People with dyslexia will often produce better work on a computer than if they were writing by hand, for the following reasons:
- The computer will always produce clear legible writing, whereas handwriting may be difficult to read.
- Spelling can be checked using spellchecker. It is easier and quicker than checking a dictionary and can be done independently rather than having to ask for help
- The AutoCorrect feature in Microsoft Word can be customised so that the individual can build up their own bank of commonly misspelled words.
- Editing and rearranging text is easy, so students do not have to rewrite laboriously to produce a final draft. This facility also helps students who have sequencing difficulties as it is easy to edit the text so as to rearrange the sequence. Forgotten information can simply be added in later, or a paragraph moved to improve the flow of the passage.
- The AutoCorrect feature in Microsoft Word is a very useful tool that is often underutilised. It can be customised so that the individual can build up their own bank of commonly misspelled words.
- All of this removes the anxiety associated with having to produce lengthy written product
- Other enhanced spell check software is also available (see below).
Speech-to-Text / Voice Recognition / Dictation
This is software that turns the spoken work into digital text. It uses the microphone to record the user’s voice and immediately transforms this into text on the screen.
Traditionally this type of technology was unreliable and expensive. But now it is built in to most devices (laptops, tablets, phones) and works with cloud based software. Most of this new functionality requires an internet connection. Usually this is accessed via a microphone icon on keyboards or menus. This technique of speaking words can also be used to check the spelling and definition of words (www.dictionary.com).
It is similar technology to the voice activation that many devices provide (Google, Siri, Alexa) and increasingly copes with a range of accents, at speed, and deals successfully with technical terminology and proper nouns (names of people, place names etc.).
Information on how to turn on this technology, and how to use it, is beyond the scope of this website, but DAI offer training sessions on this. In addition, using YouTube and videos from software company websites are very useful dyslexia friendly ways of finding out more about how best to use this software.
Dragon Dictate Naturally Speaking was the most commonly used programme of this type but it is increasingly being replaced by free and built-in software available on most word processing software and devices such as tablets and laptops.
There are also many low or no-cost voice recognition apps on the market, such as:
- Voice Dictation (Apple)
- Olympus Dictation (Android)
Although used mostly for reading support, this facility is also a very useful tool for supporting writing. They allow the individual to hear any errors, e.g. a mis-typed word, or an incomplete sentence. See the Text to Speech section in the Reading Support page.
Enhanced Spell Checkers
Although most word processing software (Microsoft Word, Apple Pages) have a spell checker built into them, there is additional stand-alone software that provides more sophisticated assistance. They have a range of features such as homophone checkers, word prediction and phonetic spellcheckers. They also have more sensitive punctuation and grammar checks These include:
- Grammarly grammarly.com
- Ghotit ghotit.com
- Ginger gingersoftware.com
- ClaroRead clarosoftware.com
- TextHELP Read&Write texthelp.com
Developing Keyboard Typing Skills
It is very useful for everyone to learn proper touch-typing, especially for learners with dyslexia who may need to rely on technology. It does take time and effort but it is well worth it. Regular practice is the key, and there is a wide range of typing tutor programmes available for all ages. These include:
- Nessy Fingers
- BBC Dance Mat Typing
- Type to Learn
- Englishtype Junior and Senior
- Touch Type Read and Spell
Some students like to make audio recordings of lectures (using digital recording devices or dictaphones) so that they can listen back to them at a later date. The Livescribe Smartpen www.livescribe.com is another useful tool for capturing information quickly. It digitally records handwritten notes while linking them to simultaneous audio recording, great for taking notes in lectures and meetings. Using special dotted (digitized) paper, the smartpen will remember everything you write and hear.
Notability from http://gingerlabs.com is an audio note-taking app that functions in a very similar way to the Livescribe pen.
Developing Spelling Skills
There is also a range of software that is aimed at developing spelling skills.
Starspell www.fishermarriott.com/products/details/StarSpell%203 helps develop spelling skills from younger children to adults. It uses the Look-Cover-Write-Check strategy. Every word is spoken and many have pictures. It is also possible to create personal word lists and subject specific vocabularies.
Reasonable Accommodations In Certificate Exams (RACE)
The reasonable accommodations allowed in state and college examinations include the use of a word processor for some students. If a school or college is to assess whether a student would benefit from using a word processor in examinations, the student needs to be proficient in its use. This means, in the case of a Junior Certificate student, that good keyboarding skills should be in place by the end of second year. Further information on the accommodations in state examinations is available on our Reasonable accommodations in Certificate Exams information page.
NB Please note that all the software and programmes listed above are for information purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation.