Computer Science

Breaking Down the “Wall of Text” - Software Tool to Address Complex Assignments for Students with Attention Disorders

Document Type

Conference Paper


One undergraduate student’s strategy to deal with long assignment instructions is to black out all of the information that they deem to be unimportant in the text, allowing them to focus just on the “important” information. While this technique may work well on paper, it does not naturally transition into a digital format. The student in the example above also identifies as having an attention disorder. In this paper we introduce a Microsoft Word add-in that enables the user to black out selected text using a new menu. Participants used the new Microsoft Word add-in to mark up a sample assignment. They were then asked in a post questionnaire to provide feedback on their experience utilizing the tool. Separately, we also conducted a survey in which we asked undergraduate students about their current strategies to understand long assignment instructions and why those strategies work for them. We then discuss their responses and compare it to the results of the previously mentioned case study.

Publication Title

Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)

Publication Date



11573 LNCS

First Page


Last Page









accessibility, attention disorders, education tools, text understanding

APA Citation

Desrochers, B., Tuson, E., Rizvi, S. A. R., & Magee, J. (2019). Breaking Down the “Wall of Text”-Software tool to address complex assignments for students with attention disorders. In Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Multimodality and Assistive Environments: 13th International Conference, UAHCI 2019, Held as Part of the 21st HCI International Conference, HCII 2019, Orlando, FL, USA, July 26–31, 2019, Proceedings, Part II 21 (pp. 77-86). Springer International Publishing.