It is of particular interest to note that candidates who qualify for a reader can use Text to Speech software for all subjects, including some for which they cannot have a human reader, e.g. English, Welsh and foreign language GCSEs; Welsh and foreign language A-levels and Functional Skills English assessments. The schools need to record evidence that it is the candidates’ ‘normal way of working’.
Structured synthetic phonics teaching is essential. After that, masses of reading experience is vital. The Literacy Toolbox provides hundreds of short texts, with comprehension and dictation options as well.
updated pages Cheryl Dobbs has done a major revision of our Apps page for all facilities that support dyslexia. She has added some, deleted a few, and revised the description and comments on most of the items.
There is now an iPad app for the first stage, First Steps, of Teach Your Monster to Read. The review of the first two stages was uploaded in May 2014, in Word and PDF formats.
A blog was posted on 10 April 2014, about a senior Microsoft Assistive Technology staff member. He helped two dyslexic workers, but he learned about the software for his own benefit, as well as showing it to them.
One worker chose ClaroRead and the other chose Read & Write. That underlines our view that there is no single best program for any task.
They both personalised the font in MS Outlook and MS Word to blue Comic Sans and double spacing, but again, that would not suit everyone.
‘Teach your monster to read’ is an excellent on-line, free, early literacy games program for Windows and Mac, with an app coming soon. It is sponsored by the Usborne Foundation.
Children will learn to read letter-sounds and some letter-groups, relevant regular words and some tricky words, in a wide variety of fun activities. They include sentence work for comprehension. Adult supervisors can monitor progress and reinforce off-screen if necessary, as the children complete the whole journey.
Publishers and suppliers provide a lot of training and support. They have open days and workshops for prospective customers and for users of their products. They also have videos and guideline documents online.
Some of them are listed on our Events page. Do ask for help and information, to use all aspects of your software and devices to their full extent.
Two pupils in the B.D.A. Children Will Shine project in Peterborough are making good use of a Jolly Phonics Extra kit with a Talking Pen. The specialist teacher in charge, Jacqueline Swift, reports their enjoyment. More comments come from a pupil and teacher in the Wirral. See the Word and PDF versions.
The Talking Pen holds human voice audio files of the letter-sounds, words, instructions, flash cards, stories and reading books in the kit.
It is good that there are now so many mainstream devices that support dyslexic users.
Recent research suggests that dyslexic people find reading easier on iPods etc. It is logical that if there are only 2 or 3 words on a line, you only have to move your eyes downwards, not along the lines as well. The researchers point out that this will not teach reading skills.
A new page, Writing for TTS, gives details of ways for you to make text easier for listening with Text to Speech software.
It starts with a 10-point list published in B.D.A. Dyslexia Contact magazine, September 2013.
Then there is a long account of details, reasons and samples for you to try with your own TTS, in HTML format, with links to identical Word and PDF versions, because the voices operate slightly differently in these formats.
And finally, there is a summary of all the items as briefly as possible.
A sixth former uses her i-Pad (everyone in Year 12 was given one by the school) to take a photo of the whiteboard in lessons when the teacher has finished writing on it. Then she can listen carefully without having to take notes and missing some of the detail.
She also photographs worksheets, coursework etc. She has very well organised folders on her i-pad and also uses it to take notes and write her answers in class. She then regularly e-mails everything to herself and prints it off or files it.
She only takes one A4 notebook into school and uses it for all 4 subjects that she is studying. When the notes are full she pulls the pages out and files these into individual subject folders at home. Her teachers were doubtful at first but now love the idea.
She always has her notes etc. to hand on the i-Pad and so is rarely caught out.
A teacher has been allowing students in the sixth form to take a photo with their mobile phones of the whiteboard when she has written notes etc. on it. She then tells them to Twitter anyone who isn’t in the lesson, and Twitters it herself so that everyone can see the board.
Sight and Sound Technology to Support Isle of Man School Literacy Initiative.
The initiative, which is jointly funded by The Department of Education and Children (EDC) and The Department of Economic Development (DED) of the Isle of Man Government, aims to provide a solution to students who require assistance in reading, writing and learning, with the main goal of the initiative being to improve grade attainment and employment prospects of students on the island.
Sight and Sound Technology will provide ongoing support to students and teachers on a day-to-day basis through their assistive technology help desk, at the company’s headquarters in Northampton.
The initiative will provide all schools on the island with Kurzweil 3000, a best in class literacy support screen reader application that supports learners in reading, writing, organisation and other activities of their study. Students will have access to the software at home and also be able to access the latest “Cloud” (internet) based version of Kurzweil 3000 called “firefly”.
The DEC’s five secondary schools will also be provided with Dragon Naturally Speaking – a digital dictation solution that integrates with Kurzweil 3000, enabling students to perform tasks on their computer through speech recognition.
The initiative aims to improve students’ skills for employment and achievement in later life.