One of the ways that some of the problems caused by dyslexia can be alleviated is with the application of appropriate technology. There are now numerous technology options, specifically designed for dyslexic people. The majority of this technology is computer based, both software and hardware, but there are also some other more simple forms of technology that dyslexics can use. Of course, each person will need to experiment with the various technologies available, to see what works for them.
It is our policy to not recommend any particular company or product, so this list is a general overview of the types of technology available, rather than individual products. You can find out more about individual products by following some of the links on our links page.
There are many different types of software you can use with your computer. These include:
- Voice Recognition Programs: software, that when combined with a good microphone, enable you to speak into the computer, rather than type into it. The general quality of this type of software has improved considerably over the years, and most programs are now highly efficient. This type of software is useful for dyslexics who have trouble writing, or getting their thoughts down on paper.
- Text / Screen Readers: This software reads the words off of a computer screen aloud for you, rather than you having to read it yourself. Text readers are useful for dyslexics who have trouble reading. This type of software is limited though by the quality of the soundcard in the computer being used.
- Mind Mapping: Mind mapping is a tool which has been found to be extremely useful for dyslexics, and there are numerous software packages available. Mind mapping helps with planning and organising thoughts, and with developing ideas quickly. Mind mapping is particularly useful for dyslexics who have trouble getting started, have problems with sequencing, or getting their thoughts in order.
- Accessibility Programs: There are a number of programs available which provide accessibility options such as changing font, text, size and colour of the information presented on-screen, to make it as easy to use as possible. A good example of this is provided by the accessibility options of this website, found in the toolbar at the top of the page.
There are numerous hardware options, representing both high and low technology. These include:
- Diaries and Personal Organisers: An old fashioned diary can make a world of difference for dyslexics, helping them to keep organised and remember things like appointments. There is a vast range of diaries available, from the old fashioned paper type to high tech versions such as PDAs and Palm Pilots.
- Reading Pens: Small hand held electronic pens that you can run over difficult words and it will display the word in large characters, provide a definition of the word, and if properly enabled, read the word aloud. You can also get pens which will scan and store text to study later. Reading pens are particularly useful for dyslexics that are poor at spelling or who struggle to recognise words.
- Hand Held Spell Checkers: These are useful for checking the spelling and definition of words.
- Portable Word Processors: Smaller than a computer or laptop, these provide portable word processing functions. These are particularly useful for dyslexics who find handwriting difficult.
- Dictaphones: These are available in tape and digital recording formats and allow you to record lectures, meetings, presentations etc, for review later. Particularly good for dyslexics with short term memory problems and difficulties processing large amounts of information.
Coloured Overlays and Lenses
Many of the reading difficulties experienced by dyslexics can actually be caused by Meares-Irlen syndrome, otherwise known as visual stress. The difficulties caused by visual stress can be alleviated by the application of colour, in the form of see-through overlays, or coloured lenses. However, not just any colour will do and they should be calibrated for you by a professional. See our page on Meares-Irlen for more details.