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Dyslexia Assessments

How to use technology to give dyslexic learners a boost

Dyslexia can make learning in the classroom a real challenge, but did you know that introducing some clever bits of tech can make a huge difference? Let’s give dyslexic Learners a boost!

Classroom challenges

Dyslexia can impact everything from a child’s reading and writing to their verbal communication, and ultimately the way they process and remember information.  

For a child who is already trying to overcome these challenges the classroom can feel a bit like a pressure cooker. Firstly, without the adequate support they can feel out of their depth. This can result in low self-esteem and even anxiety, which can then impact their ability to learn even more.

But there are many ways to create a dyslexia friendly learning environment, from different fonts to learning aids. There’s even some digital wizardry that can support reading and spelling! Let’s talk about how technology could give your child’s learning a boost, and their classmates too!

Learning to learn differently

When it comes to dyslexia simple things can make such a huge difference. Teachers using visual aids and speaking more slowly can give dyslexic learners a significant boost. Making sure your child is sitting in a seat where they can read physical cues from their teacher is equally helpful.

Reducing the pressure on a dyslexic child is important, so teachers may add breaks into their learning. Avoid asking your child to read aloud, and mark the content of their work separately to their spelling and grammar. In addition, having the alphabet, numbers or keywords on display can reduce the amount of memory recall. Your child  can then focus on the lesson instead! 

Let’s talk tech

Creating a classroom that’s dyslexia friendly is all about taking steps like these to enable students with dyslexia to participate in lessons alongside their peers. Making work more creative and less about straightforward written tasks is great. However, there’s always going to be a need to digest chunks of text and craft larger pieces of writing. The key to this, is to have the right support mechanisms in place and it’s here that technology really comes into its own.

There are great tools that we all have access to anyway. Tablets and laptops can be introduced into the classroom with really positive boosts to dyslexic learning. Speech recognition is something many of us take for granted when we ask Siri a question. Smartphones could be used when studying at home, but typically usage is not allowed whilst at school. Regardless, the classroom gadgets like these can be a real lifeline for dyslexic learners.

Speaking and spelling

Siri might be the most well-known, but there are now speech recognition programmes available on Apple, Google and Windows. Programmes like these enable a child to dictate to their device, or issue simple commands. Speech recognition can give children a lot more freedom to express themselves without getting bogged down in spelling and grammar. The same is true of predictive text, and the best bit is there are lots of free apps available that could give dyslexic learners a boost.

Spelling matters though, and it can be really tricky for dyslexic learners who often struggle to learn by rote. Enter the talking spell checker. Many schools now recommend these programmes for all their younger learners, dyslexic or not. They allow children, or their parents, to input the spelling words. Children can then hear those words read out as opposed to reading them off the page, plus they’re a lot of fun to use.

Bringing reading to life

When it comes to learning with dyslexia, the struggle with reading is what most people tend to think of. Words jumping all over the page and letters jumbling up can make the process incredibly tricky.

With worksheets and factual texts, the added burden of also struggling to read the initial information can be too much for some children. That’s where a text reader can really help. Available on all computers and tablets they read the text from a document or web page and turn it into spoken word. In many cases you can also adjust the speed and dialect of the speech to suit your child. It’s a great alternative to reading a document and allows Dyslexic learners to get a boost. This allows Dyslexic learners to learn and understand tasks at the same pace as their classmates.

In addition, you can use a tablet camera to take a photo of a printed document and turn it into a document that can then be read by a text reader. Digital and audio books are also really beneficial, making literature accessible for everyone, not just dyslexics.

Put your best font forward

The size and colour of a font are important if you’re thinking about accessibility for dyslexic learners. Sans Serif fonts like Arial and Open Sans reduce the chance of mirroring and letters moving about on the page. Avoiding italics and underlining can also make a real difference.

Colour is also significant – not just for the font, but also the background. Whether it’s a Word document or a screen tint on a tablet, a change in shade can dramatically increase legibility. Whilst we’re at it, changing the background colour of the classroom smartboard can also help, and it might make learning more appealing for non-dyslexic classmates as well!

The opportunities that technology brings for dyslexic learners are really exciting. As a reminder, there’s a great resource produced by Call Scotland which is a one page guide to technology in a dyslexia friendly classroom, you can download it here. Giving Dyslexic learners a boost is essential in providing a positive learning experience.

About Dyslexia First

At Dyslexia First we want to help those who are living with dyslexia to enjoy life and the opportunities it brings. We are relentlessly positive about dyslexia.

If you would like to talk further about dyslexia and discuss assessment for children or adults, please get in touch.

Getting assessed by a qualified practitioner is crucial to getting the correct diagnosis and accessing the help and support you need for your child. Always check an assessor’s qualifications at: SpLD Assessment Standards Committee website.