Accessible editions of ‘Cursed Child’ published for dyslexic and blind readers

Harry Potter Dyslexia Edition

We’re really excited to let you know that the RNIB have added ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’ to the RNIB Library in both Braille and Giant Print. It’s a great milestone for people with sight loss as it will allow them to read the latest Harry Potter story at that same time as everyone else. RNIB have also announced that they will be releasing a Talking Book version very soon. You can find out more about the accessible editions of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’ by following this link to the RNIB website.

Accessible edition of Cursed Child for dyslexia and sight loss

Another publisher has also announced that they will be publishing a dyslexia-friendly edition of the book in September. This will be published using specialist fonts and paper based on research from the British Dyslexia Association and University of South Wales.

To find out more about ordering your accessible copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’, please follow this link to read the full story on The Bookseller.

Ghotit Version 5 Software to Support Dyslexia

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5

This month, we have launched Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 5 on dyslexic.com – a brand new version of the reading and writing software which supports individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other learning disabilities. If you would like to find out more about the software and how it could help you, please comment on our blog below!

 

What is Ghotit Real Writer and Reader?

Ghotit LogoGhotit Real Writer and Reader is assistive technology software that helps people overcome many of the common issues that are faced whilst writing text. It includes patented technology which provides the most appropriate corrections for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes by looking at the intended meaning of the piece of text.

 

What new features does version 5 bring?

The brand new version of Ghotit Real Writer and Reader brings a wealth of new features to help those with dyslexia to read and write:

  • Quick-spell word prediction with instant correction
  • Context-sensitive and phonetic spell checker to correct words such as ‘notest’ to ‘noticed’
  • Advanced grammar and punctuation corrector
  • Effective proof-reader
  • Speech feedback
  • Integrated English dictionary which supports US, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African English
  • Reading assistance with dual highlighting
  • Screenshot reader to read aloud any text on the screen to read text from images, locked PDF files and inaccessible documents
  • Word banks for word prediction based on different topics
  • Integration with all text editing applications
  • Standalone “Dyslexia Text Editor”

 

How does the software support dyslexic people?

The software is a great tool for those with dyslexia as it tackles many of the common problems that they may face whilst writing. This includes difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, proofing and accessing documents in different formats.

 

You can purchase the new software online by following this link to Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5 on dyslexic.com.

Dyslexia, Moving Letters, and a Local Chip Shop!

Image of a local chip shop demonstrating dyslexia and moving letters

Thank you to Martin who sent this photo in to dyslexic.com of his local ‘chippy’ – he begged the question as to whether this is a dyslexics worst nightmare or a dream come true. Would a simple play on words like changing ‘Fish and Chips’ to ‘Chish and Fips’ help someone with dyslexia tackle the problems of moving letters?

Image of a local chip shop demonstrating dyslexia and moving letters

Symptoms of Dyslexia

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people of all ages, races, backgrounds and abilities are dyslexic. Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which tends to affect reading and writing, spelling, expressing ideas, organisation, time management and more. You can find out more about dyslexia in a previous blog post on dyslexic.com as part of Dyslexia Awareness Week: What is Dyslexia and where can I find support?

 

Moving Letters

As part of the reading difficulties associated with dyslexia, many people may experience visual stress. This can include seeing letters which move or look like they are back to front, causing issues with letters such as ‘d’, ‘p’ or ‘q. In some cases, visual stress can cause significant problems with reading.

Earlier this year, Victor Widell developed an online simulation using code to demonstrate what a dyslexic reader may experience. Take a look by following this link to see what it may be like to read with dyslexia. It’s important to note that not every person with dyslexia will experience this difficulty and some people may not find that letters move at all when they read.

 

What Assistive Technology Can Help With Moving Letters?

Colour plays a major part when looking to reduce the effects of visual stress. Using coloured paper such as Irlen Pukka Pads or applying Irlen Coloured Overlays over printed text often help dyslexics with visual stress. The choice of text colour used on a white background can also affect visual stress. On Dyslexic.com, we have advanced accessibility options which allow you to change both the text and background colour on our website to one that helps you with reading. (To access this, please follow the ‘Accessibility’ link at the top of the page)

 

Do you think the name of this chip shop would help you read the shop sign? Or would it make it more difficult. It’s all down to your individual preferences so there is no right or wrong answer – please comment below to let us know what you think.

Latest Assistive Technology: Top 5 products in June 2016

Scanning Pens

It can sometimes be difficult to keep up to date with the latest assistive technology products for disabled people. This is why we have created a handy update on the dyslexic.com blog at the beginning of each month to give you the latest news. In this month’s update, I look at the top 5 latest assistive technology products you should look out for in June 2016.

 

Top 5 latest assistive technology products

Many of you have been enquiring about the Exam Reader scanning pen in the past month – we’re not surprised as it really is a great tool for dyslexic students. Like the C-Pen Reader scanning pens, the Exam Reader allows the student to scan over printed text from the exam paper and hear the text read aloud. It features a natural sounding text-to-speech voice and uses impressive optical character recognition (OCR) technology to read aloud printed text.

The latest assistive technology C-Pen scanning pen being used on an exam paper

The digital highlighter has been approved by The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) for use in exams. It comes complete with a headphone jack so other students are not disturbed during the exam. You can find out more about using assistive technology in exams by following this link to the Joint Council for Qualifications Examination Instructions.

Brain in Hand is a cloud-based solution and app which supports autistic children and adults to cope with day-to-day situations. The assistive technology app works on a subscription basis (please contact us for more information and pricing) and provides personalised support for people with autism. The key features include instant access to coping strategies, a diary to help structure time and plans to remember difficult tasks.

Brain in Hand also has a traffic light monitoring system which tracks anxiety levels. If an autistic person taps the red traffic light they will be able to request support from The National Autistic Society. This helps reduce stress and helps to increase confidence in everyday situations.

The Livescribe pens have always been a great tool for dyslexic students. The latest addition to the range is the Livescribe 3 Smartpen which is compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices. The pen works in conjunction with the Livescribe+ app and instantly syncs everything you write on paper directly to your mobile device via Bluetooth. Using the app, your notes become more useful and can be organised, tagged, searched and converted to text. From there you can do almost anything with your notes, for example, simply tap on the text and you can copy this into an email or message.

Typing tutors helps dyslexic children and adults to type quickly and accurately. Nessy Fingers Touch Typing incorporates 9 fun games to practice typing skills. It is the only typing tutor software which introduces keys alphabetically. In five short lessons, you will learn the alphabet.  Each game uses the National Curriculum word lists to practice with and allows the user to win trophies as a reward for accurate typing.

A dyslexic user typing with the latest assistive technology on their computer

Changing paper colour or using reading overlays for dyslexia can be a great reading aid. Irlen® Overlays are backed by over 30 years of research and are 9” x 12” coloured acetate overlays. The overlays are placed over printed materials to help reading and each sheet has a glare and non-glare side for increasing comfort.

The overlays are available in 10 colours and each colour has been carefully determined by Irlen® research. On dyslexic.com, we sell 10 Irlen® Coloured Overlays at a sale price of just £19.99 (RRP: £29.99) which allows you to try out all colours and see which colour makes reading more comfortable for you.

 

Please comment below to let us know what latest assistive technology you are excited about this month.

Reading overlays for dyslexia and Irlen® Syndrome

Irlen

Reading overlays for dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome are a cost-effective tool to help with reading difficulties. In this blog post, we look at what dyslexia and Irlen® Syndrome is and how assistive technology such as Irlen Institute Overlays or reading software can help.

 

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects approximately 1 in 10 people of all ages and abilities. Dyslexic children and adults will often experience difficulties in their reading and writing. You can find out more about dyslexia by following this link to our previous blog post: What is dyslexia and where can I find support?

 

What is Irlen® Syndrome?

Irlen logoIrlen® Syndrome is a perceptual dysfunction which affects both children and adults of all ages and abilities. 12% of the general population are affected by Irlen® Syndrome, and up to 47% of these also have disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia and much more. Symptoms can include:

  • Light sensitivity – may experience discomfort in fluorescent light, sunlight and lights at night.
  • Difficulty judging distance – problems with special awareness and may find it difficult to cope with stairs, sport and driving.
  • Eye strain and headaches – may experience headaches and fatigue.
  • Contrast and colour sensitivity – problems with black print on a white background, bright colours and using a computer or tablet.
  • Inefficient reading – inability to develop reading skills due to skipping words and lines, slow reading rate and problems with tracking.
  • Distortions of print – problems with printed text moving, fading or blur.

More symptoms can be found by following this link to the Irlen East website. It is important to remember that Irlen® Syndrome is not caused by a problem with the eyes, but by the way the brain interprets the visual information sent from the eyes.

 

What assistive technology can help with reading for people with dyslexia or Irlen® Syndrome?

There is a variety of assistive technology software and hardware available which can support reading difficulties experienced by dyslexic people or those with Irlen® Syndrome. Many websites, including dyslexic.com, also have built in accessibility features on their website. This means that you can easily adjust font size and background colours to view the website in a way that suits you. (To change the accessibility settings on dyslexic.com, please follow the ‘Accessibility’ button in the main navigation bar).

ClaroView and ScreenRuler Suite software allows you to add a digital coloured overlay to your screen. This means that you can quickly adjust the coloured tint on all of your applications on your computer, which can help those who experience contrast and colour sensitivity. ClaroView also has the ability to add in a ruler across the screen which can have the contrast changed and the background coloured or greyed out. This helps if the individual struggles to track lines when reading.

Image of Irlen OverlaysChanging the paper colour or using reading overlays for dyslexia and those with Irlen® Syndrome can be a great help. The colour that works for you is on an individual basis – at dyslexic.com we stock a wide range of colours and brands, including Irlen® Institute Overlays and Pukka Pads. To find out which colour you need you can be screened at an Irlen Centre which will determine the severity of your situation. To find your nearest centre, please take a look at the Irlen® Centre website. Alternatively, you can purchase a pack of 10 Irlen® Institute Overlays for our sale price of just £19.99 (RRP: £29.99). This is a low-cost option and lets you try out all 10 colours from the Irlen® Institute.

 

Do you have dyslexia or Irlen® Syndrome? Comment below to let us know if changing colours has helped you!

Helping Your Student with Dyslexia Learn: 5 Strategies to Rely On

Teacher Teaching Lesson To Elementary School Pupils

The time spent in education is a significant part of a child’s development. As a teacher, aiding the growth of a dyslexic learner is a wonderful opportunity. Nonetheless,it can be a challenging task, and it’s important to remember that what makes a dyslexic learner struggle is neither a lack of intelligence nor willfulness.

Dyslexic students have a learning difference.Their brain can’t hold information as efficiently as non-dyslexics, often making their learning a slow, difficult, and at times impossible process.

However,with the guidance of a caring tutor – well-equipped with tried and tested strategies – dyslexic students are capable of learning and becoming high-achievers.

Here are 5 strategies you can apply in your classroom:

1) Multisensory Learning

Multisensory activities help dyslexic children absorb and process information in a retainable manner and involve using senses like touch and movement alongside sight and hearing.

They are not only beneficial for dyslexic learners but also the rest of the class. Engaging in something different and hands-on excites students and heightens engagement.

Examples of multi sensory activities for the classroom include:

  • Writing words and sentences with tactile materials,e.g. glitter glue, sand, pasta, LEGO, or beads.
  • Physical activities to practice spelling, e.g.hopscotch or jump-rope – the children spell out words when they jump to each square or over the rope. Students work in pairs and take turns to dictate words and spell them.
  • Scavenger hunts for letters and words – split students into teams and give them a word. Next, write letters onto notes and hide them around the classroom.The teams must find the letters to construct the assigned word and then glue them together on a poster by cutting out the letters

2) Assistive technology and tools

Pocket spell checkers

The dyslexic learner types in a word how they think it’s spelled, often phonetically, and the spell checker will return a correctly-spelled match. This helps the child strengthen their confidence in both writing and spelling and commit correct spellings to memory.

Line Readers

Aline reader magnifies and highlights the portion of text over which it is placed. This helps dyslexic readers move through a book or worksheet and keep their place easier, especially if they experience ‘swimming’ words: the surrounding sea of text will be less distracting.

Coloured keyboard

Keyboards with coloured overlays and larger letters make typing more accessible to dyslexic students. Some come with multimedia hotkeys that enable the user to play, pause, stop, or rewind audio, which is useful as dyslexic learners often use text-to-speech software when reading and writing.

When purchasing assistive technology for a dyslexic student, consider acquiring several for other students to share. This will lessen feelings of isolation or difference the dyslexic child may feel and prevents other students from feeling envious.

Image of students learning at school

3) Helpful Arrangements

Use a cloze procedure.

Give the dyslexic student a sheet containing key information that you’ll be covering throughout the lesson and blank out key words. The student can then take notes just like others without the stress of trying to copy everything before it’swiped off the board. This helps them focus and commit key information to memory.

Give them plenty of time to complete homework.

If a piece of homework takes a day to complete, distribute it on a Friday so that the dyslexic child has the whole weekend to work on it.

You could also let their parents know what the homework schedule is for the month,so they can start looking at certain topics with their child at home in advance.

Mark based on effort and ideas.

Dyslexic learners may be less skilled than their peers at spelling and grammar. However,if their thought process and creativity shine through the errors and it’s clear they’ve made an effort, this should be praised.

Highlight any major spelling errors using a green pen – nothing screams “WRONG” more than a teacher’s demotivating red pen!

4) Educational Games

The great thing about games designed for dyslexic students is that any learner can benefit from them, so you can easily incorporate them into lessons for the whole class. Nothing will excite your students more than playing games!

There are hundreds of educational apps and games for dyslexic learners available. High Speed Training and Dyslexic.com have a selection of apps which are available. Some excellent places that provide digital or physical games for the classroom include:

  • Nessy.com – Nessy offers a range of PC games that help learners understand the sounds that make up words – an area where dyslexics particularly struggle. Their colourful, cartoony style is appealing and engaging to kids.
  • Dyslexiagames.com – The workbooks available here are full of puzzles, 3D drawings, and reading activities, tailored to dyslexic learners’ strength: visual thinking.
  • Simplex Spelling – If you have iPads in your classroom,the apps in the Simplex Spelling series are an excellent choice. They help build up students’ understanding of phonics and how words are constructed. The series placed 3rd in the 2012 Best App Ever Awards – Best Elementary Student App.

5) Working together with parents

Meet with dyslexic students’ parents regularly to discuss how their child is doing and the strategies you’ve applied in the classroom. The child’s parents can also update you on what methods they’ve been using at home and what’s been successful.

Thisis important because, ultimately, no two dyslexic children are alike and thereis no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. By sharing knowledge about ongoing progress, both you and the parents can work together to find learning methods thats uccessfully aid the dyslexic student’s learning.

Image of the Author: Liz Burton, High Speed Training

Author Bio: Liz Burton works as Content Author at High Speed Training, a UK based online learning provider that offer business-related training courses. Liz has authored many courses, including the Dyslexia Awareness course designed to provide learners with the knowledge needed to offer their support to dyslexic children.

Reading Rulers

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There have been huge advances in technology over the past decade, allowing for increasingly powerful assistive software to be created to help people overcome literacy difficulties. Sometimes however, the most effective tool that can be used is not complicated software, but instead something much simpler.

One example of this applies to people who suffer from Visual Stress. A condition that makes black text on a white background difficult for a person to read. The words may seem to blur out of focus, or move around on the page. Consequently reading takes much longer and requires a much higher level of concentration, often leading to tiredness and headaches. It is an ailment that affects a wide range of people, but most of the individuals that we encounter with this particular complaint suffer from it as a result of Dyslexia.

Reading rulers are a perfect example of how a simple and inexpensive product can successfully overcome a complex difficulty such as the one described above. Reading Rulers are a colored transparent ruler that is placed over text that a person is reading, changing the background colour of the white page to that of the coloured ruler. It also has the additional benefit of providing a guideline of what part of the page a person is reading. This may seem like a menial addition. But it can make a huge difference to dyslexic readers who easily find themselves losing track of where they are on the page.

There is a range of products that allow the same process to happen whilst a person is using their computer. But one of the biggest appeals of Reading rulers is the fact that a great deal of material an individual needs to read is still printed. Reading rulers offer a solution to this. One that combines effectiveness with simplicity.

The benefits of apps for Dyslexic people

The use of phones and tablets has recently expanded to a size that would have been unimaginable when the first iPad was launched in April 2010. In the preceding six years mobile devices have overtaken laptops or desktops as the most popular method of using the web and a huge range of actions that once required expensive computer software can now be carried out through the use of relatively cost effective apps. With over 1.5 million apps available for download on the Apple app store alone, there is a bewildering amount of choice available to each user. As you would expect, some of these apps have been designed to help those with dyslexia. There is a range of different solutions, each offering something slightly different from the others.

One of the largest advantages offered by using apps as a method of assisting with difficulties caused by dyslexia is the portability of the software. Previously accessibility software required a computer to work, and although laptops are transportable, simply using your phone allows you to access an accessibility solution wherever you are. In addition to this, using apps on your mobile device offers a level of discretion has not been previously available. As the sight of a person using a phone or tablet has become so common the regular passerby would have no indication that an individual was using assistive technology.

An important factor when designing an app is to make it as user-friendly as possible. Often designers and developers will spend a great deal of time altering the functionality and layout so that the app can be as simple to use as possible. As a result of this, most apps are highly intuitive and so do not require any training in order to use them, unlike more complicated assistive technology software that is designed for computer operating systems.

Finally, one of the most prominent of the benefits of using Apps is that they are often more affordable than software designed for standard computers. The main reason for this is because of the amount of functionality that an app can contain. As an app is a small file, each app has a limited amount of functionality, as a result, most apps aim to carry out a small selection of processes, whereas computer software with its greater storage space has the ability to contain a much larger range of processes and functions. Of Course, this can be seen in both a positive and a negative light. Apps are normally very affordable but are limited to how much they can do. If you are looking for a piece of software that offers a variety of functions to help you, then computer software might be better for you. However if you are looking for a programme that will carry out one or two functions, ten apps are an excellent option.

Rachel Ingham: How does ClaroRead benefit dyslexic learners?

This is an image of Rachel InghamBy Rachel Ingham, Dyslexia (SpLD Consultant)

@RInghamUSL

The obvious benefits of using text to voice software, such as ClaroRead, need little explanation. It reads Word and PowerPoint documents, emails, the Internet and EBooks. This provides a wealth of educational and career benefits as well as providing a way to make reading a pleasure. However, like most technology, it can be underutilised. I would like to share some of the ways I have used ClaroRead to increase the learning potential for children and young people in the classroom. Its benefits in the workplace will follow in a future blog.

There were some compensations for being a teacher with dyslexia. One of them being I understood the difficulties of learning to read and the frustrations of being unable to read and comprehend in order to write and learn. Although I loved literature, the effort of reading lessened the pleasure and reduced the number of books I was able to read as reading was so laborious.

ClaroRead breaks down the barriers for the learner with dyslexic related reading difficulties by reading the unfamiliar words that cannot be easily decoded. It allows learners of all ages to independently access more complex informative text increasing the inclusive learning environment for individual or collaborative class based tasks. This independence allows the learner to choose areas of particular interest, motivating and enthusing them to research subjects further.

Problems with phonological processing for the learner with dyslexia are a well documented cause of reading difficulties. These difficulties can be ameliorated with good teaching increasing reading fluency and accuracy. Despite this, comprehension is often still negatively affected because of the level of cognitive processing required to decode, inhibiting the reader’s ability to gain a full understanding of the text. When text is read aloud the listener does not have to focus on the decoding, providing greater opportunity for comprehension and critical assessment of the information being studied.

Less understood are the problems relating to language and language development in the learner with dyslexia. ClaroRead provides the opportunity for the vital exposure to new words, often subject related, that are not commonly used in speech. Without the facility of accessing reading material with automaticity, the dyslexic learner’s vocabulary development is impaired which, in turn, affects their communication and writing skills.

A perpetual problem for some readers with dyslexia is the interference of other voices making it difficult to read with comprehension. With ClaroRead, the busy classroom is no longer an inhibitory factor as the learner can listen to the text through headphones. In addition, this provides an advantage of their hands being free to record the relevant data without losing their place in the text and thus enabling them to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.

One of the greatest benefits of ClaroRead is as a proof reader. Learners, particularly those with dyslexia and or visual stress, miss many spelling errors and grammatical mistakes despite their dedicated efforts to seek them out. ClaroRead reads exactly what is written so the writer can hear what they have written ‘Brian breaks reduce stress in the learner’ instead of ‘Brain breaks reduce stress in the learner.’ It can also identify homophones which is crucial for the proof reader with dyslexia who is often unsure which homophone is the correct option. Picture or context descriptors help the homophone selection.

Not only is this a more effective method of proof reading, it is less arduous for the writer who has already put considerable effort into engaging with the difficult skill of committing their ideas to paper.

I often wonder if this history student would have recognised their mistake if they had used ClaroRead.

“It was important for the king to have the support of the no balls in court …”

Another advantage of ClaroRead for proof reading is that you can slow the voice of the reader supporting the slower verbal processing skills of the learner with dyslexia. Slowing the speed at which ClaroRead reads has an added advantage of providing time to record notes and to critically think about the reading material. Notes recorded for revision purposes can be revisited repeatedly without the constraints imposed by reading.

Everyone benefits from the use of ClaroRead in the classroom. Firstly, the learners are able to read more complex, informative text and gain more knowledge and understand with increased confidence. ClaroRead creates independence by reducing the anxiety and embarrassment caused by having to ask classmates and friends for help. Class discussion and collaborative learning settings are a lot more rewarding for all involved. Secondly, the teacher has a more inclusive classroom with engaged learners who can make independent progress.

We have discussed academic advantages and will close by acknowledging the positive aspect of being able to read for pleasure. To enhance this further the listener can choose the accent they would prefer, Heather from Scotland being a particular soothing choice. There are times when learners are required to learn to read and others when we should create the opportunity to enjoy literature without a needless struggle.

Dyslexia and Visual Stress: What assistive technology can help?

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Visual stress can range from blurred letters or words, letters which move, headaches or difficulty with tracking across the page. It is a common difficulty amongst those with dyslexia. Thankfully, there are tools that can help reduce this difficulty and in turn can help with reading, and a lot of these are extremely low cost!

Many people with dyslexia can be sensitive when it comes to reading off of a white background. Simply changing the background colour can make such a difference. Pukka Pads have released a range of lined notebooks (available to purchase in a single pack or 6 pack) which are specifically designed for people who struggle writing on bright white paper. They come in a range of six Irlen Institute colours: Gold, Green, Lavender, Parrot, Rose and Turquoise. Buy online from Dyslexic.com by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1lIqDZQ

Other tools that help with reading off of a white background include coloured overlays. These are tinted plastic pages or rulers (available in a range of colours and sizes) which are placed over text to help reduce the glare and make the text easier to read. Some people can benefit from these greatly and our value multi-packs are a great way to find the right colour to help you. These include 10 Irlen Coloured Overlays and can be purchased by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1RNpnR1

We also stock Eye Lighter Reading Rulers in 4 colours which are a great alternative to full A4 coloured overlays. These reading rulers are small, discrete and will fit inside a child’s pencil case for use in the classroom. Like overlays, these can be placed over text to help make it easier to read. However, these can also be used to help with tracking across the page – due to the small size, it prevents readers losing their place. The Eye Lighter Reading Rulers can be purchased by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1As3AnL

For more advice on visual stress and dyslexia, please visit the British Dyslexia Association’s Eyes and Dyslexia page >> http://ian.lt/1NszSE9