Dyslexic Design exhibition

Dyslexic Design is an exhibit of work from dyslexic designers featured at the London gallery designjunction. Jim Rokos curated it in the hopes of getting other people to see what he already can: that people with dyslexia aren’t suffering from a so-called learning disability. Rather, they’re highly creative problem solvers who think in ways that make for killer designs. https://www.wired.com/2016/08/dyslexic-designers-just-think-different-maybe-even-better/#slide-1

Is homework necessary?

Is homework necessary? Is it better to have more hours of school and fewer hours of homework? “This principal has just announced that the school will be a homework-free zone for the next 10 months. The move is a counterintuitive one, to be sure; you’d think that giving kids more work would boost their grades. But a number of researchers say the reverse is true, especially for elementary schoolers. Sending young kids home with worksheets, projects, and reading assignments may actually make it harder for them to learn. (To a lesser extent, the same is true for middle schoolers, and some experts say even high schoolers should be doing far less.) It’s not as though the students are getting off easy. Homework is often used as a way to cover material that teachers missed in class and so…the new school day will run two hours longer than usual.”
Read more here:

10 Helpful Text-to-Speech Readers for Back to School

From University of Michigan: http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/software-assistive-technology/text-to-speech-readers

As school approaches, parents and students alike should be aware of the resources available to them as they prepare to tackle a new grade, new year, and new learning challenges. Text-to-speech software is often a vital resource for students with dyslexia—to aid reading, promote comprehension, and enhance overall literacy skills. Here are 10 helpful text-to-speech software and applications that are great assistive technology tools to have at the start of the school year.

For reading on your desktop computer or laptop

NaturalReader, self-proclaimed as the most powerful text-to-speech reader, can turn PDFs, web pages, e-books, and even printed material into spoken word. Available for both Mac and PCs, this software can convert and save any text-filled document into an audio file. Audio features such as speed and voice are adjustable, and once an audio file is saved it can be transferred to other devices, such as a cell phone, so the user has the file wherever he or she goes.

TalkButton, available for Macs and Microsoft Word, is text-to-speech software that can be controlled through a toolbar at the top of the computer screen. Text that is read out loud can be adjusted to slow down, speed up, paused, or replayed back a few seconds with the help of the accessibility toolbar. Audio files created from the text-to-speech software can be saved and downloaded to iTunes.

Browsealoud is a web page navigation software available for most versions of Windows that is designed to help those with dyslexia and second-language learners browse the internet. The software strips the web page down to its essential text so the user can focus on the text alone. Its text-to-speech feature also comes with a magnifying glass icon that follows the text as it is read aloud.

ReadSpeaker is a screen reader software for Mac or PC that allows documents, web pages, and e-books to be read aloud. The resource is entirely web-based, so users can access it from any internet-connected computer with their log-in information. Saved documents and images can be made accessible on any device, though. ReadSpeaker comes in a variety of packages to accommodate for individual, business, classroom, and student needs.

For reading on your tablet or phone

Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech assistive application for both Apple and Android devices that converts PDFs, web pages, Microsoft Word, and other document formats into spoken word, while also offering additional features such as bookmarking, note-taking, and a built-in dictionary.

KNFB Reader is a text-to-speech application that works solely off of pictures. Though originally designed with the purpose of aiding the visually impaired and blind, this program’s text-to-speech technology extracts the words found in an image and converts it to speech. Users can take pictures right from the app or use saved images from their device.

CapturaTalk offers text-to-speech assistance alongside many other reading and writing resources, making it a useful resource for tasks that require both reading, writing, and research. The app’s web browser removes ads and rearranges a site’s formatting to present the user with a decluttered and simple text page. The application also has a dyslexia friendly font that can be turned on or off. You can find this app at the AppStore and Google Play store.

Web Reader is an application for phone and tablet that offers text-to-speech assistance for online news sites, articles, and PDFs. This application lets you cut, copy, and paste content and arrange it into pages and sync content to programs like Dropbox. The app can navigate news websites, and lets the user switch and browse articles while having one article continuously read out loud to them.

Read&Write, created by the same company as Browsealoud, is available for tablet and Chrome browsers. This application has both text-to-speech and “Speak As I Type” abilities. Its alternative keyboard and features help users read and write common tablet tasks such as emailing, typing, and reading.

Clarospeak, a text-to-speech application for iPhone and Chrome browsers, offers a variety of text and format options. The user can copy and paste imported documents and web pages into Clarospeak to be read, and can also perform the reverse—write something in Clarospeak, have it read back to check for errors, and then export to files or an open browser.

Not for you, son

Not For You, Son

Not For You, Son

Sometimes I think about you walking along the halls of school, when you were 4 or 5 or 6. I think about the energy in your walk and the fun and bounce in your step—the abandon of a kid who’s unconcerned.

I can hear you laughing. I can hear you talking. There’s peace in your voice.

And I see you now, today. Eight-years-old. 2nd grade. And I wonder when it changed.

Your teacher called the other day and said “He’s a little combative. He doesn’t want to do anything. He’s resistant.” This was new.

I had never heard it before, but I knew.

My boy is heading down the path of almost every dyslexic kid that’s gone before him. He starts like the others. He charges preschool and kindergarten with the bravery and interest and curiosity of all the rest, but by 7 or 8 or 9 years old, after years of struggling with what seems to come naturally to the others, after years of holding his head up anyway and trying trying trying (without success), after days and days and days of walking around in his own little cloud—removed. Apart. Separate. He realizes this place is not for him. School is not for him.

The system is not for him.

So in a move of defense or self-preservation or maybe good ol’ fashioned pride, he lifts the proverbial middle finger to the whole bunch of ‘em and shouts between blonde ringlets and fear: “If you don’t want me, I don’t want you either.”

And the first brick in the wall is laid.

We’ve done everything we can. We’ve done everything we can to keep you strong and confident and whole. I homeschooled you for kindergarten when preschool gave you migraine headaches. I told the teachers constantly “I think he’s dyslexic. His dad and grandpa and great-grandpa are. He doesn’t seem to be learning letters or sounds.” I wanted to intervene early. They all said “It’s too early to tell.”

It wasn’t too early for me to tell, but they are the professionals. I deferred to them. I didn’t want to be that micro-manager mother. I let go and sat back and loved you and took you camping and let you climb trees and build things with Legos.

You told me you were “born with maps in your brain.” You built Lego structures meant for kids nearly twice your age, and you did it by just scanning the final pictures.

By the end of 1st grade they finally started suspecting, because you knew the names of three letters and the sounds of maybe two. I immediately had you tested. Dyslexia.

It wasn’t too early to tell, I guess.

So we began special education and I took you to the only independent program I could afford (and it helped, somewhat) and I began to see, quite clearly, how the rich have it better. The “best” program with the “best” success for dyslexic kids costs a minimum of $20,000. Did you catch that? $20,000.

I rely on free public education.

I thought things were getting better, but then I got the call from your teacher. I held you close to me and reassured you that I’m not angry and asked with all my heart “What is wrong, buddy. What’s up at school?”

And you told me. After a remarkable time spent pulling and prodding, you finally told me about all the times each day when you are not a part of because you can’t read. About the special game day on Friday you can’t play because they play a game that requires reading. About not wanting to ask what the board says (embarrassed). About how you don’t have any reading jobs and you want reading jobs because all the other kids have them.

It’s a strange moment when you realize the system is not for your child. It’s a strange moment when you realize that no matter how hard you try and no matter how hard the special education team is trying, school is structured in a way to benefit one type of child with one type of mind and one set of abilities.

I knew this intellectually. Now I know it in my soul.

I want to take him out forever. I want to let him build wooden things and climb trees and learn some other way. But I work, and my husband works, and I don’t know how to teach a dyslexic child to read, and I can’t afford the fancy schools.

So here I sit, the day before I send him back to a place that was never meant for him, while I find my new role as the fighter helicopter micro-manager mom, all up in everybody’s business, making sure his accommodations are met, making sure progress is occurring, doing our work at home, making sure my boy isn’t one more casualty, one more bright, capable mind slipped through the cracks, shoved off to become next year’s problem, passed on because nobody quite knows what to do. Everybody is trying, but the system is not meant for kids like him.

I think about you now, walking through your classroom, down the halls each morning. I think about you sitting there watching the teacher write on the board. Maybe the other kids start writing right away, answering her question, responding “as they should.” Maybe hands shoot in the air. And I wonder what you’re thinking in those moments.

Do you hear my voice? Do you laugh at your mother as she whispers “You are so smart, son.”

Do you blow me off? I’d probably blow me off.

Do my words seem small in the face of that moment? Do they collapse under the weight of your difference?

I imagine they do.

Your shoulders seem too small to bear all this, kid. And yet this fight is yours. Each day as you step foot on that campus, a place not quite meant for the likes of you, your creativity, the nature of your talents.

They love you. That is clear. They tell me on the daily.

But still I drive off in my car each morning and you walk bravely ahead, alone.

I see only your backpack and curls and bit of apprehension in your step. Sometimes you look back and wave, or smile, and I think to myself “Maybe he’s taking me with him.”

Or remembering, at least, for a moment, where he comes from.

Dyslexia Iceberg

As we head into the school year, keep in mind that dyslexia affects far more than the student’s ability to read. In my case, organization and time management have always been huge challenges!