The best assistive technology for dyslexics

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    The best assistive technology for people with dyslexia includes text to speech software, reading guides, and more. Read on for more details.

    The best assistive technology for dyslexics

    Dyslexia is a learning disability that impacts a person’s reading skills. People with dyslexia have difficulty decoding or identifying sounds of speech and how these sounds connect to words and letters. This article explains assistive technology tools to help struggling readers and learners lead more independent and productive lives.

    The best assistive technology for dyslexic people

    In an increasingly digital world, assistive technology has emerged as a powerful ally for individuals with dyslexia, providing innovative solutions to help overcome the unique challenges they face in reading, writing, and comprehension. From innovative apps and software to specialized e-readers and communication aids, we uncover the best assistive technologies that are making a profound difference in the lives of those with dyslexia, fostering greater accessibility, independence, and academic achievement.

    Audio recorders

    Audio recorders or digital recorders help dyslexic people take notes during meetings or classes. People with dyslexia can overcome the impairment of slow writing by using a device that records speech. These devices can also be helpful for a dyslexic person who wishes to record their thoughts for later review.

    Many dictaphones pair with speech to text software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking for efficient transcription of the recorded text. Popular audio recorder tools and devices include AudioNote, LiveScribe Smartpen, Neo Pen, and Audio Notetaker.

    Graphic organizers

    Learners with dyslexia often have difficulty organizing and planning their essays, stories, and large assignments. Graphic organizers or concept maps use visual symbols and text boxes to help users express thoughts, ideas, concepts, and knowledge. Graphic organizers also pinpoint the relationships between elements.

    Popular tools include Kidspiration for K-5 learners, Connected Mind for drawing mind maps, Inspiration for brainstorming ideas, and XMind for mind mapping with pictures and other attachments.

    Reading guides and color overlays

    Dyslexic learners can be overwhelmed by pages of lengthy text. They have difficulty maintaining their focus and visually tracking the text. Also, the white and black combination of colors doesn’t work well for some. Reading guides and color overlays are useful features to overcome difficulties related to dyslexia.

    Popular software and devices include Beeline Reader, a free web tool to speed up reading time, and tinted glasses or lenses for a comfortable contrast. Color overlays (DIY versions available) that change the background color of the text are also commonly used.

    Note-taking apps

    Note-taking can be a challenge for students with dyslexia. The process requires the learner to listen, process the speech, and write notes simultaneously. The task is often overwhelming, even for students who don’t have dyslexia.

    Fortunately, note-taking apps can help speed up the process. Solutions such as Evernote, Sonocent, Smartpen, and NoteTalker offer a combination of audio recording and note-taking tools the students can organize, replay, highlight, bookmark, organize headings, and more.

    Word prediction apps and spell checks

    Spelling is often the most difficult language skill to master for dyslexic learners. Struggling readers also have issues with word finding. Software like word predictors and spell checkers help overcome these difficulties.

    Word prediction apps suggest words the learner will likely use next based on the content they typed earlier. Spell checkers correct spelling mistakes. With these tools, learners can focus on expressing their minds rather than stressing over the spelling of a word.

    Popular word prediction apps include Read&Write for iPad, ClaroRead, and Co:Writer Universal and spell checkers that can help with dyslexia include Grammarly, VeritySpell, and Read & Write.

    Optical character recognition (OCR) scanners

    Optical character recognition technology uses deep learning and AI to recognize text from printed books, street signs, or other physical text. OCR scanners can transform any text into a digital audio or text file.

    These files can later be used to highlight the content, turn it into speech, change its colors and font, add a background color, and more. Students often use OCR tools to help transfer their notes to a computer without having to type every word. Google Docs, Office Lens, and Online OCR are some of the best free OCR tools for students with dyslexia.

    Speech to text tools

    Speech to text uses voice recognition and speech recognition technology to translate spoken words and sentences into text. Dyslexic students or writers can use speech to text tools to express their thoughts and ideas on paper without feeling overwhelmed by spelling. Speech to text is an empowering tool, especially for young people struggling to write simple words.

    Co:Writer Universal is a great speech to text tool and one of the favorites for people with dyslexia. Other popular software includes TalkTyper, Mac Dictation, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

    Text to speech tools

    Text to speech (TTS) technology can be a significant game-changer for individuals with dyslexia. These programs allow written text to be transformed into spoken words, effectively bypassing some of the decoding and comprehension challenges dyslexics often face when reading. TTS software, such as Speechify or NaturalReader, offers a wide range of voices and languages, making content more accessible and enjoyable to consume. These programs often also include features like changing reading speed and highlighting words as they’re read, which further supports comprehension and engagement.

    Apple or Android device settings

    Apple and Android mobile devices both have built-in accessibility features specifically designed to aid those with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. These features include text to speech and speech to text functionality, which can help those with dyslexia read and write more easily. Moreover, these devices also offer options for changing the background color, increasing contrast, and enlarging text, which can improve readability for individuals with dyslexia. Additionally, options to turn on spelling suggestions or predictive text can further support their writing abilities.

    Digital scanning pens

    Digital scanning pens, such as the C-Pen Reader, Scanmarker Air, or Ectaco C-Pen, offer a handheld portable device that scans and reads text aloud, which can be an enormous help for individuals with dyslexia. These pens allow users to move the device over a line of text, and the device then converts the scanned text into speech. This immediate auditory feedback helps dyslexic individuals understand written content better. Plus, most of these devices have built-in dictionaries and are capable of storing scanned text for future reference.

    Math solver programs

    Dyslexia can often impact an individual’s ability to process and understand mathematical problems, especially when those problems are presented as word problems. Microsoft Math Solver is a tool that can assist by allowing the user to input a math problem, and the app will provide step-by-step guidance on how to solve it. This kind of tool can break down complex mathematical concepts into easier, more digestible parts, which can be extremely beneficial for dyslexic individuals.

    Dyslexic fonts

    OpenDyslexic is a free font that has been designed specifically for people with dyslexia. It is installed as an extension on the Chrome web browser and alters the font on web pages to the OpenDyslexic font. This font is designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia, as it increases the weight of the text at the bottom of characters and changes spacing, which can help to reduce the tendency of dyslexic readers to flip and swap letters. By using this extension, individuals with dyslexia can browse and read online content more comfortably.

    Audiobooks

    Audiobooks can be a powerful tool for individuals with dyslexia as they offer an alternative to traditional reading that plays to the auditory strengths many dyslexics have. Listening to an audiobook audio recording allows dyslexic individuals to bypass the decoding process that often presents difficulties in reading, while still allowing them to engage with and understand the content. Additionally, the use of audiobooks can increase vocabulary, comprehension, and listening skills.

    Education programs

    Several highly effective educational programs and methodologies have been developed to help dyslexic students. They focus on structured, multisensory, phonics-based methods to enhance reading, writing, and spelling skills. Some of the best known education programs to
    support students with dyslexia include:

    1. Orton-Gillingham Approach — This is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then builds on these skills over time. It’s multisensory, meaning instruction involves using sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words.
    2. Wilson Reading System — This is a 12-step remedial reading and writing program for students with dyslexia. It directly and systematically teaches students how to fluently and accurately decode. It’s heavily based on the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach.
    3. Lindamood Bell Programs (LiPS, Visualizing and Verbalizing) — Lindamood-Bell programs are intended to develop the sensory-cognitive processes that underlie reading and comprehension. LiPS (Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing) focuses on developing phonemic awareness. Visualizing and Verbalizing develops concept imagery for reading and listening comprehension.
    4. Barton Reading & Spelling System — This is an Orton-Gillingham influenced program that works well for students with dyslexia. It uses one-on-one tutoring methods that are direct, explicit, multi-sensory, and sequential.
    5. Fast ForWord — This is a computer-based program that focuses on enhancing the cognitive skills that are critical for reading and learning, such as auditory processing, memory, attention, and sequencing.
    6. Kurzweil Education Systems — Kurzweil provides a suite of assistive technology products that scan, read, and allow students to complete worksheets or tests on a computer.

    Speechify — The ultimate text to speech tool for people with dyslexia

    Speechify is the leading text to speech tool for learners and adults with dyslexia. It uses the most advanced AI, text to speech synthesis, and machine learning algorithms to read aloud digital text with natural-sounding voices across various languages, including English, Spanish, Russian, and more.

    In fact, thanks to Speechify’s advanced text to speech and OCR technology, the platform can read any physical or digital text aloud, including hand written notes, web pages, Microsoft Word files, emails, messages, and more.

    The app is available for Apple iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Windows, and Mac operating systems. It also has a Google Chrome extension. Best of all, you can try its robust features today without commitment at Speechify.

    FAQ

    What is low-tech assistive technology for dyslexia?

    Low-tech devices often don’t require training and are more affordable. Handheld magnifiers, colored overlays, reading rulers, highlighters, dictionary pens, slant boards, pencil grips, and word banks are popular low-tech assistive technology tools for dyslexia.

    What is the most effective intervention for dyslexia?

    Effective intervention for dyslexia needs to be personalized to meet the individual’s needs, multisensory as to engage multiple brain parts, and structured so it moves from less to more complex concepts. Direct phonics instruction and continuous feedback are also parts of effective dyslexia intervention.

    What are the best time management apps?

    Some of the best time management apps include Toggl for comprehensive time tracking, Asana for project management, RescueTime for productivity insights, Forest for focused work sessions, and Google Calendar for scheduling and reminders.

    Where can I find webinars about dyslexia?

    You can find information webinars about dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association.

    Who benefits from Speechify?

    Apart from being efficient for people with dyslexia, special education teachers and language pathologists use Speechify as a speech therapy tool to help people with a wide scope of language difficulties.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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