Rachel Ingham: How does ClaroRead benefit dyslexic learners?

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


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.

C-Pen Reader and Exam Reader launched on Dyslexic.com


This week, we launched the brand new C-Pen Reader and Exam Reader on Dyslexic.com! These scanning devices are small, portable and lightweight, and designed to support those with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, or those learning English as a second language.

The C-Pen Reader allows the user to simply run the pen across any printed text, whether that is from books, newspapers or printed labels. This text will then be read aloud from a naturally speaking British English text-to-speech engine, allowing pronunciations of words to be heard. This is useful for those who struggle reading large pieces of text as they can use the pen to read this aloud to them. The integrated electronic dictionary allows the user to scan a word and have the definition displayed and read aloud. The C-Pen Reader saves words that you have looked up previously, so the history is available for you. It also contains a highly accurate optical character recognition (OCR) engine which enables you to capture printed text and save this instantly. The text can be transferred to your PC or Mac and converted into editable text. Follow this link to find out more about the C-Pen Reader >> http://ian.lt/1SVqn4l

The C-Pen Exam Reader has been approved by The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) for use in exams. This allows students to independently take exams knowing that they can read and understand the questions and any additional text. Like the C-Pen Reader, the C-Pen Exam Reader allows students to run the pen across the printed exam question and instantly hear this read aloud in a naturally speaking British English text-to-speech engine. Follow this link to find out more about the C-Pen Exam Reader >> http://ian.lt/20Z7u5X

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Text-to-Speech Software

Text-to-speech enables your computer to read aloud web pages, text documents, emails and PDF documents in a natural sounding voice. Some software now includes additional tools such as spell checkers, homophone support and visual highlighting that can help when producing your own written work.

Those with dyslexia often find that text-to-speech software provides significant support if they struggle with reading or digesting text on the computer screen. Hearing text being read aloud in a natural sounding voice also helps dyslexic people proof-read their own written work. For some people it is much easier to hear the mistakes than see them.

Most importantly, text-to-speech software can offer those with dyslexia a high degree of independence when it comes to reading and writing.

What software is available?

There are different types of text-to-speech software available, all of which can be purchased from Dyslexic.com.

ClaroRead is a simple toolbar that sits at the top of the computer screen and will read aloud any on-screen text in Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, emails and many other applications. It contains visual highlighting to help users follow the text as it is read aloud, word prediction feature, homophone checker, coloured overlays and much more. It is available to purchase as a box copy or digital download (instant product sent via email), and for Windows and Mac. Find out more about ClaroRead by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1MTZiMy

Read&Write is an easy-to-use toolbar that provides speech feedback, phonetic spell checking and many other literacy support tools to help with reading and writing. It also contains written and picture dictionaries to help understand the meanings of tricky words and homophones, translation tool, screen masking and word prediction feature. It is available to purchase as a digital download or as a USB, and for Windows and Mac. Find out more about Read&Write by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1L1AWOe

Kurzweil 3000 is a powerful text-to-speech and literacy support tool that enables users to convert printed text documents into accessible electronic formats. This can then be read aloud by a natural sounding voice. It comes with dual highlighting (highlights a sentence, line or phrase in one colour, and each word in another colour to help improve reading performance), translation feature, word prediction and much more. It is available to purchase as a box copy for Windows and Mac. Find out more about Kurzweil 3000 >> http://ian.lt/1L1HUTe

Penfriend gives dyslexic users the confidence to write more, the accuracy to write what they mean, and the speed to write more in the time available. It contains text-to-speech functionality to read aloud words on the screen, including words that haven’t been typed yet. It also features word prediction, using a dictionary of known words, to help the user with writing. Penfriend XL adds additional functionality in native languages. It is available as a box copy for Windows. Find out more about Penfriend by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1hli83P