Willingness to use assistive tech

It’s the last day of Tech Week. We’ve talked about online games designed for students with dyslexia, text-to-speech software, apps, eReaders, and more. One thing we didn’t talk about is a student’s willingness to use assistive technology. Will the use of assistive technology make the child feel that his learning difference is now more obvious to everyone around him? Does it make her feel “cool” to use it? Or does it make her feel like an oddball?

School can be a difficult community in which to live. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to “fit in”. Being different can make you a target for bullies or at least cause you to be ostracized. Teachers, administrators, tutors and family members can unwittingly feed those negative feelings by clinging to tradition and having an unwillingness to embrace new technologies or teaching methods. “This is the way we’ve always done it” implies that anything different is wrong.

It may not be fair to have such an environment, and it is something that needs to change, but in the meantime, the students have to live in that environment. We need to make those hours as bearable as possible for the students. When choosing an assistive technology, make certain that your child is proud to use it. If it causes your child embarrassment, your child will not use it. In fact, it may even damage your child’s self-esteem.

The assistive technology that you choose must also be acceptable to the teachers. Some of my teachers frown upon using anything other than a pen and paper in class. That’s when my smartpen comes in handy. The pen blends in with all of the other writing utensils in class. No one notices that it is a very powerful assistive technology. It’s just a pen.

When choosing an assistive technology, look beyond the reviews and specifications. Ask your child how he or she will feel when using that technology in front of his or her classmates.


Assistive technology you can access from your computer

Assistive technology you can access from your computer

Today we’ll be talking about assistive technology that you can use on your computer or access from your computer. There are online games designed for students with dyslexia, several text-to-speech programs from which to choose, and more. Do you have a favorite? Mention it in the comments below.

Ghotit Real Writer & Reader software is a writing and reading assistant designed for people with dyslexia. It contains a phonetic and context spell checker, grammar checker, punctuation checker and text-to-speech. http://www.ghotit.com/

Read&Write Gold helps students with dyslexia read and write with a powerful grammar and spell checker and screenshot reader, and it has a speak-while-typing feature. http://www.texthelp.com/UK

Dragon speech recognition software is very popular, but some complain about the computer software’s learning curve. The app, on the other hand, is very fast and easy to use. http://www.nuance.com/dragon/accessibility/dragon-dyslexia-learning-challenges/index.htm

Claro text-to-speech programs include screen rulers, magnifiers and color overlays, and can be carried on a USB for portability. http://www.clarosoftware.com/latest_news.php?id=29

Wynn scanning and reading software uses optical character recognition to read scanned documents, websites, and .pdf files to you while highlighting the words. http://www.freedomscientific.com/lsg/products/wynn.asp

Additional links:

Links to free software: http://www.dyslexia.com/helpread.htm

Games that help teach students with dyslexia: http://www.dyslexiclikeme.org/products/%E2%80%A2-software/

More games for students with dyslexia: http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/fun-games-for-dyslexics

Resources to support dyslexic pupils: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/schools-colleges-and-universities/resources-to-support-dyslexic-pupils.html

British Dyslexia Association Technologies (links on right side of page): http://bdatech.org/

Language Tune-Up Kit uses a prerecorded human
voice to develop reading skills using Orton-Gillingham’s phonics method. http://www.jwor.com/

ReadOn text-to-speech software: http://www.readonsoftware.com/

TextAloud 3 text-to-speech software that converts your text from Word Documents, emails, web pages and .pdf files into natural-sounding speech: http://nextup.com/

Crick reading and writing software for young learners with dyslexia: http://www.cricksoft.com/us/special-needs/Dyslexia.aspx

Lexia Reading Core 5: http://www.lexialearning.com/product/core5

BeeLine Reader – uses a color gradient that is intended to help guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next: http://www.beelinereader.com/

There’s an App for That!

There's an App for That!

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 created 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!

Do you have a favorite app? Post it in the comments and tell us about it!

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

Best Dyslexia Apps – Middle School, High School and Beyond – http://www.mariannesunderland.com/2013/01/best-dyslexia-apps-middle-school-high-school-and-beyond/

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

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 Brings Children’s Favorite Books To iPad, Lets You Be The Narrator – http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/14/me-books-brings-childrens-favorite-books-to-ipad-lets-you-be-the-narrator/

Evernote and 3M Digitize the Post-It Note – http://mashable.com/2013/09/26/evernote-post-it/

The Beginner’s Guide to Evernote – http://mashable.com/2013/07/03/evernote-beginners/

The Catalyst project

The Catalyst project

Do you think a computer, text-to-speech software, iPad, smartpen or other assistive device might help your child, but you want to know for certain before you spend the money? You can! There is a federal program that provides free device lending libraries, free delivery and training on those devices, and a loan program if you decide you want to purchase a device.

Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana, for example, will bring a selection of devices to your home, demonstrate their capabilities, train you to use them, allow you to keep them for 30 days or more, and help you obtain a low-interest loan to purchase a device.

To find a similar program in your area, go to: