High-Tech Help for Reading

By Sheryl Knapp, A/AOGPE and Shelley Lacey-Castelot, MS, ATACP

At a Glance

From e-readers to iPad apps, the array of Assistive Technology available for children who struggle with reading continues to grow and improve • Here are explanations of specific technologies with details of how they can be used to help students in the classroom and with homework

For students with language learning disabilities, Assistive Technologies (AT) are powerful and empowering tools. When matched appropriately to a student’s needs, AT enables access to grade-level content corresponding to a child’s oral language skills and cognitive abilities, thereby leveling the playing field with classroom peers.

Reading Solutions

Kids that struggle with decoding, fluency, comprehension, and other language skills often find electronic readers invaluable. The built-in dictionary, thesaurus, and study support enable students to get definitions and synonyms online, highlight important text, and even create an outline or summary with voice and text notes.

With e-readers, embedded scanning allows printed text to be converted to digital text, which can then be read aloud, while the text is highlighted to provide both audio and visual input at the same time.

The voice quality of text readers has improved dramatically, sounding almost human, and students are able to select from several voice options as well as adjust speed and phrasing. Portable e-readers, which can scan text on demand—for instance, a restaurant menu—are also available.

Although not a replacement for explicit reading instruction, research suggests that these devices may help to improve reading through repeated exposure to the same words as well as to higher level written language.

Students can also gain access to course content through images and videos, widely available online and via DVDs. This medium is very powerful for many students with learning differences—particularly those who struggle with language, as it helps them to map words and concepts to the images they see.

Electronic Reading Software to Consider:
  • Blio
  • Read:OutLoud
  • Premier Literacy Suite
  • ReadPlease
  • Kurzweil 3000
  • TextHelp Read&Write Gold
  • WYNN
  • Microsoft Reader
  • EText Reader
  • NaturalReader
  • ClaroReader
Electronic Reading iPad Apps To Consider:
  • Voice Dream Reader
  • Read2Go
  • iReadWrite
  • vBookz PDF Voice Reader

Sheryl Knapp is the founder and President of Literacy Learning and Assessment Center of Connecticut. Knapp has Associate Level certification with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. Shelley Lacey-Castelot is the Director of Literacy Solutions in Oxford, CT, and an expert in the evaluation and use of assistive technology for students with learning disabilities and attention disorders.

Related Smart Kids Topics

Managing LD/ADHD, Assistive Technology, Treatment & Support for LD, Academic Skills, Accommodations & Modifications