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Assistive Technology for Students Who Have Dyslexia

by Scott Forsythe


When choosing assistive technology, it is most important that it makes the child feel “cool”.  Students do not want to make it obvious that they need help.  If the assistive technology makes them feel bad about themselves, they won’t use it.  If it isn’t fun or easy for them, they will lose interest.  


Choose assistive technology based on your child’s interests and personality.  Also, don’t forget about the low-tech products that can be very helpful such as a positive, supportive environment, the use of tinted overlays or backgrounds, reading rulers, cleaner fonts and layouts, proper lighting (no fluorescent lights) and a comfortable setting free of distractions.


There are a multitude of products available that cover almost every need: text-to-speech, speech-to-text, organization, note-taking and more.  On this page are a few of the products we discussed at the conference.


Built-in accessibility features on browsers and operating systems:

  1. Google Chrome: Offers a variety of accessibility extensions and apps

  2. Firefox: Allows you to change fonts and colors on any website

  3. Windows 8: Contains a number of built-in assistive technologies.  Windows 9 is rumored to be coming this Fall, and it may contain more assistive technologies.

  4. Amazon: Kindles have the most user-friendly and powerful settings

  5. Apple iOS and Android: Offer accessibility features in Settings along with a multitude of apps


Livescribe Smartpen: Perfect for note-taking, the Livescribe pen contains an audio recorder to record your teacher’s voice, a camera to synchronize your written notes or drawings to the teacher’s lecture, and wi-fi that automatically uploads your notes to your computer. Livescribe users can now send their audio notes to TranscribeMe and get a full transcription delivered to their inbox or Evernote account. 


Google app suite: Google provides tons of free, useful resources.  If you have a Google account, you can use Gmail, an email system that contains text-to-speech, spell checkers, the ability to format your emails and a selection of other features.  You can also use Google Calendar, which is very helpful for people who struggle to stay organized.  Finally, you can use Google Drive.  Google Drive is a free document-sharing service that allows you to make changes at the same time as another user and see each other’s changes in real time.   Google has also developed Google Educator Groups,  which basically acts as a social network for educators. 

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/06/google-educator-groups-for-teachers.html


There are so many helpful products for students who have dyslexia, and new products are developed every day!  An Optical Character Reader disguised as a ring and text-to-speech apps for Google Glass are just a sample of what is to come in the near future.  To stay up-to-date on the latest technology and research developments, be sure to follow me on your favorite social network for news, information and reviews.


Thank you for attending!

Scott Forsythe

age 17, founder of the Dyslexic Kids Support Organization for Children and Teens with Dyslexia

Email: Dyslexic.Kids@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dyslexic.Kids

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dyslexic_Kids

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Tumblr: http://dyslexic-kids.tumblr.com/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/115569358902469429053/posts

Wordpress: http://dyslexickids.wordpress.com/






There are so many apps that are useful to students with dyslexia! There are text-to-speech apps like Dragon that will read text to you, in addition to built-in text-to-speech functionality on Windows, Android and Apple devices. Voxdox, for example, will allow you to snap a photo of any document in almost any language, and that document will be read to you. 


There are productivity apps like Evernote and Soundnote that help you take notes, especially when connected to your Livescribe pen or iPad. Several apps help you stay organized and on schedule.


There are specially formatted dictionary apps like American Wordspeller, a phonetic dictionary that allows you to type in the word the way it sounds. Type in "fone" and it will pull up the word "phone" for you. 


There are study aids like flashcard generators that allow you to create your own flashcards, and there are countless interactive books.


Below are links that discuss the multitude of apps that are helpful to students who have dyslexia. No matter what the need, there's an app for that!


It is important to note that not all of the items in this list will be mobile apps.  Some of them are programs for desktop and laptop computers as well, and some are even computer-exclusive.


Dragon Dictation (desktop and laptop) - http://www.nuance.com


Voice Dream Reader (iPad) - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voice-dream-reader-text-to/id496177674?mt=8


ModMath math app - http://www.modmath.com/


GoRead - http://goread.org/ or http://read2go.org/


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt e-textbook reader - http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/06/05/houghton-mifflin-harcourt-to-launch-etextbook-reader-app-for-windows-8-81.aspx


LibriVox audiobook library - https://librivox.org/


CO:Writer word prediction - http://donjohnston.com/cowriter/#.U5zDVZRdW-p


Prizmo OCR - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prizmo-scanning-ocr-speech/id366791896?mt=8


Adobe Voice - http://getvoice.adobe.com/


Bookshare: accessible eBooks - https://www.bookshare.org/


Ghotit - http://www.ghotit.com/


WordQ - http://www.goqsoftware.com/


Natural Reader - http://www.naturalreaders.com/


Evernote Digital Post-It Notes - http://mashable.com/2013/09/26/evernote-post-it/


InspirationSW organizer - http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/graphic-organizers


Draft:Builder - http://donjohnston.com/draftbuilder/#.U7civ41dW-o


Audio Notetaker - http://www.sonocent.com/en/the_software/audio_notetaker


Evernote for computers - http://evernote.com/evernote/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=tumblr


Kurzweil 3000 - http://www.kurzweiledu.com/products/k3000-win.html


Read:OutLoud - http://donjohnston.com/readoutloud/


Oyster: Offering Unlimited Books for $9.95 a Month - http://www.wired.com/design/2013/09/is-this-netflix-of-books-the-next-big-thing-in-publishing/?mbid=social11571274


Me Books - http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/14/me-books-brings-childrens-favorite-books-to-ipad-lets-you-be-the-narrator/


Computer screen tinting - http://ox.libguides.com/content.php?pid=496416&sid=4086134


Skype universal translator (not yet available) - http://mobile.geek.com/apps/253505-microsoft-emulates-star-trek-turns-skype-into-a-universal-translator


Google tools - http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/


Text-to-speech for computers (list) - http://www.howtogeek.com/125305/the-best-text-to-speech-tts-software-programs-and-online-tools/


Windows speech-to-text - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dictate-text-speech-recognition


Windows speech-to-text - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/text-to-speech-faq#1TC=windows-7


OS X speech-to-text - http://support.apple.com/kb/ht5449


OS X text-to-speech - http://support.apple.com/kb/PH11255


Best Dyslexia Apps - http://www.mariannesunderland.com/2013/01/best-dyslexia-apps-middle-school-high-school-and-beyond/


Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences - http://www.commonsensemedia.org/guide/special-needs


Back to School: Best Apps for Students - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2422483,00.asp


The 70 Best Apps For Teachers And Students - http://www.edudemic.com/70-best-apps-teachers-students/


21 best apps for college students - http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/08/bet-apps-college-students/index.htm


50 Best iPad Apps for Users with Reading Disabilities - http://www.teleread.com/education/50-best-ipad-apps-for-users-with-reading-disabilities/


40 Amazing iPad Apps for the Learning Disabled - http://disabilitynetwork.org/technology/40-amazing-ipad-apps-for-the-learning-disabled/#.UmerEvlthtA


Apps to Help Students With Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties - http://www.ncld.org/students-disabilities/assistive-technology-education/apps-students-ld-dyslexia-reading-difficulties


Top 200 (Free) in Education for iPad - http://appshopper.com/bestsellers/education/free/?device=ipad


Too many resources to choose from?  Check out TechMatrix.org, a database of 400 assistive technologies searchable by subject, grade level and IDEA disability category.


Would you like to “try before you buy”? Contact Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis to try assistive technologies in your home, school or business for 30 days at no charge across the state of Indiana. Easter Seals will also provide free product demonstrations and training.


Not sure what type of AT you need?  This is a list of the various types of assistive technology and an explanation of why they’re important.


Reading assistance (Optical character recognition, text-to-speech, formatting changes):  Often, students with dyslexia will struggle tremendously with reading comprehension because they are focusing so much on decoding the words.  Reading assistants help with that problem. 


Text-to-speech reads the document to the student.  Speech-to-text acts as a dictation service.  Optical character recognition software reads words that are in formats outside of the normal word processing files or websites, such as PDF files, product labels, etc. to the student. Reading assistants include the Harcourt e-textbook reader and computer screen tinting, some built-in operating system text-to-speech and speech-to-text, and the Prizmo app.


Note-taking (recordings, keyboard variations):  Many people with dyslexia struggle with getting all of the information down on paper during a class.  Note-taking technology can help students remember more of what they learn in a classroom, either by writing it down more quickly or making a recording of the teacher’s lectures. Note-taking technologies include Google Drive, LiveScribe, Evernote, and Draft:Builder.


Teaching apps (teach you to read, write, etc.):  Teaching apps are another way to present information.  Many people, including a large number of dyslexics, find it difficult to learn much from dry textbooks and lectures.  With apps, ebooks and similar technologies, the same information can be presented in a more engaging, hands-on way. Teaching apps include ModMath, LibriVox, and apps in several of the lists in previous pages.