Friday, January 31, 2014


Recent Interview on Dyslexia and the iPad

Q) Why do you believe so many people know so little about dyslexia?
Every day in America there are school children you do not succeed very well in school. We euphemistically called these children the lower third of the class. Year after year this lower third of the class slogs their way through school. We think that they do not read well because they are unmotivated or not very bright. But it turns out many of these children have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a neurologically based disability that affects one's ability to read, write and spell. Many school officials think that dyslexia is a very rare condition. But it turns out that dyslexia is the most common disability in our society. Research studies which image the brain while children read have discovered that dyslexia is a neurological processing difference. Only recently has this scientific research begun to be recognized by school officials, teachers and parents. Fortunately, there are ways to help dyslexic students succeed in school. One of these approaches is called a multi-sensory approach to learning to read. The multi-sensory approach is called the Orton-Gillingham  approach to learning to read. This approach of instruction is most often used by dyslexia centers.

Q) What is it about the iPad that caught your attention?
 A second way to help dyslexic students and adults is to provide them with technology that can actually read books, newspapers, and magazines aloud. Most dyslexic students have no difficulty understanding what is read to them. They may struggle with deciphering print, however they do not struggle with language. For example, most dyslexic students who attend college have their textbooks read aloud to them. Apple's iPad can read books, webpages, newspapers and magazines aloud to a dyslexic individual. The first machine which could read books aloud to dyslexic people was invented by Ray Kurzweil. This machine cost $50,000. But with the advances of technology, the iPad can now function as a reading machine. In order to get through college and graduate school I had to have individuals read all my books and journal articles to me. But now that I have an iPad which can read aloud to me, I can read everything to my hearts content. I like to say that my iPad is a miracle for me as a dyslexic person. The Apple App Store also has a large number of apps that help teach reading to children. Additionally, the iPad can help with writing. The iPad allows a person to dictate what they want written. As a student dictates the iPad types out what they have said. This is a great help for dyslexic students.

Q) What can be done to help raise awareness about dyslexia?
 Many parents are becoming aware that when their child struggles with reading  that they might have dyslexia. We no longer have to look at struggling readers as if they were unmotivated or not very bright. One of the first things that we can do is to help train school psychologist and reading teachers about dyslexia. When students are struggling with reading, they should be tested for dyslexia and offered a multi-sensory approach to learning to read. States like Texas now have passed legislation saying that struggling readers need to be tested for dyslexia and offered specialized instruction. 
Q) What is the first step a parent should or can take when they suspect their child might be dyslexic?
 When a parent has a child who struggles to read this is a heart wrenching experience. Parents should know that there is help for their children. They can often take the children to it dyslexia center to be tested. This testing is often done by a psychologist who has been trained in diagnosing dyslexia. Again parents should understand that their child is intellectually bright and normal in every respect. Their child simply has a difference in how he or she processes written language for reading. With specialized instruction their child will learn to read. Their child can succeed in school. Also for further information contact the American Dyslexia Association. They can help you locate help for you and your child. You can also read Dyslexia and the iPad, which gives lots of advice on how the iPad can help your child. Dr. Nuttall is also writing a book explaining how the Amazon Kindle Fire can help dyslexic children and adults.

Q) Any parting comments?
I actually use an iPad, a Nexus 7 and a Kindle Fire HDX. I recommend using more than one tablet. But in order of preference I like iPad, Kindle Fire then Nexus. 


Kindle HDX First Impressions

Kindle Fire HDX Impressions
I have had some success helping people with dyslexia and the iPad. The Kindle Fire is the second most popular tablet on the market. So I figured that I needed to become competent about the Kindle Fire. So the other day I took the leap and purchased one from Amazon. My first impressions are favorable.

-- Set up is easy. 

-- Almost all Kindle books can be read aloud using the TTS.

-- The TTS is the Ivona voice which is very clear and gives an excellent read aloud experience.

-- The voice can be set a different speeds. The 1.0 is generally good. Skilled readers might prefer the 1.5 speed. It is unfortunate that there is no 1.25 speed.

-- The build in keyboard comes with word completion, next word prediction, or swipe input. The keyboard is very accurate.

-- There is also Dictation. The dictation appears to be the same as in the DragonDictate App. So I believe the Dragon Dictate is the speech engine being used.

-- The Amazon Silk browser is provided for the Kindle Fire. This browser is adequate. You can set the search engine to Google or Bing.

-- You can easily read webpages aloud using the @Voice Aloud Reader.

-- People wish that they could read Bookshare books on the Kindle fire. I have a Nexus 7 tablet. So I was able to transfer the Darwin Reader from the Nexus 7 to the Kindle fire. In this manner I was able to set up the Kindle fire to read Bookshare books.

-- On the Kindle fire the screen reader is not called talkback. It is called Screen Reader. This screen reader functions identically to talkback on android tablets. A totally blind person would have to have someone help them set up the Kindle fire when it is initially started. After the initial set up they should be able to run the Kindle fire without any problems.

-- All in all I'm enjoying my Kindle Fire HDX. 

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