The Effectiveness of a Modified Typing Tutorial Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Research Article

Phys Med Rehabil Int. 2022; 9(1): 1196.

The Effectiveness of a Modified Typing Tutorial Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Thomas J*

Department of Occupational Therapy, State University of New York, Downstate Health Sciences University, NY, USA

*Corresponding author: Jasmin Thomas, Department of Occupational Therapy, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Received: February 24, 2022; Accepted: March 17, 2022; Published: March 24, 2022


People who have an intellectual disability (ID) often have difficulty learning to type using the traditional ten-finger approach. Typing is an essential skill for present social and educational relevance. The pilot program, ABC Typing Program (ABCTP) was developed and analyzed to determine if a modified typing tutorial program could be effective in teaching students with severe intellectual disabilities typing by eliminating the complex skills required for traditional typing. The effectiveness of ABCTP for increasing typing speed and accuracy was measured using a pretest-posttest design with eight high school students. A student questionnaire was used to determine participants’ satisfaction. The paired t-test analysis results indicated a significant improvement in typing speed. There was no significant improvement in typing accuracy. All participants responded with 100% satisfaction with the program. The findings suggest that ABCTP is effective to teach people with ID typing, an increasingly necessary skill for everyday life.

Keywords: Intellectual disability; ID; Students; Typing; Occupational therapy; Special education; Technology; Keyboarding; Computer


Typing skills have become increasingly essential in everyday life [1]. The traditional 10-finger system of typing on a QWERTY keyboard requires an extensive amount of cognitive abilities, motorlearning skills, visual-motor skills, motor-memory skills, dexterity, finger strength and manipulation, fine motor coordination/control, kinesthesia, endurance, concentration, and perseverance [2]. Due to the complex skills needed for traditional typing, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) tend to have difficulty learning traditional keyboarding skills [3,4].

Intellectual disability (ID) is defined by the World Organization [5] as a “significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information and to learn and apply new skills (impaired intelligence). This results in a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning), and begins before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development. The disability depends not only on a child’s conditions or impairments but also and crucially on the extent to which environmental factors support the child’s full participation and inclusion in society.” ID significantly limits a person’s ability to learn at an expected level and function in daily life. These challenges include the ability to learn, reason, problem solve, develop adaptive behavior, and engage in everyday life and social skills (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), [6]).

People with ID can learn necessary life skills, but often require support, assistive technology, and creative strategies to achieve these skills [7]. Relevant adaptations, modifications, and adjusted teaching approaches will enable people to have access to activities that are meaningful and satisfying, increase their independence, and productively function within society [8,9]. In order to maintain present/future social, educational, and vocational relevance, people with ID must learn basic technology and typing skills, which are essential for the home, school, and work environment [10,11].

Due to the challenges with learning and processing, people diagnosed with ID often have difficulty with the intricate skills needed for traditional typing. Cognitive, fine-motor, and visual- motor integration impairments, and decreased planning and execution of movements may impede their ability to learn and execute the multifaceted skills required for typing [2,12].


Research design

ABC typing program: ABC Typing Program (ABCTP) is a pilot typing tutorial program that eliminates the need for many higher-level motor and executive functioning skills required by the traditional 10-finger typing method on a QWERTY keyboard. It was created to reduce and compensate for the difficult and complex skills necessary for typing and to provide people with severe ID greater accessibility to technology.

ABCTP was designed for typists diagnosed with ID to use a unilateral or bilateral one to two finger approach to provide a clearer visual of the keyboard, which may increase their potential success rate. The program was designed to methodically provide repetitive practice of keyboarding skills. Repetition and practice are essential to increase the chances of a person with ID to learn and succeed [13]. ABCTP teaches one letter of the alphabet at a time in alphabetical order. For example, to teach the letter “e,” two rows of the letter “e” are typed by following the pattern: typing three “e’s,” pressing the spacebar one time, typing three “e’s,” pressing the spacebar one time… until the two rows are completed. The participants will then proceed to type words created by all previously learned letters (letters “a, b c, d, e”) to increase recall of letter positioning on the keyboard and for the opportunity to practice. Eventually, the complexity of the typing program was expanded from typing words to sentence, and to typing short paragraphs. Correlating homework assignments were given to the students to practice and review newly obtained skills at home.

The easiest solution to allow people with ID to gain sustainable access to technology is by using availability within current standard operating systems to create individualized alterations [14,15]. By only using a standard word processing system, any computer could be modified to compensate for the distinct needs of each participant. Some modifications used by ABCTP to aid in creating an optimal environment for success included changing the font, increasing the text size, using arrow keys to limit mouse use, and pacing the amount of typing practice. Since the program does not demand hardware or software alterations, such as changing the positions of keys, nor does it require the availability of the Internet, ABCTP can be accessed on any public computer for students to practice the correlating homework assignments without the need of additional changes or equipment to a computer.


The participants consisted of eight high school students (n= 8) with severe ID including three male students (37.5%) and five female students (62.5%) who attended a private special education high school in Brooklyn, New York. Enrollment into the high school required the students to be classified with severe ID, which included diagnosis such as down syndrome, learning disabled, and other impaired as identified on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) by the City of New York. The participants’ ages ranged from 15 to 21 years old, had varying socio-economic backgrounds, varying ethnic backgrounds, and they lived in three boroughs of New York City - Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn (Table 1). Inclusion criteria included students who received occupational therapy, had no former typing instructions prior to the study, easily recognized all the letters of the alphabet, and had access to a computer in their home or community.