Assistive technologies have the ability to really help dyslexics. Dragon is a speech recognition software program which allows the user to wear a headset and speak to the computer. I use Dragon to write my papers. It allows me to express myself more freely. It is still important to know how to type and to edit, but Dragon allows me to create my initial draft. Dyslexia is a neurobiological learning disability that makes the task of writing difficult.
E-readers have changed the lives of dyslexics. It is now possible to listen to almost any book, including textbooks. This is important because dyslexics often understand information that is presented to them through the auditory channel better than when they read the material themselves. Bookshare is a government-funded program that allows dyslexics to listen to almost any book for free provided that they have educational testing that confirms that they qualify for the service. In addition, Bookshare allows the user to change font size and increase the spacing between lines.
The LiveScribe pen is another technology that can help the dyslexic take notes. Note-taking is a frustrating task for many dyslexics because it’s difficult to listen carefully and absorb information during a lecture while simultaneously writing meaningful notes. Speed is an issue and it is often difficult to keep up. The pen and notebooks look like typical pens and spiral notebooks. When a student is listening to a lecture and realizes the information is important, the student begins writing in the notebook. As they begin writing, the pen begins to record the lecture. Later, if the student’s notes seem incomplete, he can place the pen on the exact page of his notes where the information is located and listen to the lecture at that point in time. It is also possible to plug the pen into the computer and transfer the student’s handwritten words into text. I have used the pen and if you have a teacher that does a lot of lecturing and doesn’t provide notes, the LiveScribe pen can make note-taking easier.
Apple’s AutoCorrect is also a very helpful tool for dyslexics since dyslexics often have trouble with spelling. I have found it extremely helpful in writing blog entries and writing personal narratives because it narrows the choices for spelling. In the past, a dyslexic student would have to look up in a dictionary every word they didn’t know how to spell.
Today, there are many technologies that are available to make life easier for the dyslexic student. It is exciting because with the current advances in science, this is just the beginning of the digital world and help for dyslexics.