Apps wheel


CALL Scotland has produced a ‘wheel’ of apps for dyslexia learners and users who have reading and writing difficulties, as an A3 poster.

You can see or down-load the poster as a PDF file. Note that all the app titles have links to iTunes pages.

Many of the items are included on B.D.A. tech page of Apps.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. November 2013.
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Mobile technology


Kevin Brunton has revised our page about Mobile Technology.

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.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. September 2013.
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Samples for TTS


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.

Happy listening!

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. September 2013.
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TTS exam update


Malcolm Litten has written an update article about dyslexic pupils using text to speech in GCSE English examinations.

Malcolm relates the experiences of four schools, and urges all schools to take up this option for dyslexic pupils who are entitled to a human reader in examinations.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. September 2013.
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Dyslexic use of an iPad

A teacher reports on senco-forum:

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.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. August 2013.
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DSA consultation

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued a consultation about targeted support in Higher Education, mainly the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) The deadline was 31 May 2013.

The New Technologies Committee sent a response about the hardware, software and training that dyslexic students in Higher Education may, or should receive, and the administration of this provision.

See the responses from BATA and from Ability Magazine.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. June 2013.
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Music A.T.


B.D.A. book “Music, other Performing Arts and Dyslexia” has many examples of assistive technology for music. We have put brief details of software, including apps, in a new page, Music Technology.

B.D.A. web has general information about music and dyslexia, and a free guide for music teachers.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. April 2013.
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A.T. in Isle of Man schools

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.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. April 2013.
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Greg Brooks’ scheme update


The Dyslexia SpLD Trust has published the fourth edition of “What Works for Pupils with Literacy Difficulties? The Effectiveness of Intervention Schemes” by Greg Brooks.

It provides information on research evidence for successful intervention schemes for children who struggle with reading and writing, i.e. they are not initial and/or preventive schemes.

Look out for the schemes that produced ‘remarkable gains’. There are new sections for interventions at the time of transition from primary to secondary school, and with school age offenders.

Some of the schemes involve technology.
Page 18.
I.C.T. approaches work best when they are precisely targeted.
Implication: The mediation of a skilled adult is essential to ensure technologically driven schemes meet children’s needs. Time needs to be allocated effectively so that the diagnostic tools of programmes can be used for each child appropriately.

Schemes that involve technology.

3.1. A.R.R.O.W. (Aural – Read – Respond – Oral – Write).
3.2. Academy of Reading.
3.3. AcceleRead AcceleWrite.
3.6. Catch Up Literacy. Support materials include Digital Games.
3.8. Easyread.
3.12. Lexia.
3.25. THRASS (Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills).
3.32. Rapid Plus.
4.5.6. Wordshark 4.

The pdf file is on the Dyslexia SpLD Trust web.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. April 2013.
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Free ‘Speak’ for Office


CALL Scotland has written a guide to a well-hidden free Text to Speech facility in Microsoft Office 2010. It can speak selected text in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Anyone who wants to listen to a lot is likely to prefer software with synchronised hi-liting, but this best kept secret would be particularly good for hearing occasional words.

The guide explains how to put a good-sized icon on the Ribbon.

To add a small icon for ‘Speak’ to the Quick Access Toolbar at the top of the Word screen:

  • Click on the tiny icon ‘Customise Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Choose ‘More Commands’.
  • In ‘Choose Commands from’, choose ‘All Commands’.
  • In the big window called ‘Separator’, scroll down to find ‘Speak’ and click on it.
  • Click on ‘Add’ in the middle of the screen to put it in your Quick Access Toolbar contents on the right.
  • Click on OK.

Then, in your document, highlight text, click on the ‘Speak Selected Text’ icon and it will read it aloud.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. February 2013.
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Load2Learn webinar

The Load2Learn project by Dyslexia Action and the R.N.I.B., now joined by Dolphin Computer Access, and supported by the Department of Education, hosted a free online webinar at 7pm on Thursday 21 February 2013.

For school staff, who are helping struggling readers, using Load2Learn and Free or Low-Cost technology.

Get a crash course in how to:

  • Modify Word documents and PDFs to be more accessible;
  • Structure Word documents and PDFs for easier navigation and increased productivity;
  • Make audio versions of documents with free text-to-speech tools and cheap high-quality synthetic voices.

Load2Learn now has accessible versions of over 2000 textbooks, free for schools that have bought the printed versions, to sign up and download to use with print-disabled pupils.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. January 2013.
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B.D.A. new books

The British Dyslexia Association has published 11 books.

PDF files are available for purchasers of the printed versions.

You can buy ten of the books as a set:

or individually (£15). The titles are:

Of particular interest for I.C.T. information are:

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. January 2013.
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Mind-maps

Mindmapping is a tool which helps some visual dyslexic individuals to organise their ideas. Jottings, with images if wanted, can be displayed as a mind map or concept map and converted to a text outline. This can be developed into an essay or report and imported into a word processor. The mindmap can be used for presentation or revision purposes.

WriteOnline Workspace

WriteOnline Workspace

This new article discusses:

  • Choosing mapping tools.
    • Research with children.
  • Uses for mapping software.
    • Brainstorming.
    • Visual display of information.
    • Outlining.
    • Multiple applications.
  • Pros and cons of computer based maps.
    • Handwritten maps.
    • Computer based maps.

B.D.A. Tech page on Mindmapping includes many suggestions for software.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. November 2012.
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Free Resources

We have completely revised our Freeware Products page. The items are a small selection of the vast range of available applications, mainly Windows-based rather than Android or Apple Apps, or interactive programs. There are suggestions for:

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1. Portable USB Pen drive (flash drive) software.
2. Downloadable software.
3. Planning, Organisation and Time Management.
4. Writing.
5. Reading.
6. Calculators.
7. Working on the web.

Do explore the Freeware Resources, let us know which ones you like, and about other freeware which suit your requirements.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. November 2012.
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iPad help

Craig Mills and his colleagues from CALL Scotland have written and published an iPad book to support learners and users with additional support needs: iPads for Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning (iCALL).

The book is free to download as a pdf file from CALL Scotland or you can buy a paper copy for a very reasonable £7.50. The book includes chapters on:

Getting to grips with the iPad.
Apps to support teaching & learning.
Accessibility Options.
iPad Accessories.
iPad Resources.
iPad in Assessments and Exams.
Managing & Implementing the iPad.
Glossary of Terms.
iPad Management using iTunes: some useful tips.

© BDA New Technologies Committee. September 2012.
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Ghotit for Mac


Ghotit PunctuationGhotit Real-Writer, is a very simple editor with most basic functions and big buttons. It includes text-to-speech and word-prediction, and corrects spelling, grammar and punctuation as in Ghotit for Windows.

Ghotit CorrectionSystem requirements are Mac OS X 10.5 and higher with Intel CPU. Spelling correction requires Internet connection.

Ghotit PredictionPrice for an annual single-computer licence is £99 or £17 per month.

See B.D.A. tech page Spell Checkers.

© BDA New Technologies Committee. August 2012.
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I.C.T. book review

Brilliant Ideas for Using I.C.T. in the Inclusive Classroom by Sally McKeown and Angela McGlashon.

A David Fulton book published by Routledge ISBN 978-0-415-67254-2. £22.99. Available from SEN Books.

Sally McKeown and Angela McGlashon have produced a book that will be an excellent resource for lesson ideas for busy teachers who want an effective way of using I.C.T. to provide ways for all children to be  included in the learning environment of the class.  The book has 50 illustrated case studies and 20 starter activities with photocopiable worksheets.  These start with ideas for effective ways of using the interactive whiteboard and include suggestions for including activities with video, dvds, iPods,  digital recording, satnavs and programs like Clicker, Textease and Powerpoint.  Most curricular areas are covered as well as animation, dance, behavioural support, communication and incentives to improve writing skills.

Both the authors have extensive S.E.N. and I.C.T. knowledge and experience and have collected together a wide selection of realistic activities, that have been tried and tested by teachers in schools.  The approach is sympathetic to the needs of children with S.E.N. but will enable them to work on activities that are appropriate for all children, on an equal footing with all the class.

Judith Stansfield
B.D.A. NTC (Associate)

CALL Scotland has reviewed this book favourably.

© BDA New Technologies Committee. June 2012.
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Computers in schools.

.. what is happening now?

By Di Hillage, Chairman, BDANTC.

About thirty years ago the first computers started to appear in schools. Teachers looked for ways in which these new devices might help to teach their subjects. Many pupils became interested in creating their own programs and some went on to become the back bone of some of the major computer companies nowadays.

During the 1990s, my local dyslexia association acquired BBC systems that we could lend to dyslexic children who could then use word processing programs, with the wonderful free Speak utility that meant they could not only produce nice looking work, but actually hear it being read to them as well.

Technology has moved on considerably since then, but is it being used as effectively as it could be in all schools?

Computers, in many forms, are everywhere nowadays. The wealth of information available on the internet can be accessed anywhere, not just in a reference library. Efficient use of a computer is assumed in most workplaces. The only people who now have to produce handwritten documents under pressure of time are students taking examinations. Tools are available to enable even the most severely handicapped people to operate almost as effectively as their able companions. The Access to Work program and the Disabled Students Allowances exist to ensure that disabled people are not prevented from working or studying effectively.

Yet there are still schools where dyslexic pupils are made to feel inferior and not allowed access to simple tools to help them. Schools which have spent thousands of pounds on computer hardware, then employ adults to read and write for their dyslexic pupils in class and in examinations, rather than encouraging them to use tools that would let them work independently. Some schools will not allow pupils to provide their own hardware and use it in class for fear that they may cause problems for the school’s network. Some network managers will not allow certain assistive software titles to be installed on the network. Some teachers will not allow a dyslexic pupil to use a computer in the classroom because they think it is cheating. I wonder if they allow their pupils with sight problems to wear their glasses in class?

Responses like this from a teacher suggest that some attitudes to computers in some schools are still somewhat outdated: “In our current paper homework system, they are learning literacy, spelling, numeracy etc. rather than just I.C.T. skills. For some of our students doing something on the computer and printing it off are not skills that they will need in their life – spelling, handwriting and numeracy are more important.” The idea that computers might help with the development of those skills does not seem to have occurred.

Pupils happily tap away on their mobile phones using predictive text but the feature is not available on their school’s word processor. Some teachers are using speech recognition themselves, but pupils who might benefit are not given access to this facility.

So what can be done? Obviously there are good examples of the use of technology as well and some contributions giving examples of good use would make excellent reading in future editions of B.D.A. Contact magazine. If you have something to contribute please e-mail B.D.A. tech in the first place.

Scotland is providing digital text books and exam papers so that schools can save money by not have to pay readers and scribes for pupils, and has run the Books for All project. The accessible Resources Pilot Project in England has shown a way forward.

There are hundreds of apps being developed for iPads and other small devices which are useful to dyslexic users. Some schools are issuing iPads to all pupils.

Another item in the international news…

“The Norwegian community of Skien (about 100 kilometres south of Oslo with 25 schools with 6,500 students aged 6 to 16) has provided a text-to-speech program (English and Norwegian), extended spell checker and dictionary, and software to read audiobooks free to all its students, to use at school and at home. They are also being provided with keyboard training (touch typing) and mind mapping. It will cost about 2 euros for each student every year. The head teachers were convinced after being shown 1) that it was required under national disability and educational legislation and 2) the effectiveness of the software. The biggest challenge now is to train teachers and students, and give information to the parents.”

If you have a dyslexic youngster or are working in a school, please help to raise awareness of the ways in which technology can help dyslexic learners, as well as their peers, so that they can all become independent and effective learners. We know that time and money are in short supply nowadays but, if properly managed, technology can help to save both of these. You will find lots of useful information here on our website and we welcome your feedback.

This is a comment from a teacher involved in the Accessible Resources Pilot Project.

“I have to say what I loved this afternoon was watching the students, the faces, the sheer excitement that they have about having something they can use. J & L are two of our most severe dyslexic students. Both are statemented and find it really hard to access material and have done so throughout their whole time here. J just said “I can read this” and it was wonderful. To see a child who really does experience difficulty across the curriculum find something that allows success is great.”

© BDA New Technologies Committee. June 2012.
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Letter-spacing

A new free App allows users to find out whether increasing the space between letters in text makes reading easier. Research suggests this may be helpful for dyslexic readers. The evidence is based on a study using Times New Roman, but dyslexic people prefer sans serif fonts. Please try the app, send feedback, and reply to this Post with your views on letter-spacing.

© BDA New Technologies Committee. May 2012.
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B.D.A. Technology Conference


In November 2011, B.D.A. held a Dyslexia and Technology conference, with speakers, and workshops by publishers.

An attendee, Lorna Knight, has written some thoughtful comments on the presentations, for Oxford Ed Tech blog.

Reflections on Assistive Technology from the Dyslexia and Technology in Education conference, Part 1.

The writer praised the information about free and cheap software, which may suffice or be a useful taster before investing in more expensive items.

Reflections on Assistive Technology from the Dyslexia and Technology in Education conference, Part 2.

The writer endorsed the enthusiasm of several speakers for schools to teach touch typing skills, and short-cuts for efficient use of computers.

Reflections on Assistive Technology from the Dyslexia and Technology in Education conference, Part 3.

The writer pinpointed a speaker suggestion that audio files should be as acceptable as written text, particularly in examinations.

© BDA New Technologies Committee. April 2012.
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