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Are E-Readers Helpful for Dyslexia?

| November 2, 2010 | 6 Comments
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Flickr:ChirantanPatnaik

By Sara Bernard

The many bells and whistles of e-readers are fun to use, but for dyslexics, they can be essential tools for basic reading.

For example, the book reader for the iPad has a text-to-speech feature built in called VoiceOver and the Intel Reader can take pictures of text and convert it into audio files within seconds. Readers can then choose the speed of playback for those audio files, helping them sound out words they’re struggling with.

E-readers with built-in dictionary features can also help readers quickly see the pronunciation and the order of syllables in a word. And readers can customize reading modes, such as font, size, and color. “All the books I’ve found so far tend to be on white, but there’s an option to make it a dark yellow which is good for me,” notes one member of an online forum.

There’s even an iPad and iPhone app called “Tips and Tricks for Beating Adult Dyslexia” includes general information about diagnosis, techniques for dealing with symptoms, and first-person stories.

Still, there’s little significant research to date that supports the claim that e-readers help students with disabilities — it’s primarily anecdotal evidence so far, since all of this is so new. An article in Education Week explores the use of e-readers in special-needs education and concludes that “the jury’s still out.”

This might be because some students might need to rely on the physical pages to skim headings and subheadings quickly to organize their thoughts, one researcher says.

But the advantages are clear to those who use them – students show independence without help from adults. According to one teacher, “It is not only liberating for the kids, but also liberating for the teachers.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Typ-O-Writing-is-for-everybody/170439792978290 Anders Sewerin

    You might want to check out our new writing aid for dyslexics: Typ-O.

    Basically it gives you a more forgiving word prediction and a workflow that integrates text-to-speech, so you can check your words before you enter them into the text.

    Typ-O on the app store (iPad):
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/typ-o-hd-writing-is-for-everybody/id372971659?mt=8

    Typ-O on the app store (iPhone/iPod Touch):
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/typ-o/id370829089?mt=8

    Review:
    http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com/2010/08/typ-o-hd-tts-word-prediction-app.html

    Typ-O on Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Typ-O-Writing-is-for-everybody/170439792978290

  • Diane

    I hope the educators, reading disability specialists and ereader companies can work on something to provide colored backgrounds for dyslexics. Ereaders could have great potential in helping those with reading disabilities. As a mother of a son with a reading disablilty, I would rather he not get everything read to him but to help him at the height of frustration would be ok.

  • Tiredtokar

    I am with you! I have been looking for an E-reader for my son but he needs a green over lay. You would think with all of the options these things come with, and the numerous manufacturers that are producing them, there would be something better. I e-mailed kindle at amazon because I have heard that they are the leaders and got an automated response that took key words from my e-mail. I was obvious that it was computer generated because it had nothing to do with my original E-mail.

  • Anne

    I am dyslexic and since I got an ipad and kindle I went from not reading anything for fun to reading 10  novels in 6 monthes.  I read 4 of Ken Follett’s huge novels.   The font size and back lighting makes it so I read witout getting tired of reading.  I have never read for fun in my life until now and I am 44 years old.

  • Anne

    I am dyslexic and since I got an ipad and kindle I went from not reading anything for fun to reading 10  novels in 6 monthes.  I read 4 of Ken Follett’s huge novels.   The font size and back lighting makes it so I read witout getting tired of reading.  I have never read for fun in my life until now and I am 44 years old.

    • Fiona

      Hi Anne,
      Do you prefer the Ipad or the Kindle for your reading, with regards to your dyslexia ?
      Thanks for your time