Saturday, 18 October 2014

Tools for assisting Students with Dyslexia and other print disabilities.

Tools for assisting Students with Dyslexia and other print disabilities.

It is helpful to empower students with print disabilities to learn to independantly alter digital text for easier reading, this may include programs that restructure sentences or paragraphs, spell and grammar checking, zooming and enhancement, tracking the text as your read it, alterting the background and colour of text, converting it to speech or allowing speech as an input into the creation of text.  

Customising the Operating System.

One of the first lessons that will empower our students with print disabilities is to learn to customise their Windows/Mac/iPad to assist them in accessing text-
customisations include
  • Adjusting Brightness
  • Inverting colours
  • Increasing the font size
  • Changing the font style (Arial)
  • Adjusting the contrast
  • Turning off animated and blinking objects
  • Listening to content read out loud (rather then reading it themselves)
  • Printing information onto coloured paper
  • Changing the spacing and page layout
  • Using inbuilt searches like spotlight or Start Button searching to find desired files and programs.

Instructive training modules will be up in the future for customising these popular operating systems.

iBooks for iPad-

any book in iBooks can be read aloud (using the voiceover feature), have the colours inverted or magnified to put less words on the page for easy reading- other features such as defining words and easily searchable text feature on iBooks, making it a simple and powerful ereader.

Read & Write Gold-  

Price: $600-700

A powerful and highly recommended piece of assistive software written specifically to assist students with print and learning difficulties, in reading, writing and studying- available for MAC and PC.

Noteworthy Features:

Reading assistance

  • Superior text-to-speech. Fully customisable, allows you to track speech as it’s read to you- works within popular software such as browsers, word processors and PDF readers.
  • Inbuilt OCR (Screenshot Reader). Allows you to draw a box over any text on the page and it will be read to you, or is able to be copy/pasted.
  • DAISY Reader- DAISY files are files created for ebook reading.
  • Screen Masking- Allows non-important, distracting elements of a page to be ‘masked’ or cut out to allow efficient and flowing concentration on text.
  • Powerful dictionaries that include a picture database so students can find appropriate words using pictures.
  • Speechmaker converts any text into an audiofile to be listened to at leisure on device of choice.
  • Pronunciation tutor- allows students to learn to pronounce words on the go (Australian voices are available!)
  • Translator- allows you to translate words to and from various languages, very useful for English Language learners!

Writing Assistance:
  • Spell Checker- Read and Write Gold spell checker is superior to inbuilt spell checkers in word processing applications because of it’s ability to break down and interpret mispelled words phonetically.
  • Word prediction- word prediction learns how a student types and will start to suggest words customised to the student’s individual level of literacy- this is useful for constructing sentences.
  • Word Wizard- assists students by giving them information and providing alternatives for words as well as more specific terms.
  • Sounds Like Feature- this feature automatically identifies words being used that ‘sound like’ other words and provides the student with alternatives to use such as ‘eye’ and ‘I’ , ‘witch’ and ‘which’or ‘threw’ and ‘through’.
  • Verb Checker can be used by students to correctly identify which tense they should be using by supplying them with a list of options.
  • Speech Input- powered by ‘Dragon Dictation’ engine, this feature allows a student to speak into a microphone and records text.
  • ‘Speak whilst you type’ Allows you to listen to words as you type them.

Studying and working assistance:
  • Calculator- the Read&Write Gold calculator differs from other software calculators in that it breaks down answers in the form of steps allowing a student to see, understand and present their working to the teacher.
  • Fact Finder- Allows a student to highlight a word and immediately go to an online resource giving them accessible information about the topic.
  • Fact Folder- Works with fact finder to store information gathered from various sources into a bibliography.
  • Fact Mapper- Allows students to represent and organise their facts into a mindmap.

  • Study Skills Highlighter-  Is very useful for categorising information using a highlighter tool with various colours- for example, a student could highlight their incorrect spelling words in red and then easily pull up a list of misspelled words for future review or highlight important information in a piece of text in order to create an easy to review summary.

Kidspiration and 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 with 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 create structured text around this information.

  • Jot ideas or knowledge into a mindmap using words or pictures and create relationships between ideas using arrows. (useful for teacher to a class or for individual students)
  • Once mindmap is completed it can be converted into a ready-made story/passage/essay that has been organised for you by the software using your relational directions.

Unreviewed gadgets and softwares lists  features apps for dyslexic students.


DD3.TV Dyslexia thinking positively

A podcast  series discussing dyslexia

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