Post by Brian M., 16 Year Old High School Student
I am in high school and I can’t read on or even close to grade level, but I need to learn the same material as my classmates. I have found ways to work around my difficulties that might be helpful to other students. For me, assistive technology is the solution. I use it on a daily basis in and out of school.
Before I started using technology to read, reading was a slow, tedious process. It took me so much longer than my peers and I wasn’t able to comprehend text at my intellectual ability. In school I would miss out on the class discussions because I would still be stumbling through sentences when everyone else was finished. At home, I would skim newspaper and magazine articles and look at the pictures, but I couldn’t read the whole thing. It was really frustrating.
Now, I read using Kurzweil 3000 for all of my class handouts, and Bookshare for all of my textbooks and the accessibility features on my iPhone. The word by word highlighting makes it easy for me to follow along and helps me to retain what I have read. Without Bookshare and Kurzweil I wouldn’t be able to take classes that are appropriate for my intellectual ability; instead I’d be held back by my reading disability. These technologies have given me a great deal of independence and opened many new doors for me.
With Bookshare I am able to read my textbooks at almost the same pace as my peers and I understand what I am reading. Bookshare and Kurzweil allow me to finish my work on time so I can participate in class discussions.
Using technology has made reading an enjoyable experience. I have always been eager to learn more about the world, but because of my dyslexia, reading was too much of a struggle and I didn’t get much out of it. I have been asked numerous times if it is “weird” to be the only one in the class to use a computer and headphones to read. My response is “no, but it’s really hard being the only one who doesn’t get it”.
It’s also hard to know that there are students who have not been able to benefit from these technologies because they don’t know about them. When I started high school my school did not have a Bookshare membership and my case manager said she had only worked with one person who used Kurzweil. She said she wasn’t aware that Kurzweil could be used for students with learning disabilities.
It would be great if I could help spread the word about how helpful technology can be for students who struggle in school. I’m writing a blog to share what I have learned about assistive technology. You can find it at www.bdmtech.blogspot.com. There is so much technology out there. Unfortunately some people in think technology is a crutch not a great resource. I hope that someday that will change.