Guest Blog: 3 Easy Assistive Tech Tools for Students with Dyslexia

3 Easy Assistive Technology Tools That Can Help Your Students with Dyslexia Today

The following post was written by guest blogger, Jamie Martin.

In today’s schools, embracing assistive technology is a necessary step toward leveling the learning field for students with dyslexia. Assistive tech accommodations can be game-changers for these students, allowing them to complete their reading and writing work with greater independence and confidence. 

The following three tech tools are intuitive to use and easy to implement in the classroom. Better yet... they are all free, so your students can start using them today!

1. Google Voice Typing: Dictation technology is a great tech tool that makes writing less stressful and more productive for students with dyslexia. Sometimes called speech-to-text or speech recognition, dictation transcribes spoken words into electronic text. It allows students to compose with their voices, bypassing the mechanics of writing, which can be difficult for students with language difficulties. One of the easiest dictation tools is Google Voice Typing, which can be found in Google Docs while using the Chrome web browser. Find it by navigating to Google Docs > Tools > Voice Typing. 

Classroom Pro-Tips: Provide a quiet place for your students to dictate their work. Remind them to speak slowly and clearly and to dictate punctuation marks. For best results, students should dictate phrases and sentences rather than just one word at a time.

Similar dictation tools: iOS Dictation, macOS Dictation, Windows Speech Recognition

2. iOS Text-to-Speech: Text-to-speech is a great tech tool that converts digital text into spoken words, providing access to the world of print that might otherwise be inaccessible to students with dyslexia. If your students are Apple users, one of the easiest and most useful text-to-speech tools is located right on their iPads or iPhones. They can use two tools, Speak Selection and Speak Screen, to have text read aloud in a variety of voices and at various speeds. The words can also be highlighted as they are spoken. The text-to-speech options can be found in the Accessibility settings of your students’ devices. To get started, watch this 3-minute tutorial video from Understood.orgHow to Use Text-to-Speech on a Mobile Device.

Classroom Pro-Tips: Students can use text-to-speech to read text that is above their reading levels (but at their comprehension levels). They can also use it to listen for errors in their written work. Have headphones available so that students can use text-to-speech easily in the classroom.

Similar text-to-speech tools: Android Select to Speak (also in the video above), macOS Text-to-Speech, NaturalReader

3. Prizmo Go - Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology tool that converts pictures of paper text into digital text that can be read aloud with text-to-speech. The easiest OCR tools are apps that utilize the cameras on smartphones and tablets. One great option for Apple users is Prizmo Go. When it’s launched, it looks like the standard camera app that comes with the device. Simply take a picture of a group of words and they will automatically convert to electronic text. The app has a built-in text-to-speech tool that will read the words aloud, highlighting them as it goes along.

Classroom Pro-Tip: Use Prizmo Go or another OCR tool to make handouts, textbooks, quizzes, and tests accessible to students who struggle with the written word. This can be particularly helpful for worksheets involving math word problems. Students can bypass their reading difficulties and focus on mastering their math skills.

Similar OCR tools: Speechify, Office Lens

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About Guest Blogger Jamie Martin:

Jamie Martin is an assistive technology consultant, specializing in finding AT solutions for students and adults with dyslexia. During his many years in education, he was an Orton-Gillingham tutor before getting immersed in the world of assistive tech. Having a full understanding of how remediation and accommodation can work together, he developed a successful assistive technology program at The Kildonan School in Amenia, NY before becoming an independent consultant.

Martin now works one-to-one with students and adults, trains teachers, and writes articles on assistive technology and dyslexia. He regularly gives presentations at educational conferences, including ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) and IDA (International Dyslexia Association). He is also a consulting expert for Understood.org, a leading website for learning and attention issues.

Find out more about Jamie and his work at his website: www.atdyslexia.com

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