Assistive Technology for Dyslexia
Here is a comprehensive list of my favorite assistive technology devices and applications for individuals with dyslexia. Please note that I present 15 different headings that organize the 88 options into defined types of assistive technology.
Comprehensive Technology Options:
Comprehensive technologies offer multiple assistive technology tools in one. Typically they provide support for both reading and writing.
Don Johnston Inc. - $ - This site offers educational software for reading and writing.
Kurzweil 3000 - $ - This technology and software offers built-in tools for reading, writing, study skills and test taking.
TextHelp - $ - Texthelp offers a number of reading and writing assistive technology options for desktops, tablets, Google and more.
iOS Accessibility - Free - Apple offers a range of assistive technologies — including Voice Over, Guided Access, and Assistive Touch. These are built into the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
ClaroRead - $ - The ClaroRead line of educational software tools provides reading and writing support for struggling learners, ESL students or anyone looking to make the writing process easier. Find text to speech, word prediction, spell check and more in one easy to use program at an affordable price.
Planning, Time Management, and Organization:
Helping learners with planning, time management, and organization (executive functioning) is time well spent. Today, apps can make phones and other handheld devices almost personal assistants. Homework assignments can be recorded, to-do lists can be created, reminders set, assignments broken down into manageable steps and more.
iStudies Pro - Free/$ - This Apple App is available for smartphones, Ipads and even Mac and PC computers. It helps students track school assignments, manage projects, save notes, organize tasks, and create complicated schedules.
Remember the Milk - Free - This is a web-based computer application (Mac, PC, and Linux), phone app (iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android) and tablet app (Ipad, Android and Fire) that increases efficiency by allowing users to create separate to-do lists, set priorities, and assign tags and categories across devices.
RescueTime - $ - This app that works on Mac, PC, Android and Linux operating systems prevents students from wasting time playing online games or interacting on social sites. The program tracks the amount of time spent on activities, sends detailed reports and data, and blocks distracting websites.
Strict Workflow - Free - This free Chrome extension enforces 25 minutes of distraction-free work followed by a 5-minute break.
Text to Speech:
With Text-to-Speech technology, dyslexic students can listen to words while scanning text or visualizing the narrative. This can be used to improve reading speed, develop visualization skills, and many students report that it helps them see whole words instead of strings of letters.
AnyBook Personal Reader - $ - This unique product allows physical books to be read aloud without having to scan the text. Pages are orally read and digitally recorded. Readers can then instantly access any page via scannable stickers.
Audible.com - $ - This Amazon company provides audiobooks. It also provides magazines, radio shows, podcasts, stand‐up comedy, and speeches. They claim to feature the best narrators interpreting books by top authors.
IntoWords - $ - This Apple/Chrome/Android app reads text from documents, emails, the Internet or photographs. It also offers word prediction software and a built-in spell checker.
NaturalReaders - Free/$ - This Mac and Windows software offers text to speech and a talking dictionary for use with Word, PDFs, and websites. Natural Readers highlights text when reading and offers larger fonts, typing echo, a spell checker, word prediction and OCR technology.
Project Gutenberg & Librivox - Free - These sites offer free text to speech audio books for public domain literature. Volunteers record chapters of books and release the audio files back onto the internet.
Raz-Kids - $ - This website provides comprehensive reading resources for students, with hundreds of eBooks offered at 27 different levels of difficulty. Kids access leveled text and read at their own pace. They can record themselves reading, and take an eQuiz.
Read & Write for Google Chrome - Free/$ - This speech to text dictation software highlights text when reading. It is available in the Chrome browser.
Read OutLoud - $ - Read OutLoud offers a text-to-speech reader and study tools that help struggling readers with comprehension.
Snap&Read Universal - $ - This application works on Mac and PC computers, the Chrome browser as well as tablets and reads text aloud on Google Drive, emails, websites and even PDF documents. It simplifies the text, translates languages, offers OCR functions, and works with Bookshare and Kindle Cloud Reader.
Voice Dream Reader - Free/$ - This Apple app can read aloud PDF, ePub, DAISY, Word, and Text files in Dropbox, Google Drive or on your device. Listen to audiobooks in DAISY or ZIP and download books from Gutenberg and Bookshare. This app offers many adjustments to the reading speed and more.
Voice Typing - Free - This free tool in Google docs offers a voice to text option. It can only be accessed when using the Google Chrome browser.
Speech to Text:
Speech to text software takes the spoken word and translates it into text. Individuals with dyslexia can speak into a built-in or external microphone and their words appear on the screen. Spelling is no longer a barrier to writing, however, users have to learn to speak their punctuation, by saying “comma” or “new paragraph” as needed.
Co-writer Universal - $ - This software/app gives students access to a powerful word prediction tool on their favorite devices (Chromebooks, iPads, and Mac/Windows desktops). Each word is said aloud as the student types. It also has over 4 million topic dictionaries and built-in speech recognition in Google Chrome, and privacy-safe data collection.
Mac Dictation - Free - This is a free option available on Mac products that allow for speech to text.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking - $ - This download or disc lets you dictate documents, search the web, email and more on your computer Mac or PC. It allows the user to train the software for improved voice recognition and functioning.
TalkTyper - Free - This site works with the Chrome browser and offers dictation that can be emailed, tweeted or translated.
If writing or taking notes is difficult an audio recorder can record class content, so information can be reviewed at a later time. This enables individuals with dyslexia to focus on the content instead of writing and spelling. Whether you’re in a lecture, interview or conference, learners can be fully present.
Smartpen - $ - This device writes like a ballpoint pen. When handwriting on their special paper, words automatically appear on any synced tablet or smartphone. Notes can be converted to a typed print and be organized, tagged, and searched.
Audio Notetaker - $ - This Apple app streams information and splits your recording up into individual phrases and displays them on screen as highlighted bars of text.
NoteTalker - $ - This Apple or Android app can be used on a smartphone or tablet. Notetalker lets you bookmark the audio file, highlight and even take photos.
Timers and Metronomes:
For students with dyslexia who struggle with attention and stamina, timers and metronomes can make a difference. On the one hand, timers (e.g., stopwatch or egg timer) can help focus student effort and provide motivation over an allocated period of time. On the other hand, metronomes make repeated sounds at adjustable intervals to create a pace and rhythm for learning. For example, you can define a pace to learn the ABCs or breaking words into syllables.
Standard Metronome - Free - This online metronome allows you to adjust the pace and sounds.
Drum Beat Metronome - Free - This is another online metronome that allows you to adjust the pace and sounds.
Stopwatch and Timer - Free - This is an online timer.
Reading Guides and Color Overlays:
If students with dyslexia are experiencing visual stress - they are overwhelmed by a page of text, struggle with visual tracking, battle with maintaining attention while reading, or they dislike the contrast of black letters on a white background, reading guides and color overlays can assist.
Beeline Reader - Free - This free web/computer-based tool helps students track and read faster by using a color gradient that guides eyes from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next.
Color Overlays - Free - This tool changes the color of the background to make reading easier on the eyes. They can also be used to help students with tracking issues. Here is a DIY option.
Tinted Glasses and Lens - $ - Tinted glasses and lens can offer a more comfortable contrast to help some struggling readers.
Kinesthetic Desks, Chairs, and Tools:
For dyslexic students with attentional issues or who may fidget and fiddle in the classroom, there are “kinesthetic” desks and other furniture that allow movement or feature movable parts like swiveling platforms, ellipticals, and bike pedals. These tools increase heart rate, improve circulation and, in turn, stamina and mental function.
Kinesthetic Desks and Tools - $ - These desks feature moveable parts much like exercise equipment.
Inflatable Cushion - $ - These seat cushions offer core strengthening and movement.
Zenergy Ball Chair - $ - This bouncy, wiggly, yet stable chairs, provide a core strengthening, comfortable option.
White Noise/Noise Cancelling:
Research shows that frequency modulation systems, white noise and some types of music can help some struggling learners study by blocking unexpected noise thus enhancing attention.
M Soft White Noise Player - Free - This site offers a number of free white noise sounds.
White Noise Player - Free - This site offers free white noise and nature sounds.
Focus@Will - $ - This site streams music that they claim has been scientifically proven to increase attention span and one’s ability to focus.
Bose Quiet Comfort 20i - $ - These noise-canceling headphones block out all environmental noises or it can allow some outside noises.
Calculators and Step by Step Math Instruction:
Some students with dyslexia can struggle with rote learning, reversing symbols such as the greater and lesser sign, word problems, handouts that are visually dense and multi-step problems.
Calcbot - Free - This Apple app is a calculator and unit converter. It also features a history tape, expression view, and much more!
Endless Numbers - Free - This Apple app helps young students learn number recognition, sequences, numerical patterns, quantity and simple addition with adorable monsters. Numbers come alive and short animations offer context and meaning.
ModMath - Free - This iPad app that allows students to write math problems on a touchscreen. You can then answer the questions using a touchpad and print or email the assignment.
PhotoMath - Free - This Apple and Android app allows you to use your phone’s camera to take a picture of a math expression and it will instantly display the answer with a detailed step-by-step explanation.
Note-taking is a deceptively complex task. Having to simultaneously listen, process and write can easily overwhelm some students. What to do? Luckily there are many helpful apps and devices for making this essential task easier.
Evernote - $ - This app is available on Apple, Android, Windows, Amazon, iOS and Amazon products, It saves lists, bookmarks and syncs notes across devices.
Sonocent - Free/$ - This PC, MAC, and iOS study and productivity app chunks long audio recordings up into small pieces and highlights the text in colorful bars for organizing.
Notability - $ - This Apple app can be used to sketch, record and annotate using a keyboard, finger or stylus. Documents can be imported (including PDFs) and linked to Dropbox and Google Drive.
Smartpen - $ - This pen and audio recorder records speech and text simultaneously. Recorded text can be made digital, and recorded audio can be mapped to the text allowing a student to re-listen to a specific part of a lecture.
SuperNote - Free/$ - This Apple app helps students rapidly create color-coded notes, and photos can be taken while recording or playing content. In addition, you can send yourself reminders in your notes as well as transfer your notes to other people or to your computer using email, WiFi, or Dropbox.
MyScript Notes - $ - This Apple app provides the freedom and flexibility to write, draw, add equations, annotate, and insert pictures and sounds into your notes.
NoteTalker - $ - This Apple or Android app can be used on a smartphone or tablet to audio record a teacher and replay it later. Features include bookmarking of audio files, highlighting, and taking photos.
Soundnote - $ - This Apple app transforms your iPad to something like the Smartpen. Lectures can be recorded and synced to your notes, so audio is attached to your typing or drawings for easy access to that moment in the lecture.
A graphic organizer, also known as a concept map, story map, cognitive organizer, or concept diagram, is a tool that uses visual symbols and sequenced text boxes to express knowledge, concepts, thoughts, or ideas, and the relationships between them. In particular, graphic organizers can help students with dyslexia to organize and plan out large assignments, stories, essays, lab reports, timelines, and more.
Connected Mind - Free - This Chrome app allows users to draw mind maps, store them in the cloud and access them from anywhere.
Kidspiration - $ - This Mac/Windows download or iPhone/iPad app provides a cross-curricular visual workspace for K-5 learners. Graphic organizers are just a tiny bit of this app's functionality.
Inspiration - $ - This Mac/Windows download or iPhone/iPad app helps students get thoughts in order, brainstorm ideas, and set daily, weekly or monthly goals for learning. It’s easy to create idea webs, mind maps, outlines, and diagrams.
Lucidchart - $ - This web-based diagramming tool makes drawing diagrams fast and easy. Students can work individually or with other classmates to create and edit diagrams in real time.
Mind Meister - Free/$ - This web-based diagramming tool allows users to create, manage and share mind maps online and access them from anywhere. Students can work individually or with other others to create and edit diagrams in real time.
Notability - $ - This note-taking Apple app can be used to sketch, record and annotate notes using a keyboard, finger or stylus. Documents can be imported, including PDFs and they can be linked to Dropbox and Google Drive.
XMind - Free/$ - This Mac download, mind mapping/brainstorming tool allows you to add pictures, attachments, and even export to PDF or Microsoft Office Word and Powerpoint projects.
There are a number of programs that can help students with dyslexia to master the overall structure of the writing process.
Draft Builder- $ - This draft writing app breaks down the writing process into three manageable steps - outlining, note-taking, and writing the first draft. It provides a structure so that students can generate ideas and organize them to create a cohesive document.
Kidspiration - $ - Using visual thinking methodologies, Kidspiration provides a cross-curricular visual workspace for K-5 learners.
Inspiration - $ - Can help students you get your thoughts in order, brainstorm ideas, and set daily, weekly or monthly goals for your learning. It enables you to develop ideas and understand new concepts with idea webs, mind maps, and diagrams. Students You can also build your vocabulary with its integrated dictionary and thesaurus.
Mylowrites - $ - A great subscription-based writing tool that breaks down the writing process into manageable steps. Here is an introduction video on Mylowrites.
Word Prediction, Spell Checks, and Grammar Checks:
Students with dyslexia often struggle with spelling, word finding, and writing. For these learners, word prediction, spelling and grammar software/apps can help them focus on the content of their writing rather than the mechanics.
ClaroRead - $ - The ClaroRead line of educational software provides reading and writing support tools for struggling learners, ESL students anyone looking to make the writing process easier. Find text to speech, word prediction, spell check and more in one easy to use program at an affordable price.
Co:Writer Universal - $ - This software/app gives students access to a powerful word prediction tool on their favorite devices (Chromebooks, iPads, and Mac/Windows desktops), over 4 million topic dictionaries, built-in speech recognition in Google Chrome, and incredible privacy-safe data collection.
Ginger Keyboard + Page - $ - This Apple/Android/Chrome app offers a powerful editing tool that quickly reviews your text for any grammar, spelling and punctuation issues.
GlobalAutoCorrect- $ - This download claims to be compatible with all programs as well as the web. It helps you to focus on writing by automatically and intelligently correcting your spelling as you type.
Grammarly - Free/$ - This Chrome App and Microsoft add-on lets you check your grammar and spelling, wherever you go on the Web but also in Word docs.
iWordQ- $ - This is an Apple writing and reading application that can be used to assist struggling writers and readers.
Read&Write for iPad - Free - This iPad app offers an alternative keyboard to help with writing. In addition, it offers dyslexia focused word prediction, dictionaries, and other tools. Also, when viewing online content in Safari, simply touch some text to hear it read aloud.
Voice Dream Writer - $ - This Apple app offers advanced Text-To-Speech Proofreading, word finding technology, and outlining tools. In addition, it can read words and sentences as you type or voice dictate.
VeritySpell - Free - This is an add-on for Google Docs. It offers a spell and grammar checker and the authors claim that it was specially designed for people with dyslexia.
WordQ - $ - This Chrome app and offers a simple text editor with powerful word prediction, speech feedback and speech recognition. It has a unique feature that helps with homophones.
OCR/Scanners - for Text-to-Speech:
Optical Character Recognition (OCR), as well as scanners, are great at transferring text from physical sources directly into a digital document. What can be done with the digital text depends on what software you use. Common options include: highlighting text, reading words aloud using text-to-speech, changing the colors and the size of the font, adjusting the background color, and applying digital “bookmarks” that allow users to quickly move around the document. There are various types of OCR programs and apps available for desktop and mobile.
Google Docs - Free - This free online OCR is now built into Google Drive. For the best results, the document's font should be set to Arial or Times New Roman. Images can be processed individually (jpg, png, and gif files) or in multi-page PDF documents. It also supports a number of languages.
Office Lens (Mobile/ Free) - Free - This mobile-based OCR digitizes notes on whiteboards or blackboards. It can also make digital copies of your printed documents, business cards, or posters and trim them. What’s more, it can enhance images and automatically scale images to size.
Online OCR - Free/$ - This free online OCR supports 46 languages and works by selecting and uploading a file (limited to 5MB) and converting it to Microsoft Word, Excel or a Plain text file. By paying a fee you can convert multipage PDF, RTF, Excel documents and file sizes up to 100 MB.
PDF Scanner + OCR - Free - This free android app quickly converts images as well as PDF files into usable text.
Prizmo - $ - This smartphone and tablet app quickly scans and converts pictures into over 40 languages with powerful editing capability, text-to-speech, and iCloud support.
Snap&Read - $ - This app allows you to click and drag over any image to quickly convert text into a text to speech format.
Although many students with dyslexia qualify for a foreign language substitution or exemption, for those who choose to learn a second language, there are a number of products on the market that can help with the learning process.
Bing Translate - Free - This free translation service offers an online automatic translation of text and web pages.
Duolingo - Free - This site offers a free science-based language education platform.
Google Translate - Free - This free online language translation service instantly translates text and web pages.
Memrise - Free - This site offers high-quality courses in more than 200 languages.