Handwriting characteristics among secondary students with and without physical disabilities: A study with a computerized tool

Wai Ping Cecilia Tsang, Ricky K.C. Au, Michelle H.Y. Chan, Lily W.L. Chan, Gloria M.T. Lau, T. K. Lo, Howard W.H. Leung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the handwriting characteristics of secondary school students with and without physical disabilities (PD). With the use of a computerized Chinese Handwriting Assessment Tool (CHAT), it was made possible to objectively assess and analyze in detail the handwriting characteristics of individual students. Fifty participants (age range: 15-19-years-old) were recruited from one mainstream secondary school and 20 participants (age range: 17-24-years-old) were recruited from two secondary schools for students with PD. They were asked to perform three consecutive handwriting tasks: copying 90 characters using the computerized CHAT, an English passage copying task, and a Chinese passage copying task. The data indicated that students with PD were significantly slower in copying both Chinese and English characters in passages when compared to the typical students. Significant differences in the measures of writing speed, air/ground time ratio, standard deviation of speed, standard deviation of size per character, and number of stroke errors measured by the CHAT were found between the two groups of students. Further analysis on the data of typical students indicated no significant difference in handwriting speed among students of different classes (i.e. arts or science) on copying Chinese and English passages, and on individual Chinese words (from CHAT). The academic results of students also showed no significant correlation with their handwriting speed measured by the three writing tasks. To conclude, the CHAT system was able to identify a number of characteristics of handwriting on students with and without PD. It was suggested that the CHAT should further be developed into an objective evaluation tool to explore the handwriting characteristics of the students with a wider range of disabilities in the future, and to make recommendations to arrange special examination arrangements (SEA) for students with physical disabilities or other special needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Computerized tool
  • Handwriting
  • Physical disabilities
  • Secondary students
  • Special examination arrangements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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