Technology helping those with dyslexia

Dyslexia is a condition in which people have problems processing letters, symbols and words, potentially compromising their ability to read. According to Kids Health, a medical information site powered by Nemours, research has shown dyslexia is a byproduct of how the brain processes information. Those with dyslexia actually use different parts of the brain when they try to read than those without dyslexia, and these parts do not work efficiently.

Contrary to popular belief, those with dyslexia do not necessarily see words or letters backwards. One of the more common problems people with dyslexia experience is struggling to recognize phonemes, or the basic sounds of speech. As a result, putting the sounds of letters together to make words can be tricky for those with dyslexia.

With widespread technology usage at home and in schools, assistive devices and apps can help change the game for children and adults with dyslexia. The organization Dyslexic Advantage has found through their Dyslexia at School Study that denial of assistive technology in American schools continues to be a large problem. Of the respondents, 68 percent reported that their students weren’t offered accessible text or technology supports for reading.

Assistive technology can help those with dyslexia save considerable time and overcome challenges. People with dyslexia who opt to use assistive technology may find that they are able to showcase their intelligence and potential more fully. The following are some tools that can be assets.

• Speech recognition software: Users can dictate to a device and have their voices converted into text. Those with spelling or handwriting may find this helps dramatically with written communication.

• Text-to-speech software: This is essentially the reverse of speech recognition software. Text is turned into an audible voice that reads the words to the end user. This can help individuals understand written material and check over their work.

• Spellcheckers: Some spell-check programs are designed specifically for dyslexics and look for common errors and automatically replace them.

• Computer-based learning programs: These platforms are designed and written for dyslexics. They can help to improve skills in reading, writing, numeracy, and touch-typing, offers the Dyslexia Association.

• Smartpen: The Livescribe smartpen takes a picture of notes as they are written on special paper. It also has a built-in microphone that enables the user to record what is being said in a classroom or meeting setting.

• Digital/audio books: Various providers offer online libraries of digital or audio books that can help with reading or print disabilities.

• Special fonts: There is some evidence that using specific fonts may make it easier for people with dyslexia to decipher words and letters. Helpful fonts include Dyslexie, OpenDyslexic and Comic Sans, according to Dyslexic Advantage.

Helping those with dyslexia may involve utilizing the various assistive technologies now available.

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