| Oct 18, 2012
Numerous software packages have been designed for and used successfully by dyslexic students to overcome their literacy difficulties. However this is not the case in the hearing impaired community where little software development has taken place. Here we are going to look at software and technology used by dyslexic learners which can also be used to support and teach deaf learners.
Similarities between deaf & dyslexic learners
There is a cross-over of difficulties in acquiring literacy skills for dyslexic and deaf children. Many children with dyslexia have problems with processing information given orally and rely on visual patterns of words to read and spell. A similar technique is taught to deaf children who may rely on word recognition instead of phonetic understanding to spell words. Because of the highly visual environment provided by computers, software packages are an ideal method of reinforcing a visual approach to learning to read, spell and write. Here we’re going to introduce some technology which could also be used with hearing impaired children.
Concept Mapping is a method of visually representing information. Traditionally it has been used as a drafting or revising tool but it can also be used for teaching. The three most popular software packages are mentioned below:
Inspiration:a flexible concept and Mind mapping program, designed for education, allows one to switch between a linear-text view and a map view. Image banks enable pictures to be easily added to maps too.
MindGenius: a flexible Mind Mapping program with an automatic brainstorming mode which enables the map to be viewed in a variety of layouts. Closely integrated to MS Office it allows text outlines and images of maps to be easily imported and exported to many common applications as well as time and project management tools through Outlook.
Mind Manager: a powerful and comprehensive mind mapping tool that encourages efficient and accurate management of ideas using visual cues. The multi-map view makes handling large amounts of information easier while the review mode lets multiple users add to or change maps; great for groups projects.
Many software packages for helping dyslexic students with spelling use a multi-sensory approach with both sound and pictures, but a few programs also work without sound.
Punctuate, from Xavier, teaches punctuation through example sentences. It includes practice games and a quiz to improve and test punctuation skills.
Wordshark is a popular game for reinforcing reading and spelling. This latest version, contains more than 30 games. These games use either the built-in word lists (covering the National Literacy Scheme, Key Stage 3 subject words and the Alpha to Omega word lists) or your own lists. Many of the games can have signs and pictures accompanying words which makes it suitable for those with hearing difficulties.
The Franklin electronic dictionaries offer phonetic spell checking and definitions independent of a computer. Because all entries are spell checked it removes many of the difficulties encountered with dictionaries by those with spelling problems. Franklin dictionaries range from the Literacy Word Bank, designed specifically for primary aged children and containing the National Literacy scheme vocabulary to those designed specifically for those with special educational needs, such as the Franklin DMQ-2100 Speaking Dictionary. This includes speech feedback for those with partial hearing.
Touch typing can be a great skill for deaf children and adults to acquire. With touch typing skills they can take down information while watching what teachers, lecturers or colleagues are saying. There are a huge number of touch typing tutors available. But many rely on auditory instructions or use the home row approach which, with its nonsense typing passages, does not help those who have difficulties with spelling. The EnglishType Junior typing tutor is an easy to use typing tutor which is great for those users who have hearing or spelling difficulties. Instructions can be written on the screen or given orally while it only uses real word or phrases in typing exercises.