Install Herbi Writer
History and acknowledgements
In 2006 I was contacted by Susan Thompson, an occupational therapist who has worked with a number of students with different types of disabilities. Susan was looking for Tablet PC software which could help her students develop their handwriting skills. At the time there was no such software available, so based on what would be useful to Susan's students I built Herbi Writer. Thanks to Susan's expert input and feedback, I could focus on what was most important to the students. For example, providing some simple positive feedback when a student's letter was considered to be correct, and adding some element of a game to give the student something to work towards.
Susan provides workshops and consultations on developing fine motor skills and has worked with schools districts to implement her strategies in the classroom. To learn more about Susan's work, visit http://HandyLearning.com. Susan has had an article about Herbi Writer published in OT Advance magazine. (Read the article.)
Since then, a number of occupational therapists have started using Herbi Writer as a tool to help their students develop their handwriting skills. I'm very grateful to all the people who have contacted me letting me know that Herbi Writer is proving to be useful. I've received a number of requests for specific changes from occupational therapists to make Herbi Writer more useful in their situations, and where possible I've updated the software as requested.
I'm also very grateful to my friends Philip, Bogdan, and Rick who have added new features in response to the requests for changes to the software.
Thanks also to Fernando Machado, who provided the hundreds of translations that went into the Spanish version of Herbi Writer, and also gave advice on which letters should be included in the set of Spanish sample letters.
What does Herbi Writer do?
Herbi Writer shows sample letters to the student, and the student writes the letter on the computer screen. If the software considers the student's letter to be a match for the sample, positive feedback appears on the screen. You can have reinforcing phrases spoken by the computer too. A simple game can be played to see how many letters of the alphabet are correct when writing all the letters of alphabet.
To learn more about what the software can do, click How to use Herbi Writer.
To watch video demonstrations of Herbi Writer, click Herbi Writer demonstrations.
What computers can Herbi Writer work on?
Herbi Writer will work on any computer running the Windows XP or Windows Vista operating system. But it's not practical to develop handwriting skills using a computer mouse, so Herbi Writer is only useful when used on computers that have some sort of stylus to write with. Herbi Writer has been successfully used by occupational therapists with the following types of computer:
To see pictures of Herbi Writer running on these types of computers, click Computers running Herbi Writer.
Please note that with today's technology it can be very difficult to figure out what computer is most appropriate for your needs. These are some points you may want to consider:
Do you need a powerful mobile computer that you will use for many things other than Herbi Writer? If so, you may want to consider a laptop computer of a type where you can use a stylus on the screen for handwriting.
If your computer is only going to be used for Herbi Writer, then a less-expensive netbook computer might be a good choice.
Is the computer going to be used in a classroom environment? If so, a slightly tougher netbook (such as one based one the Intel Classmate PC) might be preferable.
Do you want to be able to change the desktop background picture, (to make the computer more appealing and personal to your students)? Many netbooks come with Windows 7 Starter edition, and that means the desktop picture can't be changed. So an upgrade to something like Windows 7 Home Premium might be useful.
Important! Many touch-enabled computers these days are designed for use with a finger and not with a stylus. So some computers can't be used with a stylus, or require a 3rd party product to enable stylus use. At the moment, I wouldn't consider using Herbi Writer at a computer that doesn't come with stylus.
Feedback from people who have tried Herbi Writer
If you're a parent looking for software to help improve your child's handwriting, you might be interested in this User feedback.
Do you need Herbi Writer to do something else?
Herbi Writer is always a work in progress. While it's helping students today, there's quite a list of things that it needs to do better, and new things that I'd like it to do. The changes I make to the software are all driven by the input I get from the occupational therapists, teachers, and parents who are using it. If you'd like to see some changes made, let me know and I'll try to update Herbi Writer to make it more useful for you.
Some of the things I'd like improve or add to Herbi Writer are listed at Herbi Writer next steps. Let me know which of these would be most useful to you and I'll try to get to it as soon as I can.