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Software support for students with dyslexia in FE and HE Colleges

by Lynette Penney | Oct 18, 2012

Software across a college not only helps meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 but can also provide supportive working environments for all your students and staff.

This article looks at some of the most popular software solutions that can be used by further education colleges and universities to support those students and staff with dyslexia. Students can also benefit for the many assistive technology solutions available through the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

Software solutions can range from tools for reading aloud Web pages to those which develop reading strategies and study skills. When selecting software packages it is worth noting that some programs provide site licences, which are more cost-effective than individual licences. Also remember that not all programs will run on a network.

Accessing text

Making text accessible is an important step in providing equal access for students with dyslexia and reading difficulties. Technology can provide the solution. Texthelp Read & Write Gold can read aloud PDF files and Web pages with highlighting, and will quickly and accurately read aloud paper documents that you have scanned in. Texthelp Read & Write Gold also provides support for writing and proof reading through its speech-enabled spell checker, dictionary and homophone checker.

CapturaTalk, another useful tool uses the built-in camera functions of a Windows Mobile Smartphone with assistive software enables one to capture essential information and understand text wherever one is. By taking a photo of text that required to read, CapturaTalk will scan the photograph, recognise the text and read the information aloud. It will also save the scanned file for future reference.

Study and organisational skills

Multi-sensory and interactive software can provide teaching and support staff with the right tools to help develop study and organisational skills. Concept-mapping programs such as Inspiration can be used to differentiate teaching to all levels as well as helping individual learners with planning, studying and organisation. For further information on Inspiration and how to use concept or mind mapping both in a teaching and a support environment see our in-depth comparison of concept mapping packages.

Packages such as Wordswork can help students develop independent learning and studying strategies through case studies, voice-overs and humour. To find out more about how to improve study skills, read our article on suitable packages. Good typing skills are necessary for any user to take full advantage of technology. At the same time they can improve spelling and writing skills. To find out more about the most suitable packages for dyslexic students read our typing tutor article.

Basic skills

Finding software to teach basic literacy skills to adults in an age-appropriate manner is difficult but we’ve found some programs that work well. The Spelling Disc provides explanation of basic spelling rules along with practice activities.
textTHING creates literacy activities for any ability and age at the touch of a button, while the look and feel of the program can be altered for adult learners. It can help develop both reading and spelling skills at all ages.