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Arkansas State University

Technology Helps Students With Dyslexia

More than 3 million people are diagnosed with dyslexia every year. Dyslexia is a cognitive condition that affects the brain’s learning centers, resulting in a broad spectrum of visible symptoms: difficulty forming words, trouble reading and processing visual information, and difficulty in demonstrating comprehension of material. All of these symptoms create extra hurdles for young learners. Individualized therapies can be effective in treating dyslexia, and many students respond well to a specialized education program and to programs that utilize technology in the classroom.

Getting Help With Reading

One of the most common symptoms of dyslexia is difficulty with reading comprehension, and in order to facilitate educational outreach by educators with a master’s degree in special education, the International Dyslexia Association has created a uniform knowledge and practice standard for teaching students to read critically and successfully. These standards outline methodologies for teaching content knowledge, practical language development and evidence-based assessment. Common standards also enable technology in the classroom to create more personalized learning environments. These technological tools allow educators more freedom to manage their classrooms.

With these standards in mind, instructors with a master’s degree in special education can effectively introduce technology with applications that provide printable materials that can assist with supplemental studies in reading and comprehension, as well as adaptive learning applications that correct students’ grammar, spelling, syntax and other visible demonstrations of dyslexia. These apps can also provide predictive text prompts and phonetic instruction for students, giving them opportunities for successful interactions with classroom materials.

Other applications provide visual demarcations to assist with symbol recognition, phonetics education, and sentence construction.

Making Comprehension Less Scary

One of the major challenges for individuals suffering from dyslexia has little to do with the actual disability and more to do with its social and psychological implications. Dyslexia creates extra barriers in social, business and education environments, and students can become frustrated when they are unable to accomplish basic tasks that their peers manage with very little effort. A master’s degree in special education program can provide useful skills for an educator seeking to help a dyslexic student. Helping a student discover how learning can be fun again is an important aspect of overcoming the limitations of the disability. Using technology in the classroom, a skilled teacher with a master’s degree in special education can create an environment where specialized apps reframe the fundamental aspects of reading and writing in a fun and engaging manner.

There are apps that provide speech-to-text solutions for students who can articulate answers to questions but struggle with the necessary letter recognition to frame the answer on the page. This way, a student can demonstrate knowledge of classroom material without the necessity of writing a complete (and coherent) sentence. Other apps allow instructors to record a narrative, which a struggling student can then play back at their own pace. Parents can even use this at home to give children more time pairing text with what they hear.

Multiple Paths to The Same Destination

As better technology becomes available, students are allowed more freedom to pursue individualized paths to common comprehension goals. Instructors with a master’s degree in special education are also realizing that how a student learns can be just as important as what they learn. Dyslexia sufferers have different neural paths in their brains, and learning is nothing more than creating persistent new paths. As personalized instruction offered by educational technology gives these students more opportunities for success, these successes will, in turn, create more effective neural paths. Nothing leads to better learning than actually learning to learn.

Learn about the Arkansas State University online MSE in Special Education — Instructional Specialist program.


International Dyslexia Association: Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading

KQED News: Tech Tools That Have Transformed Learning With Dyslexia

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity: iPads: Tools/Apps that Help the Learning Process

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