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October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

Surprisingly, 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability and over 65% of those are deficits in reading. Often, these go undiagnosed, written off as “s/he doesn’t like to read”. If this sounds familiar to you, maybe before you became a writer you struggled with adopting the love of reading, check out the International Dyslexia Association’s Dyslexia Awareness Month in October.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a condition that affects people of all ages, male and female equally, and causes them to mix up letters and words they read making what for most is a joy-filled act challenging and frustrating.

“Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, that result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia often experience difficulties with both oral and written language skills. … It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed… ”

— the International Dyslexia Foundation

There is no cure for dyslexia. Individuals with this condition must instead develop coping strategies that help them work around their condition. In education, it is not uncommon to accommodate dyslexic students with special devices, additional time, varied format approaches (such as audio or video), and others. Most prominent educational testing centers (like SAT, ACT, PARC, and SBACC) make these available for most of their tests.

Resources

For individual needs such as casual reading, personal research, or anything else that requires significant amounts of reading, there is help. The IDA recommends accommodations such as:

  • variable work and test-taking settings (such as small groups, reduced distractions, and alternative furniture arrangements)
  • assistive technology (such as a calculator, text-to-speech tools, and electronic dictionaries)

Here are some of the most popular online websites, downloadable tools, and hardware that many find useful in countering the effects of dyslexia on reading:

Beeline Reader

Requires installation; available as an app or extension

Beeline Reader helps to guide readers’ eyes from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next using a colored gradient. It is available in sixty languages.

BrowsAloud

Software

BrowsAloud software adds speech, reading, and translation facility to websites for people with not only dyslexia but other mild visual impairments. Many sites now offer this on their webpages. To see if the site you’re interested in offers it, check for the BrowsAloud logo in the corner. You’ll see it on this page in the lower right.

ChromeSpeak

Free apps/extensions

At the time of this publication, Chrome offered twelve apps and extensions for reading-challenged users. These include text-to-speech, translations, webpage readers, and more.

HumanWare

Hardwareblind computer user reading

HumanWare offers assistive technology for people who are blind or have low vision. The products include a wide range of innovative products like the BrailleNote Touch (the first Google-certified braille tablet), iOS compatible Brailliant braille displays, digital audiobook players, desktop and portable vision/reading systems, and mobile electronic handheld magnifiers.

JAWS

Software

Fee-based JAWS is one of the most popular screen readers for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and braille output for PC-based documents in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Edge, and more. 

Natural reader

Web-based tool or software

Natural Reader is a text-to-speech tool that works on most document types — PDF, Word, Docs, EPub, and more. All you do is paste text into the dialogue box and the site reads it to you. There are free and fee versions, depending upon how much text you wish to be read and what additional features you’d like. For example, users can convert text to audio files, making them available anywhere.

Open Dyslexic

Free Chrome extension

Open Dyslexic is an open source font that improves readability for students with dyslexia. It actually changes the font on pages and reformats words for easier reading. Here’s what the font looks like:

Open-Dyslexic is an open sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia.

Read & Writedyslexia computer user

Chrome Extension

This free-to-teachers extension will read passages aloud to users. It also includes a dictionary, allows users to create voice notes, and can simplify and summarize text.

Snap n Read

Toolbar

Once the Snap n Read toolbar is installed onto your Chrome browser, the user selects text on a website or a document and clicks the speaker icon on the toolbar.

Sonocent Audio Notetaker

Software

This fee-based notetaking software enables students to take audio notes of lectures and classwork, copy whiteboard diagrams, and view online videos, all easily and autonomously. Once notes are recorded, they can be available as an audio file, be converted to text, and edited.  

***

If you have dyslexia, there are tools that will facilitate reading and learning. Check out these I’ve mentioned but also do a browser search to see what else is available for your specific condition. If you have a favorite that works well in your classroom, please add it in the comment section of this post to share with others.

@DyslexiaIDA

@TextHelp

@HumanWare

@FreedomSci

@OpenDyslexic

@Sonocent

More on visual needs:

Technology Removes Obstructed Writers’ Barriers to Learning

A Helping Hand: Assistive Technology Tools for Writing

3 Great Special Needs Digital Tools

Is Orton-Gillingham Right For You?

A Symbaloo of Dyslexia tools


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for Book 2 and 3 in her prehistoric trilogy, Dawn of Humanity, Fall 2021. 

53 thoughts on “October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

  1. Hi Jacqui – that’s an amazing amount of information … I’d guessed there would be – but never had a need to look … though am aware … they are usually bright people too. Thanks for the insight … all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: October is Dyslexia Awareness Month – POSITIVE ATTITUDE OF LIFE

  3. Excellent resources here, Jacqui. Thank you. One of my grandsons is dyslexic, and he finds it so helpful to use an app on his Ipad to read a book while listening to it. Helps him ‘read’ and also capture the words and what they look like in his mind. Amazing how many more resources there are for those with dyslexia compared to a couple of decades ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are right Jacqui, many of us have no idea. I had no idea about such a condition. About ten years back I saw a Hindi movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ where the protagonist was a child with dyslexia which is when I realised that many people struggle with this condition. So, I suppose Holly and Bollywood do some good too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for pointing out that it’s dyslexia month in October, Jacqui and for providing an explanation and all these resources. I had no idea that there were tools to help with a disability like this. I sometimes mess up words and numbers, but it’s usually because my mind is faster than my voice or because I’m not thinking straight… When I saw the title of your blog post, immediately thought about our blogging friend Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News (https://hughsviewsandnews.com/). I hope he reads your blog, because this info would be valuable to him.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m so happy that you are bringing attention to this problem, Jacqui. Not only do people make assumptions about someone “not liking to read,” but also that someone is not intelligent. I like the analogy of a car. If it’s not wired correctly, it won’t run as well. That doesn’t mean the car’s no good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I like IEPs but appreciate the reluctance of some families to enter into one. They are with the child throughout their education journey. I pushed for one for my son (for his learning disabilities) and my school made it so difficult to get, I gave up. Ended up glad I did.

      Liked by 1 person

        • For example, my son (who didn’t get an IEP) wanted later to apply to the US Naval Academy (or another US military academy). An IEP would have probably disqualified him because of the rigorous demands of that school. It made the point to me that an IEP is for life, with all the pros and cons.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I’m not sure. Maybe where it affected test taking times and locations (for ADHD students like my son. But you certainly have to disclose it. The USNA requires all medical records as well as a doctor’s examination before you are accepted (by them). You’d have to lie and that’s not a great way to start.

              The one accommodation the school did offer outside of the IEP they denied was allowing him to use a computer in the classroom (he’s 35 now so that was a while ago). And they didn’t follow through on that. Didn’t matter. I did!

              Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s nice to know there are so many helpful programs to assist people with dyslexia. If you ever have a chance, you should check out bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s experience growing up with dyslexia. It’s quite inspiring. Thanks for sharing, Jacqui!

    Liked by 2 people

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