Three Assistive Technology Tools to Help Students with Dyslexia

Three Assistive Technology Tools to Help Students with Dyslexia


In this blog post, we talk with our Instructional Technologist, Christine Dinh, and discuss three assistive technology tools that can help students who have dyslexia. 

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. And this vlog, we're here with our Instructional Technologist Mrs. Dinh discussing three technology tools that can help students who have dyslexia. Welcome to The Joy Vlog! Thank you. Thank you. Happy to be here. Yeah. So, before we start talking about these tools, will you tell us a little bit about your role at The Joy School? Yes. So, as the Instructional Technologist, my main priority is to help teachers bring technology into the classroom. And that could be in terms of assistive technology, like some of the things that we're going to be talking about today, or it could just be technology as a general term bringing in how to use laptops with this lesson plan, or how to use iPads with this lesson plan and just kind of updating whatever they have a little bit with technology.

So we're going to talk about three tools that can help students with dyslexia. And they are the dictation tool within Word and OneNote, the immersive reader, also within what Word and OneNote and picture to text to speech tools.

Let's talk about the first tool. But before we do that, let's talk about what dyslexia is and how these tools can help students who have dyslexia. So, dyslexia in very broad terms, is a learning difficulty that centers around reading difficulties which can affect reading fluency, spelling and output with writing as well. Sometimes they can affect speech with students. Sounds good. That's good. So, how can these tools help students that have dyslexia? So with the dictation piece, it can help students get all of their ideas out onto paper or in this part, onto the computer a lot faster without that worry of how do I spell this or anything slowing them down in the process. So it really helps them get that stuff out there. And with the immersive reader, it helps them take in that information at their comprehension level.

So they may not be able to read the words, but they can understand the words when it's read to them. And the immersive reader really helps with that piece. So, let's talk about our first tool, the dictation tool. What is this tool and how's it used? It is in Word and OneNote, and Microsoft is slowly rolling out to other applications as well. And it's fairly simple. It's a lot easier than a lot of the ones that we've used in the past where kids had to train the computer to recognize their speech patterns and their way of speaking. This way they just press a little microphone, and it starts recording right away. And it also records punctuation. So when kids stop, it will recognize that and if it doesn't, the kid would just say 'insert period' or 'put a period,' and it'll insert punctuation to that way.

The next tool we're talking about is the immersive reader. And it can also be found in Word and OneNote. So, what is this tool, and how can students use it? So the immersive reader is a really nice tool. It can read text back to the students. The text can be imported into Word or OneNote as text as they're writing. Or if you embed a PDF, it has an OCR tool, which stands for Optical Character Recognition, where the program can pull the text from the PDF and read that text back to you. And it can do it from an image as well. So, if students have an image that has a lot of writing on it, they can put that into OneNote or Word and it can read it to them. It's also available in Microsoft Edge, the internet browser. So, if students are reading from there, it can read it from that, and read the text to them too.

And one of the cool features about immersive reader is that it can highlight one line at a time by blocking out everything else. So the students focus on just that one line at a time. It highlights the words as it is being read to them. They can increase or decrease the speed of the reading and select from different voices. They can also change the background color and text color. So sometimes that helps students kind of isolate the words as well. There's a syllabication piece where it will break the words into syllables for them. It can highlight nouns, adjectives, adverbs, things like that to really break down the sentences for the students, so that they can really take in that information in a way that works the best for them.

Let's talk about the last tool on our list, the picture to text to speech tool. For this tool, you're going to show us how it's used, but before we do that, let's talk about why would a student use this tool? Yes. So, a lot of the tools that we have, like in OneNote that we just talked about, require the students to be using a laptop or a device similar to that. And in the real world every day time, when they're walking around the streets, sometimes it's difficult to do all of that. But there might be a sign that the students want to read, or if they're in a museum. When they're solving scavenger hunts around the school and we have a little word prompts for them. We've found that students are having difficulty just reading that piece. And so, I did a little bit of research and found that there are programs on phones and on Android and iOS that can translate, or you take a picture of the text, and it can take the OCR tool again and pull the text from there and give you the text.

And sometimes that helps students, but they needed to take it a step further where it, it took the text and translate it to speech, so that they could understand it. And there are, there aren't that many programs out there, but there are a couple that I'm going to show you that can take it from picture to text and then to speech so that students can really understand what the signs are saying.

So I want to show you today is an app called Voice Dream that will take a picture, convert it to text and take that text and convert it to speech for you. So I'm going to open it here. This is on iOS devices. Oh look who's that? That might be me. So you want to go here, find a picture and take a picture there. Notice that I didn't have to be very worried about the focus. It auto did that for us. And we're just going to kind of pick something to highlight and have it read to us. So, let's go with this much. And press done there. And then it's going to turn the text for you. You can read it from the screen by pressing the play button.

App reading: I used to help fourth and fifth grade teachers bring (Pause)

You can do that. You can press the buttons over here to the right to turn it into regular text.

App reading: I used to help fourth and fifth grade teachers bring technology into the (Pause)

You can click on the sound type button, make the speech rate a little bit faster, and change the voice here.

App reading: The classrooms. But as a full time teacher that was all I could.

Yeah So that's a little too fast. Let's go down a little bit.

App reading: Do since those were the grades I told at the time. The school had a need for more tech

Still fast, but, you know, you can keep on changing it here into a pace that makes sense.

App reading: Technological integration across all grade levels missing. (Pause)

And then a cool thing about this is that you can also decide to keep this, if it was something that you want to keep for your notes. You can save it. You can also export it somewhere else. You can do lots of pictures. It's all up to you and how you want to do that. But yeah, there you go!

Thank you so much Mrs. Dinh for coming today to our vlog and describing how these tools work. If you love what you have just watched, be sure to share the joy and share this on your social media, or comment below if you have thoughts on it. We will see you next time. Yes, bye! bye!
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Jan Flowers

Learn more about our Instructional Technologist

Christine Dinh graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She earned her Master's degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Houston. A huge proponent of the "can-do" attitude, Christine believes that children can excel at anything – they just sometimes need a helping hand to guide and support them. Christine has had the opportunity to "wear many hats" at The Joy School. She worked with upper elementary and middle school students in one-on-one and small group settings as a resource teacher and worked as a language arts and self-contained classroom teacher for third through fifth grades. She became The Joy School's first Instructional Technologist in 2015 to assist both teachers and students in integrating technology into their classrooms. A native Houstonian (and now resident of Katy), Christine enjoys spending time with her family, arranging monthly family game nights, reading and working on various arts and crafts.

Degrees Held

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin

Master of Education from University of Houston