Technology Integration for Students with Dyslexia
Useful Technologies to Support Students with Dyslexia
Technology Available for Free or at a Minimal Cost
Operating System Features
All computers have customizable options and settings included in the standard features of the operating systems. On the Macintosh (Mac) computer, these options are located in System Preferences in the Universal Access Window. In Windows, they are located in the control panel. Educators who work with students identified with dyslexia should start with exploring and adjusting the following customizable features:
- Auto Correct and Auto Text - This feature allows a user to change how word processing corrects and formats text while typing.
- Auto Summary - With this feature, a user can highlight the key aspects of text and assemble them to create a summary. For example, a student can use this feature to auto-summarize a collection of science articles or even create an abstract for a finished history report.
- Contrast or Color Display - A user can adjust the settings to make text and images on the screen appear larger and improve the contrast between items on the screen. This option allows the user to set a high-contrast color scheme that heightens the contrast of text and images on the computer screen, making items more distinct and easier to identify.
- Document Template - With this feature, a user can create a document template using a pre-formatted file-type. In the template, many features, such as font, size, color, background, and pictures, are pre-formatted; however, a user can also edit them for personal preference.
- Movement of the Mouse - A user can change how the mouse pointer appears and turn on other features based on personal preference to make using the mouse easier.
- Readability - With this feature, a user can check the readability statistics as part of the spelling and grammar check. For example, this feature provides information about the number of passive sentences contained in a text and gives scores for Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
- Speech Recognition - This feature allows the user to access speech recognition to navigate the computer by voice rather than via keyboard and mouse.
- Speed of the Keystrokes - This feature allows the user the option to set filter keys to run when logging on to Windows. For example, changes can be made to ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession and/or keystrokes that are held down for several seconds unintentionally.
- Spelling and Grammar Check - The user may correct typos and misspelled words while composing text using the AutoCorrect feature. AutoCorrect is set up by default with a list of typical misspellings and symbols, but a user can modify the list to suit specific needs.
- Text to Speech - This feature allows a user to access a basic screen reader called Narrator, which reads text on the screen aloud while using the computer.
- Thesaurus - A user can click on an individual word or phrase to get alternative word choices.
For further information and instructions regarding customizable features, consult the Microsoft in Education Teacher Resources.
Digital books websites can be useful. Individuals with dyslexia are eligible to obtain digital books, including digital textbooks. In some cases, a verification of disability is required. The following websites provide information about access to free digital books:
- Learning Ally
- Local Public Library (check with your library to determine access)
- National Library Service
- Project Gutenberg
- US Library of Congress
Text-to-Speech (TTS) software provides students access to print by reading the contents on the screen aloud. The following websites may be beneficial for students with dyslexia:
- Microsoft Word
- Outlook 2010
- State approved adoptions (NOTE: When new state-adopted materials are chosen, districts should determine if TTS is available.)
Speech-to-Text (STT) software translates spoken words into text. The following websites may be beneficial for students with dyslexia:
Concept Mapping can assist students in organizing and synthesizing information to make the broader connections necessary for reading comprehension and writing assistance that result in improved performance in content-area instruction. The following is a list of examples of free or low cost software:
- Bubbl.us - This is an online brainstorming website that exports images, such as mind maps.
- Gliffy - This is an online diagramming software tool with flowcharts, floor plans, Venn diagrams and more.
- Inspiration - This visual thinking software is suitable for grades 4 to adult. The software is designed to help students develop and gather ideas, organize thoughts, analyze and interpret information, clarify understanding, and communicate ideas clearly.
- Kidspiration - This visual thinking software is suitable for grades 1-3. Students combine pictures, text, numbers, and spoken words to develop vocabulary, word recognition, reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking skills.
- Lucid Chart - This is a website that allows students to create collaborative flow charts and organizational charts.
- Mindmeister - This is a website – also available as an app – for collaborative concept mapping.
- Mindomo - This site allows students to create mind maps for a long-term project. Maps can be exported to Microsoft Word and Excel.
- MyStudyBar - This software comes with a literacy toolbar that includes mind mapping, screen masking, word prediction, talking dictionary, and text-to-speech to help students convey their thoughts in writing.
- Quicklyst - This website provides an organizational process for taking notes in an outline format.
- Slatebox - This website provides mind-mapping collaborative slates.
- Time Line Maker - This website allows for the development of time lines with a choice of templates.
- VocabularySpellingCity - This site is meant to improve a child’s spelling and vocabulary skills.
- Webspiration - This website is suitable for grades 5-12. Students will use visual frameworks to aid in writing skills.
Vocabulary can be explored by using websites. For students with dyslexia, slower or difficult reading leads to reduced vocabulary knowledge. The following tools can be explored to support students in accessing difficult vocabulary:
- Lexipedia - This is an online visual semantic network supporting six different languages.
- MathWords - This is an online interactive math dictionary.
- Visual Thesaurus - This online dictionary analyzes and generates a list of useful vocabulary words from any text.
- Visuwords - This online graphic dictionary allows students to create a graphic organizer for individual words.
- VocabAhead - This website provides a visual dictionary using short vocabulary videos for SAT/ACT test preparation.
- WordSmyth - This website provides a traditional look and feel to an online dictionary.
Web 2.0 Tools
Web 2.0 Tools have made the Internet a participatory, interactive place where readers create, collaborate, and share information, bringing new and powerful opportunities to the classroom. Students can interface via text-to-speech (TTS) and screen reader (SR) by accessing a variety of resources. The following are tools that can be used by all students; they are especially helpful for increasing content knowledge through collaboration.
- Blogs are a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of entries, known as "posts," typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Blogs are usually the work of a single individual (occasionally of a small group) and often are themed on a single subject. The following is a list of examples:
- Multimedia Tools include a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and/or interactive content forms. Teachers and students can access such tools for educational and recreational purposes. The following is a list of examples:
- Project Share is an online environment of educational resources that incorporates the use of today’s digital tools. Available for public school teachers and students, Project Share offers an opportunity to move beyond the walls of the traditional and expand the learning environment through multiple avenues, including online courses, wikis, digital portfolios, and more.
- Wikis offer users the ability to add, modify, or delete content via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor. Most Wikis are created collaboratively. They serve many different purposes, including knowledge management, collaborative learning, and content attainment. The following is a list of examples:
- Word Processing using Google Drive, formerly known as Google Docs, is a free, web-based office suite and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real time with other users.