Author: Aoife (Information Team | Dyslexia Association of Ireland)
Assistive technology refers to devices or software/apps which are specifically helpful for people, and which enables them to access documents or create work more easily. Assistive technology can remove barriers and enables individuals to achieve. Assistive technology can support key areas of difficulty including reading, spelling, memory, organisation and time management. Technology can help support in many of the challenges faced by people with dyslexia in education, employment and day to day life.
With so many programmes and products available, it is easy to become confused with the choice. Some established software and apps can be expensive. The software is increasingly built-in to devices and is therefore often free and even for paid products, it can sometimes be possible to get a free 30-day demo or ‘lite’ version, where introductory levels are free and further levels can be purchased.
Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) have a range of short videos discussing and demonstrating technology that one may find beneficial.
Different types of assistive technology are available to help with note-taking, writing, reading, organisation and planning.
Taking notes live during a meeting or studying is a complex task that requires processing, memory, and the ability to identify what is important and what can be left out. When combined with dyslexic literacy challenges such as poor spelling, note-taking can be very stressful for some.
Note-taking technology generally includes the inbuilt audio recording. This reduces the stress of writing notes in real-time. Typed notes can also be linked with time-stamped audio recordings so you can listen back to the audio and then finalise the details ensuring that all key information is noted. It also enables individuals to engage better with the content, rather than solely focussing on note-taking. Examples of note-taking technology are:
- LiveScribe Pen
- Sonocent Glean
- Sonocent Audio Notetaker
- Dictaphone or digital/audio recording on a mobile phone/tablet
For some, voice dictation (or typing with your voice) is a useful method of quickly getting ideas down in a document. Because you are speaking rather than typing or writing, your written expression is not slowed down by spelling difficulties. This could be used for a brainstorming exercise to get your initial ideas down which you can edit later, or in time you could dictate a full assignment using this technology. Some level of editing will always be needed. While voice dictation software is much more accurate now than ever before, it is not perfect. In addition, people often express themselves differently when speaking as opposed to writing and so this may also lead to some editing. Nonetheless, voice dictation can speed up the production of written documents.
Examples of this type of technology include:
- Google Dictate (free)
- Microsoft Office Dictate (free)
- macOS Dictate (free)
- Nuance Dragon Dictate (paid)
Other tools are available to help with writing, and especially grammar and spelling. These are especially useful for proofing written work. Examples include:
Converting text to speech can speed up access to the text you need to read. Most adults with dyslexia can read but it can be tiring and the speed of reading is often affected. Text to speech can speed up access to the written word. Text can even be converted to audio files which you can listen to on the move.
Text to speech can also help with proofing your own written work, as sometimes it is easier to hear errors that might be missed when proofreading a document. Examples of this type of technology include:
- Texthelp Read&Write
- Google Lens (Android Only)
- Speak feature (MS Word, Outlook, Powerpoint)
- iOS (in built)
- Adobe PDF (in built)
- Reading Pens
Being organised is a key skill in all workplaces. Organising your work area, diary and having a system of reminders for due dates can help with this.
Online calendars and reminder apps can be a useful way to keep on top of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks and help to reduce stress. Examples of these include:
Some people find visual methods of learning and planning beneficial. Concept maps or mind maps can be a useful way to visualise processes, create summaries or overviews, or to plan a report or project. They enable ideas to be linked visually using maps, images and colours. They can be done using pen, colour and paper or post-its, and some find them more effective when done by hand. Online versions are also available. Examples include:
For any queries relating to dyslexia, please do contact us at:
01 877 6001