5 Ways Assistive Technology Can Help Dyslexic Students in the Classroom
Picture this: 8th Grader, Lucas is sat in his English class; everyone is taking down notes from the board and the extra pearls of wisdom from his teacher. The bell will ring any minute now, and he’s working at break-neck speed to get everything down. Meanwhile, his non-dyslexic classmates leisurely jot points down without breaking a sweat.
*School bell rings* (sighs in relief) Lucas had finished his notes, but after glancing back over them, all that extra stress and effort seems a waste to him now, because he can’t understand a word he’s written.
Does this look or sound familiar?
Over 40 million Americans have dyslexia, but only 2 million children receive special education services to help them cope with everyday learning challenges such as, reading and writing (ldonline).
The high levels of undetected learning difficulties within school systems means millions of kids struggling, when they don’t have to.
Since 1996, we’ve made it our mission to provide assistive technology and tools to nurture the educational development of those with learning difficulties.
We help teachers to unleash their student’s smarts and creativity in a way that works for them.
Here’s how the right technology can help those with learning difficulties in and outside the classroom:
When reading a book or researching for an assignment, dyslexic individuals often need a teacher to read to them, causing embarrassment and problems with focusing.
With the technology of text to speech, text on a screen of a computer or tablet can be read by the program to the individual in an environment they are comfortable in, or via headphones in more public settings, such as the school library when studying.
Text-to-speech also helps with word prediction and dictation, which can help when working through challenges with spelling and reading aloud.
We’re all familiar with how quick and easy voice notes are to use when we want to express something that would take too long to text. If we are receiving a voice note, it can be paused, re-winded and replayed at our own leisure and responded to when we feel ready.
What if we applied this same logic to the classroom? Think about how much easier it would be for students to know they have the information from their lesson, without second-guessing themselves?
One of the main difficulties those with ADD/ADHD and dyslexia struggle with is working memory issues. This is where short-term memory is affected, causing issues with teachers – who may feel their instructions are being ignored, particularly when taking notes.
Voice recording and notes eliminate this problem and note-taking can be completed without frustration, confusion and rushing before being forgotten.
Voice notes can also be used for teachers to provide feedback on work progress to help guide those with learning difficulties in the right direction or for students to ask questions they may have been embarrassed to ask in the classroom setting.
If we compared text formats on the cell phones of younger users vs older users, we are likely to see the following:
- Smaller text and a ‘dimmed’ screen on the younger person’s cell phone
- Larger text and brighter screens on the older person's cell phone.
Why is this?
As we get older, our eyesight changes and generally, larger, brighter texts are easier to read.
However, people who suffer from dyslexia often struggle processing lettering with bright/light backgrounds and large character spacing as it can resemble a ‘river’ pattern in between the characters, making it difficult to focus and read.
By inverting screen backlights from white to black, for example, many dyslexics find this easier to read and follow, which is why access to digital tools can be helpful in lessons.
This type of software covers a wide range of tools – from allowing users to digitally draw notes to better explain a concept or idea for more creative thinkers, to being a complete storage system for all digital documents that can be found in an instant.
Organizing is another challenge dyslexics are faced with – having creative minds can be difficult to categorize and teamed with possible working memory problems, remembering where projects and papers have been stored can cause frustration and overwhelm.
Having software at the touch of their fingertips that stores and organizes papers and projects in a cloud-based storage system will help:
• Reduce the likelihood of late submissions/re-starting assignments due to mislaid papers
• Dyslexic individuals show their creative process better which can help in a group project setting when paired with non-dyslexic peers.
Now that we have more insight into some of the problems dyslexic individuals like Lucas may be facing day-in-day-out, imagine:
If Lucas had been allowed to use a school-issued/certified tablet or laptop with all this helpful software on it?
Lucas would have the correct tools to take an image of the board and a voice note from his lesson, which he could convert into notes in his own time. He could share this with his teacher who could have provided constructive feedback to keep him on track.
Lucas could have used text-to-speech when studying in the library without needing assistance, helping him to build his confidence, pronunciation, and spelling.
And lastly, Lucas could have kept all his files safe and organized in an easily accessed cloud storage system.
We can turn these 'could haves' into ‘cans’ with the help of our software tools like Read&Write (free for teachers) and OrbitNote.
With our help, you can teach your students to work in a way that is understood by everyone and helps them fulfil their true potential.
Helps millions of students and adults worldwide to read, write and express themselves independently.