Having home schooled dyslexic kids for the past 20 years, I have a unique appreciation for the plethora of handy new technology that is available today to help my kids who learn differently. I long thought of technology as a crutch, but now think of it as the way of the future and we are enjoying many of its benefits. There are many great apps for teaching reading readiness, phonemic awareness and multi-sensory phonics instruction for younger, budding readers. I am still gathering a list of our favorites and will post that when I have finished. Today I am focusing on the older kids. The kids who need these tools to help them be organized and efficient as they head into the ‘real’ world and away from textbooks, class assignments and the like.
Web Reader Text-to-speech app that can read web page content. Super easy to use and mostly effective. We have tried lots of text-to-speech apps and this one is by far our favorite. Easy to use and accurate, it is a huge help for the older child who is researching on the Internet and learns better by hearing. Install the app and then plug in the url (address of the web page) push play or pause and the app reads you the text.
Dragon Go! (FREE) Allows you to speak what you are searching for on the web so Google, Wikipedia and YouTube are defaults. Similar to a Siri on the iPhone. This saves the trouble of typing and spelling errors for faster and more efficient research.
Dragon Dictation (FREE) This is a voice recognition app that allows the user to see the text generated through speaking instead of typing. Can be used with some popular social networking sites. Otherwise known as speech-to-text, this is a great help for the person who has great ideas but struggles getting them down on paper.
Soundnote ($4.99) A note-taking app that basically turns your iPad into a Livescribe pen. Records lectures and then syncs the audio to what you type or scribble in. The audio recording is time-locked to your typing and drawing. You may want to use a keyboard or stylus for this app to be more functional. Learning to take good notes is a critical life skill that does not come easy to a person with auditory processing issues. Have your child practice at church or some other non-threatening place where they can practice and perfect their use of this app.
PaperDesk ($2.99) Another note-taking app like Soundnote but that has more options like inserting photos, importing pdfs, organizing pages into notebooks, and an option to export. More complicated to use than Soundnote.
American Speller (FREE) Allows you to type in a word phonetically (based on how it sounds) and it will come up with the actual spelling of the word. It also provides definitions to help you understand the meaning of the word and be certain that this is the actual word yo are looking for. I call this app the mom-substitute! Teach them to be independent learners.
Dictionary.com (FREE) View definitions and synonyms with Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com with no Internet connection required.
Word Dynamo ($3.99) Includes Dictionary.com’s entire word library to help students master word learning and includes different learning modes such as audio, flashcards and definition matching arranged in order of difficulty: Elementary School, Middle School, High School and College & Beyond.
Reading Trainer ($4.99) Helps improve reading speed with fun exercises. I have heard that speed reading is a help to dyslexic learners. It certainly can’t hurt to read faster and if learning comes in the form of a game, it is a win-win situation!
Speak It! (1.99) Hear your emails, articles and other online texts read aloud to you by simply copying and pasting the text into this app. You can also create audio files from the spoken text that you can save or email.
Khan Academy (FREE) Our family uses the Khan Academy web site often for help in understanind any school topic from atoms to test prep. This app allows access to thousands of short, education videos that simplify otherwise complicated material.
Idea Sketch (FREE) lets you draw a diagram (mind map, concept map, or flow chart) convert it to a text outline and vice versa. It can be used to brainstorm ideas, illustrate concetps, make lists and outlines, and more. Great for visual thinkers.
Not an app but still awesome
Mac owners – do your free IOS 6 update! It has speech selection that highlights text as it’s read aloud. Great for web browsing as well as helping students reading along while listening. Highlighting must be turned on in settings.
Can’t forget about the simple Siri on the iPhone 4S and up. My husband uses this all the time to dictate texts, notes and emails on the go.
What apps can you add to the list?
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