prediction software suggests words, as you type text into your preferred word processor or text editor.
Penfriend is very good at guessing the word you are typing after you have entered one or two initial letters. One key press, or one mouse click on your chosen word in the prediction window, then completes the word for you.
Penfriend will then go on to predict the next complete word you want to type and it is almost always very successful in doing so. It is in fact possible to write an entire document simply by clicking on Penfriend’s suggested words in the prediction window, after typing in only the first few letters.
Penfriend’s word prediction uses a dictionary of known words, along with detailed knowledge of when they are likely to be used and words you have used before. Every time you type a letter, it comes up with a new list of the most likely words which fit your letters. Choosing one is a simple matter of pressing one more button, or clicking on the word with the mouse. If you’re not sure how to read it, you can hear it spoken before you choose a word. This is valuable for those who have physical disabilities or dyslexia. But it will also help those wanting to write in a language that they are learning.
Minimising the predictor window switches off prediction and all the assistive functions in Penfriend. Useful if you want to type an email address without spaces after the full stop, or type numbers whilst predicting using number keys.
Penfriend XP comes with speech feedback; the ability to read aloud the words on your screen, including words that you haven’t written yet! Penfriend XP uses Microsoft SAPI5 to produce clear words, and to allow the installation of other ‘third party’ voices.
It can be configured to speak each letter as it is typed, each word as it is completed, and each sentence. It can read words from the prediction list when you point at them, when you choose them, or automatically when they change. It can also read back whole paragraphs (or more) of text from other applications using the clipboard. This might be your document, a web page, an email, or almost anything else.
While speaking text from the clipboard, a window can be shown which follows the voice, highlighting each word as it goes. You can click on a word to hear it again, or to speak a fragment of the text.
For people either with physical disabilities affecting their use of a keyboard, or for those who do not want to glance repeatedly between the screen and keyboard, Penfriend XP offers an onscreen keyboard. Its straightforward design mirrors key features of a conventional QWERTY keyboard, and it uses colours of the user’s choice.
For people with a more specialised onscreen keyboard, Penfriend XP can work with Clicker to predict with custom-designed onscreen keyboards which support switch access.
Penfriend doesn’t claim to know all the words you want to write in advance, but it is very good at learning them. Every word you type is analysed, and Penfriend can learn those it doesn’t recognise. Depending on your spelling, you might ask for new words to be predicted immediately (as appropriate), or perhaps just to be remembered and then checked by a teacher.
Another feature is the ability to ban words. Thus risqué words, or words that a child should be able to spell can be banned, so that they are never predicted.
Penfriend holds new words in a specially marked list, so that you can easily review the ones it has learnt recently. There are various tools for manipulating these, such as approving only those used several times. This is also a useful tool for a teacher to see the spelling errors that a child is making.
As well as learning new words, Penfriend keeps track of the ones you’ve used, and your style of writing. This all helps to predict the right words next time!
Often you want specific vocabulary for a particular topic. One of the major advantages of Penfriend is that it is very easy to teach it new words either from the clipboard or a text file. Thus if you have a document with the words you want to use in it, it takes seconds to teach the program these words. They can then either be kept for the future or used for that one session. It is your choice.
Integration with Clicker
As well as predicting words directly into your word processor, Penfriend can work with Clicker, from Crick Software and other applications to provide its prediction engine without the user needing to interact with Penfriend directly. It also provides an excellent way of making Penfriend switch accessible.
To use with Clicker you will need Penfriend XP version 3.1 or later.
When you finish a sentence, or use almost any punctuation mark, Penfriend can help you to get it right. Although it normally puts a space after predicted words, it moves that to after the punctuation, and capitalises your next letter. Little things like this give writers the confidence to put their thoughts on paper.
Smart punctuation is a nuisance if you want to type an email address without spaces after a full stop. It can be simply switched off by minimising the predictor window.
An abbreviation expansion system which reconstructs full words or sentences from abbreviated typed text can be a very important benefit to people who suffer from motor difficulties or dyslexia. Reliable abbreviation expansion reduces the number of keystrokes that users need to input in order to communicate in full and rich language
Penfriend makes its options easy to understand. There are enough to give you the choices you need for the people you work with, but each makes sense, giving you flexibility and comprehension.