Dyslexia and Assistive Technology


Reading

Computers can provide great benefits for those that have difficulty reading. Here are some ways in which they can help:

    Almost any standard flatbed scanner comes with free software that allows printed text such as books or letters to be recognised by the computer and inserted into a new Word Document or PDF file. Purchasing more advanced software allows a greater degree of accuracy and flexibility…

      Computers have long allowed a user to change their font styles to suit their personal preferences. It is now possible to customise text, to a greater or lesser degree, across all computer applications including word processing, the Internet and the menus and dialogs in Windows itself. Making the change from a serif to a sans-serif font can make an enormous difference to text’s readability and one can go further by adjusting the size, colours, line-spacing and character-spacing…

        Many students that I work with struggle to read long blocks of text. In addition to making it more visually accessible one can balance the load a little and let the ears take on some of the work. Most people with literacy difficulties have large auditory and spoken vocabularies but are unable to recognise the word in print. Having text read aloud, albeit with a rather robotic-sounding voice, can bring great improvement and confidence…

          • Dictionary Lookup

            The most recent version of Microsoft Word allows a user to look up individual works in its on-line dictionary. This is a lot quicker and easier than attempting to use paper dictionaries where the order of the alphabet needs to be known and there is no text-to-speech possibility. Top Tip: Cambridge Publishing has a great online Learners dictionary with simple definitions and sample sentences.

          • Windows Visual Display

          People with Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia may find that they benefit from alterations to the presentation of fonts and blocks of text on the screen…

          Writing

          Simply using a computer keyboard can make writing a lot easier for many people who find that the concentration required for the production of letter shapes impairs their ability to construct good sentences. They also reduce the worries of proofing a document with the ability to edit and re-edit text with ease and use proofing features such as the spell checker.

            As with Reading, above, making text as visually accessible as possible can increase comfort, legibility and potentially increase session lengths by reducing glare.

              The spell checkers found in word processors such as Microsoft Word are very useful as they indicate errors and attempt to correct them. Many people, especially those with Dyslexia, could benefit from more advanced spell checkers that offer greater recognition, speech output and definitions.

                Text synthesis, or text-to-speech as it is often called, offers many benefits to people who struggle to proofread their written work. Many pupils with literacy difficulties get words mixed up and can often correctly spell one word when they actually mean another. By having their text read aloud they can hear mistakes that wouldn’t be picked up by the spell checker

                  Homophones are words which sound the same but are spelt differently. They are particularly irksome to people with Dyslexia as they are not picked up by the spell checker and cannot be heard as errors when proofing one’s work using text-to-speech. Fortunately it is possible to purchase specialist software that will pick up on each potential homonym error in a document.

                    Writing an essay or dissertation can make most of us rather uneasy but to a person with Dyslexia it can be a particularly daunting task. My recommendation is that these people break their longer written tasks down into sections using mind mapping software. This way the structure of the essay can be created visually and then worked on a bit at a time.

                    • Speech Recognition (coming soon)

                    Sometimes known as voice recognition, speech recognition software is often an effective solution for people who struggle to spell words or form good written structure. Many people with Dyslexia find it significantly easier to express themselves verbally and for them this software can be very useful. It doesn’t suit all voices, however, and can take some time to learn.

                    Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome

                    Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, frequently known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, is a visual perceptual disorder which can affect a person’s ability to read. Follow this link for an article on how you can change the computer colours to improve readability and comfort for some individuals with dyslexia.

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