Assistive technology helps dyslexic students save time and overcome challenges, such as difficulty reading, slow note-taking, poor handwriting, and more, allowing them to demonstrate their abilities in a wide variety of settings.
For technology questions, you can reach out to your campus dyslexia specialist, your campus instructional technologist, or the HPISD Assistive Technology Coordinator, Amanda Rutherford (Ruthera@HPISD.com). See Dyslexia in HPISD for current dyslexia contact information.
Some apps that have been used recently in HPISD include
Co:Writer Chrome Extension Co:Writer helps give you the words and phrases you're intending as you type—even if your grammar and spelling are way off. Just type a letter or two and Co:Writer “predicts” words and phrases in real time. (Tutorial here)
Immersive Reader for Chrome Allows your computer to read aloud anything that you can pull up on Chrome (Tutorial here)
Read&Write for Chrome Text to Speech for computer text, screenshots and more (Learn more)
Inquire to understand what is available from the district for your student and to make sure that use of district technology is included in your student’s IEP / 504 plan and is allowed for classwork, quizzes, tests, etc.
Also, if your student has an accommodation for audiobooks, ask at the beginning of each year for a list of textbooks and how to access the audio for each of them. Make sure your student can access the audio and knows how it works. Options provided by the district include:
Online textbooks (functionality of audio options varies widely; ensure your student can access)
Bookshare (parents often pair with Voice Dream Reader app for variety of voices, speeds, etc)
Students served by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) via special education can have a separate assistive technology evaluation, which identifies the student’s needs and also what technology could support the student. As part of the implementation, the assistive technology staff can provide training to the student, parents, and teachers on how to use the technology. Read more
Learning Ally is an extensive library of human-read audiobooks that is provided at no cost to children with dyslexia via Texas public schools. All students who are identified as dyslexic by HPISD should have an account, and most books assigned to students are on Learning Ally. (Multiple platforms)
Bookshare is a free audiobook service for students who are dyslexic or have a learning disability significantly interferes with reading. Students often access their Bookshare audiobooks via the Voice Dream Reader app, which allows students to customize their reading experience with audio + highlighted text, large font, varying speeds, and multiple computerized voice options. Bookshare is ideal for older students who need to complete a greater volume of reading, often from textbooks, and need to increase the speed of the audiobook but still retain clear pronunciation.
Students can qualify for Bookshare by showing proof of a Learning Ally membership (provided free by HPISD) or educational testing from a competent authority. (Multiple platforms)
Your one stop shop for high-quality, customizable text-to-speech! 60+ free voice options, synchronized highlighting, connects to Google Drive & more, reads PDFs & more…and always easy to access on your phone! Voice Dream Reader is also the most recommended app to access audiobooks from Bookshare. (iOS only)
This is an application similar to Learning Ally, but is a partnership between Texas and the Library of Congress. If you can’t find a book on Learning Ally, especially newer books, it may be available on BARD. Your campus dyslexia specialist will need to fill out a form for you to have access to this program.
Wide-ranging, current collection of audiobooks for all ages. Students must purchase per book or via on-going subscription. (Multiple platforms)
Need help reading a printed worksheet or physical textbook? The PrizmoGo app scans pages in seconds and then is ready to read out loud. (iOS only)
Text to Speech for computer text, screenshots and more
For assistance reading text on your screen, you can have your Mac speak the text whenever you press a key or set of keys.
Simplifies reading on screen to only text and removes clutter of ads and menus
Spelling and grammar check software to support writing independently for assignments and emails (free and premium versions). (Multiple platforms and integrated with several web browsers).
A simple way to complete any school worksheet on your iPad or Tablet. Helpful for students with handwriting challenges.
Graphic organizer to help students plan and visualize ideas for writing assignments, projects, etc.
Online mind mapping tool to capture, develop and share ideas visually. Web-based so works on all platforms. Helps students plan and visualize ideas for writing assignments, projects, etc.
Siri on Apple Devices
Use Siri to dictate instead of type. Students can learn shortcuts for punctuation and formatting as well. Read more… (link)
Voice Typing in Google Docs
Find in the “Tools” menu on Google Docs
Any scanning app that uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will create PDFs that can be read out loud by an app like Voice Dream Reader (above). Below is one suggestion, but many scanning apps have OCR.
Scan multiple pages with OCR, auto-save to Google Drive and/or open in Voice Dream Reader
Explanations & practice question for math
Explanations & practice question for math
Note Taking / Audio Recording Apps
Smartpen that takes digital notes & records audio that is synced to notes
Records audio and creates corresponding written transcript with timestamps
Records audio that is synced to notes taken during lecture / take & organize notes
Type, draw, or record notes in a digital notebook
Take and organize notes and audio recordings
Sonocent Audio Note Taker / Glean
Audio-notetaker incorporating audio, notes, slides, etc. Common way for college accommodation offices to provide a “note taker” accommodation via technology.
Flashcards with audio & photos. Can add custom photos from teacher notes, record audio, make diagrams, etc.
Software & Assistive Technology
University of Michigan's list of software programs and assistive devices helpful to people with dyslexia
10 Helpful Text-to-Speech Readers for Back to School
University of Michigan's list of most helpful text-to-speech software and applications