The International Dyslexia Association states that dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Contrary to some beliefs, it is not due to either a lack of intelligence or a desire to learn. As a matter of fact, with the right accommodations and resources, people with dyslexia can, and do, learn successfully. I have seen this success first hand as a result of the implementation trainings I have supported throughout the country. While some of our learners are auditory learners, others are more visual learners. Some learn best with auditory, visual and kinesthetic support. By utilizing technology and providing great instruction, we can positively influence our students with dyslexia.
Technology Helps Students with Dyslexia to Read at Grade Level
Up until 3rd grade, students learn to decode and read. After 3rd grade, the material is more complex and the emphasis is more on reading to learn. Our students who struggle to read grade-level text often don’t process the content and can quickly fall behind their classmates. Having teachers, parents and/or peers reading the class material out loud to the student can be embarrassing and the timing is determined by the reader’s schedule. What’s the alternative?
Using Kurzweil 3000-firefly, students with dyslexia can work at their own pace, and can both access and process the content independently. Here are some of the ways Kurzweil 3000-firefly helps to personalize their reading experience.
- Choose from over 25 human-like, Acapela text-to-speech voices—high quality voices not only helps with reading but is an important factor for comprehension
(Tip: Assigning different voices for each subject to help with recollection)
- Modify the reading speed to better meet their abilities and can visually follow along as the highlighted text is being read
- Read in OpenDyslexic Font, which has weighted letters that help students focus on the words and see text more clearly
Another challenge for the reader with dyslexia is staying focused on the text detail and extracting the key concepts. Teachers often instruct students to highlight text to locate and organize the main ideas. The reality is, once a paper or text book is marked up with all those colorful highlights, it is impossible to edit, remove or change the color of the highlights. Using Kurzweil 3000-firefly, our learners can highlight the text’s main concepts and then extract the highlights and save them into a new document for use as a study guide. Now, it can be easily opened as an outline or brainstorm map. Next, the student can return to the main document, erase the highlights and reread for a different purpose such as, cause and effect or even to locate answers to the questions at the end of the text.
In addition, the student can highlight key vocabulary words and with one click of the mouse, extract these words into a vocabulary study guide that automatically includes word definitions from one of the dictionary reference tools embedded within Kurzweil. There is no need to spend extra time looking up definitions; keeping the focus where it should be, on understanding the words and exploring how they are used in context. Students can also take advantage of the Widget Picture Symbols included in Kurzweil to gain comprehension.
Writing Support to Students with Dyslexia
Finally, some dyslexia learners have trouble getting their thoughts down on paper. Kurzweil 3000 ships with over 30 templates that help these students easily move from brainstorming, to outlining, to the final product. The word prediction, talking spell checker and content specific word lists provide the framework for successful writing. Installing Kurzweil gives you access to the OpenDyslexic font.
Anywhere, Anytime Access to Content
Students want access to their reading material anytime, anywhere. Using Kurzweil-firefly, students can access their text from the cloud through their iPad or computer browser. This also includes Bookshare books and any materials scanned into the computer using the high quality OCR found in Kurzweil 3000-firefly. It is no longer necessary for parents and teachers to read to their students, the students have been empowered to access the text themselves.
Additional Resources on Dyslexia
There are so many resources and books written to help us understand dyslexia. Two of my favorites are written for the layman and provide wonderful insight into the creativity often found within people with dyslexia!
- Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. New York, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc by Sally Shaywitz, S. E. (2003)
- The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock I. Eide and Fernette L. Eide
The quest is not how to cure dyslexia, because dyslexia is not a disease. The quest is to find the best resources for tools that are able to support our students with dyslexia who learn differently. Kurzweil 3000-firefly is a wonderful resource that has many tools and features that benefit the learner with dyslexia.