Digital Tools for Students with Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

 

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability,  affecting 10-20% of children and adults. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that causes difficulty with language skills, specifically reading (IDA website).  It is a disability that affects an individual throughout their life, although with interventions and supports people with dyslexia can become highly successful (Redford, 2014).  The following paragraph comes from the Yale Institute for Dyslexia and Creativity, which borrows their definition from the book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.

 

Dyslexic children and adults struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and learn a second language, among other challenges. But these difficulties have no connection to their overall intelligence. In fact, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often, paradoxically, are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities.

Source: IDA website- https://dyslexiaida.org/infographics/

 

The Impact of Technology

Advances in (and increased access to) technology have had a significant and positive impact for students with dyslexia.  Technology has the ability to provide students with supports such as more time, the ability to use assistive technology to read and write, and ways to provide interventions without drawing attention to the disability.  Many of the digital resources that have and will continue to provide support to students with language-based learning disabilities are free. Technology also allows increased access to information about dyslexia and the ability to connect online with others who share a common interest, such as dyslexia.  

 

Recommendations

Through my research and my experience working with dyslexic students, I have come up with some recommendations as listed below. I have grouped these recommendations into three categories: reading and learning, note-taking, and writing. These are the three areas of school where students with dyslexia typically experience the most difficulty and where technology supports and resources can be very valuable and dramatically transform the learning environment and opportunities for success for students with dyslexia.

 

Reading and Learning

  • Provide shorter and less dense reading assignments, but still at same reading and information level
  • Allow students to listen to audio books (either human read or computer-generated)
  • Assign graphic novels for reading (Redford, 2014)
  • Make sure to increase font size and use font that is simple
  • Provide students with text to speech technologies

An example of using Assistive Technology (browsealoud) to read a website.

Source: IDA website- https://dyslexiaida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2/

 

 

Note-Taking

  • Provide typed notes when appropriate
  • Allow students to record lectures/instruction/ assignment directions
  • Allow students to take pictures of the board or any other visuals in the classroom

 

Spelling and Writing

  • Allow student to type their writing whenever possible and ensure they have instruction in efficient keyboard practices (Redford, 2014)
  • When students are generating ideas or mapping out their writing, allow them to dictate their thinking so that their ideas are able to be captured as their thoughts and creativity flow (Redford, 2014)
  • Provide access to programs that can translate speech to text
  • Encourage use of spell-check, spelling predictors, and grammar programs

 

Most Important

  • Allow extra time for students with language-based learning disabilities for reading, writing, test-taking, etc.
  • When appropriate provide the whole class with the accommodations options listed above for two reasons. 1) Accommodations for students with a learning disability are often beneficial to all students and 2) It allows the student(s) with dyslexia to access these supports without drawing attention to their disability

 

Sources:

Chernek, V (2015). “Will Accessible Books Improve Reading for Students with Dyslexia?” EdSurge. (Retrieved on 2018, August 5) from:

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-01-27-will-digital-accessible-books-improve-reading-for-students-with-dyslexia

 

Common Sense Media for Educators website. “Best Assistive Technology for Reading in the Classroom”. (Retrieved on 2018, August 3) from: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-assistive-technology-for-reading-in-the-classroom

 

Eide, F (2015) “3 Technology Must-Dos for Dyslexia at School” Dyslexic Advantage (Retrieved on 2018, August 5) from: https://www.dyslexicadvantage.org/3-technology-must-dos-for-dyslexia-at-school/

 

International Dyslexia Association website: https://dyslexiaida.org/

 

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, June 21) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

 

Hamman, J (2018). “Accommodating Students with Dyslexia”. Edutopia.org Website (Retrieved on 2018, August 1) from: https://www.edutopia.org/article/accommodating-students-dyslexia?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4a3F16zA3AIVRIF-Ch0cMwcmEAAYAyAAEgLFVvD_BwE

 

Redford, K (2014). “Kids Can’t Wait: Strategies to Help Struggling Readers” Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (Retrieved on 2018, August 5) from: http://dyslexia.yale.edu/resources/educators/instruction/kids-cant-wait-strategies-to-support-struggling-readers/

 

Shapiro, L (2018). “How Technology Helped me Cheat Dyslexia” (Retrieved on 2018, August 5) from: https://www.wired.com/story/end-of-dyslexia/

 

4 thoughts on “Digital Tools for Students with Dyslexia

  1. Susan, this was a very interesting read! I appreciate your introduction in dispelling dyslexia myths to help set the stage for implications in technology. I like that your approach of technology as a tool that can help overcome challenges as well as your tips for helping students with learning disabilities. I will keep this post handy for future reference!

  2. Thank you for this post, Susan! This subject is important to me because my mom has dyslexia. Her experience in education was very negative because she was constantly criticized and put down by teachers. This was before technology like the resources you mention existed. I’m so glad that our education system has progressed. In addition to the general accommodations, I appreciate that you included things like audio books which I hadn’t previously considered. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Lauren

  3. Susan,
    What a great post. I learned so much in you blog. I have limited experience working with students with dyslexia and I think all of these recommendations will have a healthy impact on student learning. I can’t wait to share this with my district as we begin the roll out process of a new dyslexia curriculum for students.
    Keep up the great work!
    -Kelsey

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