I was Diagnosed with Dyslexia in the 3rd Grade
Learning disabilities always make life difficult for students who have them. I know firsthand how difficult having a learning disability can be. I was first diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade, at which point I had a 1st grade reading and spelling level and a 2nd grade comprehension level. Even high school was very difficult but I was able to work my way through the challenges and actually graduate with honors. Before I left for college I was retested to see where my disability was at and, unfortunately, none of my levels had increased any since my first diagnosis back in 3rd grade.
Dyslexia Made College Seem Impossible
With this disability it made it seem almost impossible to try to take on the challenges of college, or the workforce for that matter, but I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), who in turn introduced me to an adaptive consultant who taught me about assistive technology. He introduced me to two programs —Kurzweil 3000-firefly and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This experience might be one of the most significant events of my life. With the introduction of these two programs, my educational and personal experiences completely changed. Instead of going to grandparents’ and neighbors’ houses to get help with homework and have them read books to me, I was finally able to be independent and do much of my own homework without any additional support. After my 1st semester in college of using Kurzweil 3000-firefly and Dragon, I was able to obtain a 4.0.
Assistive Technology Helped with My Dyslexia
I realized that now that I had these tools, I could get involved in other aspects of college that I never believed would be available to someone like me who simply had to spend all their time on homework. The next semester I began joining social groups and networking clubs. The following semester I got a job and was able to work while going to school. By the time my final semester came, I was in 6 social groups and officer of 3, I was in the honors program for the University and taking honors classes, as well as carrying an 18 credit class load while still maintaining my grades and working between 35 and 40 hours a week. The technology didn’t only give me the flexibility to be independent and complete projects on my own, but it helped me develop confidence and strengthen the person I could be. In addition, the technology gave me the time to develop other aspects of my life like a traditional college student does by working and getting in social groups. After 3 ½ years I was able to graduate with honors from my university. At that time I chose to be retested before entering the workforce to make sure I knew where I was with my disability. After only 3 ½ years of using this technology I had increased my reading and spelling levels by two grade levels and had increased my comprehension capabilities by over 13 grade levels. And doing this all while not getting any additional individual remediation. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the software and would have never made it through college without these tools.
Helping Others Find Success Despite Dyslexia is My Passion
Now 11 ½ years after my original graduation for my undergraduate degree, I have dedicated my life to helping others like myself find the relief and strength that comes from having the right solutions in their lives. While working full-time for a technology consulting company called Adaptive Technology Resource in Wisconsin, I was able to get my Master’s degree at night and still graduate in the top 20% of my class, all the while using Kurzweil 3000-firefly. To this day, assistive technology is a big part of my life and I use Kurzweil on a daily basis to read all of my emails, do research on new products, produce and proof reports, and so many other features I couldn’t list them all.
If there are individuals out there who have the will and the desire to be successful in the face of diversity such as a learning disability, there are tools that can help them overcome their disability and allow them to be independent and successful. I truly feel like I’m living proof of that and never imagine my life without my assistive technology tools. In many ways these tools are like the best friend I never had growing up. They are always there for me and don’t judge me when I make mistakes.
Join Me for a Webinar to See how Kurzweil 3000-firefly Helps with Dyslexia
I would love to share my personal experience with you. Register for a free webinar on May 20th at 12:00 PM Eastern when I will show you how I use Kurzweil 3000-firefly in the workplace.
“Takin’ Care of Business” – Success in the Workplace Even with Print Disabilities
Tue., May 20th, 12:00 PM ET
Nicholas Hanford, MBA
Manager, Educational Sales & Training
Adaptive Technology Resources, Inc.