Saturday, 18 October 2014

Apps and Software for Students with Learning Difficulties

Apps and Software for Students with Learning Difficulties

The following Software has been suggested for testing to use with students with Learning Difficulties. Where the application has been specifically used or assessed by an myself, details of this assessment will be featured on the right. The following Categories for apps have been suggested; Organisation Software to assist students with learning difficulties organise dates and tasks. Note-taking and Mindmapping software to assist students creating and organising their ideas, Literacy Assistance Software to improve a student's access to Text and finally Study Aids to assist students in working with digital documents and to learn particular concepts and outcomes. 

  Organisational Software  Description   Resources and Reviews

istudies pro logo 
istudies Pro
price: $3.00

This is an organisational app that helps students organise their tasks.

Next Thing
Next Thing is a task manager and scheduling aid that's comparable to a “digital sticky note.”

Drop Box
iTunes link for Dropbox
Weblink for dropbox
This popular file-sharing software is a great organizational tool for keeping all of your files accessible no matter where you are! It interfaces well with multiple files including PDF, Pictures- even Zipped files!
Dropbox is currently used by many students in Catholic schools to assist with organisation and file management on their ipads. We have found this app to be powerful, simple and accessible. 


price: $10-20

This password manager and protector keeps track of student accounts and passwords and keeps them secure and organised.


   Price: Free

Conventional Paper Diaries, calendars and workbooks are by their nature difficult to access for students who experience difficulties accessing print- as such most students with print disabilities will benefit from the use of a notes program such as Evernote which will allow them to use a shared cloud computing diary and workbook for each subject accessible from any computer, phone, iPod or tablet.  These digital workbooks can have pictures, movies and text embedded and you can use text-to-speech and find features to access the them easily.

For a five dollar a month subscription students have unlimited storage for their evernote accounts- this will be useful for students who fill their accounts up quickly!

 iOs Calendar, Reminders and        Notes

   Price: Free and inbuilt with IOS device
Although Evernote is highly recommended for students, an alternative for those who do not have internet access regularly is to use the standard IOS Calendar, Reminders and Notes as a digital diary and workbook.
I use this with my blind and dyslexic students- integration with Siri is fantastic! 

Note Taking and mindmapping Software DescriptionResources and Reviews
 Kidspiration / Inspiration
Price- $80-90

Kidspiration and Inspiration are great tools for creating and interpreting and re-representing mindmaps- the former is aimed for use by primary school aged kids and the latter is designed to be used by Adults and Adolescents. Typically dyslexic people have trouble organising their ideas in a way that can be represented to others, this software aims to give dyslexic students a platform to easily organise and represent information and assists them to create structured text around this information.

InClass app picture
price: Free

This is another organisational app designed to help students keep track of their courses through more efficient note-taking. Combining video notes, audio notes and photo notes.

iThoughts is a mindmapping app to help students organise their thoughts. 


Corkulous™ idea board is the incredible new way to collect, organize, and share your ideas. See the demo video:
price: $4.99
Popplet is a platform for your ideas. Popplet's super simple interface allows you to move at the speed of your thoughts. With Popplet you can capture your ideas, sort them visually, and collaborate with others in realtime. Quickly and easily! 

 Literacy Assistance Software Description Resources and Reviews

Read and Write GoldPrice $699

ireadwrite for IOS (6.99)
read and write for Google Docs($30)

Texthelp offers a powerful suite of literacy apps for students with print disabilities. Features such as natural voices, moving highlights, collectable highlights and a range of dictionary, screenshot readers all characterise Texthelp's softwares for various platforms. The most fully fledged software is the package for the PC followed closely by the MAC package with the Google Docs and IOS packages typically containing less features. 
Read and Write Gold review here

iReadWrite for IOS review here

Read and Write for Google Docs review here

Various video tutorials and information on Read and Write Gold can be found here and also here.

 Dragon Naturally Speaking
Price $200

For Mac/PC
+ Also Dragon Dictation for IOS ($6.99)


Using speech to text can be a very useful way to create text, however efficacious use of text to speech does not come immediately and students will need to be explicitly taught how to use dragon dictation as well as given the time necessary to train their application to their particular voice. It is also less appropriate for students who have difficulty speaking clearly.

Dragon Dictation is Nuance's Dictation software for the iPad and it performs very well in optimal conditions. Unfortunately, unlike the computer-based version, Dragon Dictation processes the speech online rather than on the device itself so will not be usable without an unrestricted internet connection. As of the writing of this article- Dragon Dictation is known to be unusable within our CEO schools due to proxy restrictions. 

Nuance Dragon YouTube Videos

Dragon Naturally Speaking User Guide
 Voiceover on iOS with browser/ibooks

Price: free with iPad, the ibooks vary  in price

Students with print disabilities should set up and learn to use voiceover on their ipads so they are able to utilise the Apple's excellent text-to-speech engine when accessing print on the iPad, particularly when accessing ebooks or the internet.

Students can use the inbuilt dictionary on the iPad to listen to unfamiliar or difficult words and to listen to the definitions when they are unsure of the word meaning. 
 Apple voiceover tutorial

General information on using Apple technology to assist students with print disabilities, which includes this strategy
 Natural Reader

Price- $50
 Whilst Read & Write Gold is the deluxe comprehensive tool for kids with print disabilities, if you are just looking for cheap human sounding text-to-speech engine that will read text on a PC in Word, on the internet and virtually all other applications that use digital text then this is the one!
Natural Reader Tutorial
 Inbuilt MAC/OS features

Free with MAC O/S.

If your student is using a MAC there are a range of inbuilt features that will assist them such as speech, predictive text, sending text toiTunes as a spoken track to be played on an iPad etc.

Apple - Speech - Literacy

How to send text to iTunes as a spoken track. 

Study Aids Description Resources and Reviews
price: $4.99

 GoodReader has been praised for its annotating capabilities and quick pace when managing large PDF and TXT files, manuals and books. Its multi-tab option makes it easy to switch back and forth between documents when studying. GoodReader has a lot of buttons and is very powerful, it is more useful for older students who will not be phased by large menus filled with various buttons and features. 

Flashcards Deluxe
Flashcards Deluxe
price: $4.00
Flashcards Deluxe is an easy to use, yet powerful flashcard app which you can use to study just about anything you want, features up to five sided flashcards for learning.
iAnnotate PDF
 iAnnotate PDF is another PDF Annotator, but with a simpler User Interface then GoodReader- more suitable for younger users and those who would like a simpler more streamlined app. 
 PowerPoint / Keynote

 Students with problems accessing print are often not well served by conventional palm-cards or speech notes, instead teaching a student with literacy issues how to make and use a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation utilising pictures and keywords to jog their memory and keep the flow of their speech logically structured is very handy.

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