Dyslexia and Google Docs

With the increase in the number of schools and colleges using Google Docs web-based application, it becomes critical to ask the following question, “What is the impact of this shift on pupils and students with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia?”

The question could be further narrowed, “What impact does this move from the use of MS-Word have on the ability of a dyslexic student to read/write/edit/dictate text documents?”
 
For making basic editing tasks and creating good looking rich-text documents, Google Docs has a very simple and clear interface. There are many good fonts, including Serif family fonts, and font color as well as background color could be easily adapted. When a user enables Screen Reader in Accessibility Preferences of the user’s Google Account Preferences, several screenshot readers (e.g. ChromeVox) are available. Screenshot Readers are available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., but these browser-dependent addins provide different sets of features and qualities.

Another accessibility related option is, however available, the use of a generic Screenshot Reader working with any application on screen. For example, Ghotit Screenshot Reader is a valuable example coming as a part of the Ghotit Real Writer & Reader software.
 
Texts should preferably be formatted and adapted to each student’s individual needs. Documents should take a visually comfortable size, fonts and colors. It could be much easier to comprehend a text if a Read Aloud option is also available. All these reading facilitators are absent when the document is provided in a read-only format, without editing privileges, or when a student is hesitant about making changes to an original document. Ghotit Reader solves this problem by importing the selected text into its own window where student can change the fonts, adapt the foreground and background colors and read it aloud with dual highlighting.

For students without learning disabilities, writing in Google Docs is a smooth experience. However, since many students with dyslexia and dysgraphia are slow typists and need Word-Prediction, using Google Docs AS IS could be a frustrating experience. Google Docs does not offer a Word-Prediction option (while an Autocomplete option is available in MS-Word). Ghotit’s Quick-Spell Word Prediction is specifically designed for those with dyslexia and dysgraphia and predicts text with instant correction by doing that in Ghotit’s Dyslexia Editor.
 

A great feature of Google Docs is Voice Typing. Student can dictate a text of a reasonable quality and format it by Voice Typing Commands. (This feature is only available in Chrome browser). Normally, microphones of smartphones and tablets are appropriate for dictation, whereas laptops and desktops require a purchase of an external high-quality dictation microphone. Dictation comes nowadays also as a platform feature of Mac (Siri), iOS, Windows and Android. Thus, there is a choice between these two good dictation options, Google Docs Voice Typing or platform-specific dictation, and there is no need to spend money on extra dictation software packages.

Text created by Word-Prediction or Dictation is supposed to be free of misspelled words, but it still comes with confused words, homophones, grammar and punctuation errors. When students write directly to a Google Docs document, misspellings are inevitable. Google Docs is doing a great job of flagging misspelled words as well as some confused words and grammar errors with a level of text correction being good enough for a non-dyslexic user. This service is far from sufficiency, though, for students with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and this is where Ghotit Real Writer & Reader comes to deliver the solution for the students by solving most complex cases.

In conclusion: Overall, Google Docs is a welcomed step forward towards simplicity in creating text documents and through its embedded assistive technology. When equipped with an appropriate and individually tailor-made additional assistive technology, Google Docs could make a positive impact on success of pupils and students with dyslexia and dysgraphia in educational systems.
Ghotit Editor for Google Docs provides full writing, reading and text correction support for those with dyslexia/dysgraphia (for example, see writing with Word-Prediction a Google Doc as a part of the product presentation video at Ghotit Home Page).

Ghotit Dyslexia App for Windows 10S Is in Windows Store.

Finally, it is coming…

Windows 10S, the streamlined version of Windows for education, makes its way to schools being:

– Budget friendly with laptops priced starting from $189;

– Secure where all software is coming only from Microsoft Windows Store;

– Controlled system with all software installed only by admins;

– Energy efficient saving battery and allowing a full school day for the laptops.

 

When it comes to the pupils and students with dyslexia and dysgraphia, remind to their teachers that those children need assistive software, and Ghotit App is already ready in Microsoft Windows Store.

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader App in Windows Store is the result of the joined work of Microsoft Bridge and Ghotit R&D teams and includes all features of the Ghotit Standard Desktop software combined with the known security and efficiency of Windows Store Apps.

 

How to Overcome Dyslexia !!!

Many blogs offer ways “how to overcome dyslexia”.  As a dyslexic, I don’t really believe that overcoming dyslexia is possible, and therefore, I don’t think the question “how to overcome dyslexia”  is an effective way of phrasing this question.

 

Instead, I recommend approaching dyslexia in a more realistic way. Switching from the unrealistic target of the deficiency abolition, curing this learning disability, we should develop compensation tools to ease the implications of dyslexia, leading our way to make the most of the insights and virtues associated with dyslexia.

 

We live in an open, almost borderless age, technology is making huge steps to help us, the dyslexics, providing tools to overcome the problems of writing and reading. The post-modern phrasing tends to be become shorter than ever, twitting instead of expanding, letting us, the dyslectics find our equitable integration in human interaction.

 

Today’s world is friendlier than ever, widely accepting and integrating people with dyslexia.

 

This is my feeling, and what about your, what do you think?

How to Review Dyslexia Writing Software?

What are the criteria for selecting dyslexia writing software or app for those with dyslexia?
What should be the review process?
Which features/capabilities are the most important?

How do I review and grade different writing apps/software packages?

Dr. Robert Iakobashvili,  Ghotit CTO: I have been asked this question numerous times. Here is the list of my recommendations for reviewing writing dyslexia software or apps and finding the solution that fits you best.

1. Choose your own text samples.
Test the dyslexia software with your own text samples. The solution needs to assist your writing, so collect samples of typical text written by you or your targeted user group, and test these text samples.

2. Use text samples from multiple sources.
It is recommended to use numerous samples from diversified sources written on different subjects. Using a large enough and diversified corpus takes more time, but it has a real value in understanding what each solution can deliver to you or your institution.

3. Don’t use any published text samples in your reviewing.
Why? Many software companies collect published samples. These companies then optimize their algorithms to make sure that the published text samples produce good scores. You don’t want to be fooled by such targeted optimizations.

4. Make sure the solution is self-learning.
Don’t you want a solution that with time will understand you better? Make sure that the solution supports intelligent algorithms that learn your writing and offer improved suggestions the more you use the solution.

5. Make sure the vendor provides additional value compared to MS-Office, Pages, Windows, Mac or iOS platform tools.
For most people (those without dyslexia), the standard Windows, Mac or iOS spell checker and word-prediction are good enough. Why spend money on a writing dyslexia software if you already have a good one? Take your text samples and compare the results between the Windows spell checker and the selected dyslexia app/software. Write your phrases with word-prediction and see if you get the right predictions faster with less typing using a software tested than using the standard tools and if it’s easier to comprehend and select the right prediction.
See also if there are specific features offered by the writing assistant software vendor (word-banks, topics, dictionary with definitions, read-out-loud, etc.) that provide you even additional value.

6. The more users are testing the solution, the better.
If you are reviewing a software for an organization or a group of users, try to engage in the evaluation process as many potential users as possible. The different users should be asked to provide their inputs in different areas: correctness of the algorithms, user experience, features, etc.

7. Be precise in defining the reviewing goals and criteria of success.
The success criteria can include:

– Correctness of the suggested words upon text correction
– Improved grammar and punctuation
– Increased speed in typing due to an effective word-prediction technology
– Ability of prediction to cope with spelling/typing errors
– Feature completeness – e.g. integrated dictionary, read-out-loud.

8. Make sure that the solution inter-operates with your targeted environments.
Does your customer base use Windows? Macs? iPhones? Android devices?
Make sure, the solution supports all of the different devices that you need.

9. Confirm that the vendor is a credible supplier.
Many basic spell checking algorithms are published and can be easily programmed. Verify that the vendor is a credible vendor with a real business that offers support when needed.

10. Make sure that your vendor is dedicated to the dyslexic community
There are many writing apps for dyslexics out there. Some of them are generic spell checkers that are positioned as solutions for the people with dyslexia. But children and adults with dyslexia require more sophisticated writing adaptive solutions. Make sure that your vendor is familiar with the specific challenges that those with dyslexia face reading and writing text, and that the company is dedicated to the learning disabilities market.

This article doesn’t cover reviewing of complex all-in-one dyslexia solutions, like our recent Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 6, containing several types of assistance:

– Writing Assistance with Quick-Spell Word Prediction;
– Reading Assistance by Text-to-Speech Reader with dual highlighting, Integrated Talking Dictionary and Screenshot Reader;
– Text Correction including misspelled words, confused words/homophones, grammar and punctuation.

You can find links to the known independent reviewing of Ghotit software here: Ghotit Software Review. Note, that the views presented and recommendations are those of the reviewers and do not necessarily reflect Ghotit-recommended Best Practices.

Dyslexia Friendly Schools

“If a child does not learn in the way in which we teach then we must teach him in the way in which he learns. Let dyslexia be looked at from a different angle, not as a learning disability but a different learning ability.”  (Pollack, J.,Waller)

Dyslexia friendly schools are schools that recognize a specific learning difficulty as a learning difference. These schools make an effort to include and support dyslexic students. These schools recognize that a dyslexic student learns in a different manner, and places an effort in empowering the child to deal with his writing difficulties. In non-friendly dyslexia schools, dyslexic children are seen as having something “wrong” that requires special treatment.

A dyslexia friendly school invests in educating their staff regarding on how to identify a dyslexic child’s specific learning challenges, and how to empower such a child with a learning environment supportive of his learning capabilities. The staff is guided to demonstrate sensitivity to the emotional state and self-esteem of the dyslexic student. For example, if a dyslexic child demonstrates confidence in his oral capabilities, the teacher is guided to provide the dyslexic child opportunities to regularly demonstrate this strength. If a dyslexic child begins to fall behind, then the teacher is guided to recommend special tutoring to minimize the learning gap.

A dyslexia friendly school also invests in building a close channel of communication with the child’s parents, actively communicating to them the progress and difficulties encountered by the child. The staff guides the parents regarding how to receive additional support and help.

In a dyslexia friendly school, teachers are guided to adopt a set of practices that if observed on a regular basis will alleviate the day-to-day struggle of the dyslexia child. These include:

  • Always write things on the board early, as dyslexic are slower in copying assignments to their notebooks. This problem becomes more severe if the student is under stress.
  • Make sure the student was successful in copying all his assignments to his notebook.
  • Don’t force the student to read out loud, unless you are sure that he wants to.
  • Place the student near the front and next to a good sitting student “neighbor”, so that distractions are reduced to a minimum.
  • Allow and encourage dyslexic students to use computers, so that their can correct their writing with advanced writing assistive programs (such as Ghotit)
  • Make sure that the dyslexic student understands what his is reading. Constant discussion of the meaning of the text is important, and should be performed regularly.
  • If required give the dyslexic child additional exam time, as dyslexic children tend to read and write more slowly than their peers.
  • … And most importantly, never laugh at the mistakes of a dyslexic child, or allow other students to do so. On the contrary, make an effort to praise their efforts and successes.

Comments with additional recommendations for a dyslexic friendly school would be appreciated …

Can assistive technology for people with dyslexia be cheap?

Ghotit offers it’s Microsoft integrated Assistive Technology plug-in for just 9 cents a day…

According to Wikipedia “Assistive technology or adaptive technology (AT) is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting”.

From this definition it is clear that assistive technology is a technology which aims to help a targeted group of people (this technology might never be adopted by the general population).

The costs of Assistive Technologies, specifically those targeting people with dyslexia, can reach hundreds of dollars. If a guarantee can be given that an assistive technology solution would result in dramatic writing improvements– than even such a high price of several hundreds of dollars would be worth it. As a person with dyslexia, I know that dramatically improving ones’ writing is an invaluable benefit. But the truth of the matter is that not all assistive technologies are the same, and not all dyslexics are the same. Therefore not all writing assistive technology solutions can deliver on their promise to all dyslexics.

As a dyslexic who has spent in the past thousands of dollars trying to obtain the “right” solution that will improve my terrible writing and spelling, I am familiar with the disappointment when a writing assistive solution that costs close to a thousand dollars, simply does not deliver any real value.

Ghotit writing assistive technology was developed by dyslexics, for dyslexics. As one of the founders of Ghotit, I can confidently say that I have seen no other product in the market that delivers the writing improvements to dyslexics as does Ghotit. However, as stated above, not all dyslexics are the same. Ghotit understands that and is offering Microsoft integrated plug-in for extremely reasonable prices…

So can assistive technology for people with dyslexia be cheap? Yes, go to Ghotit and see how you can purchase Ghotit for only 9 cents a day…

7 Tips for Living Successfully with Dyslexia

I have read articles about people who were able to beat dyslexia. I cheer these people…

I, though diagnosed relatively early in my live, and having both my parents and myself invest a lot of time, effort and money in treating my dyslexia, was never able to beat my dyslexia. Rather, I learned to live with my Dyslexia.

Here are my seven tips of how you can live successfully with your dyslexia:

1)      Practice, practice & practice reading – till you can enjoy reading a good book, or read up on all required work materials. For some, audio reading solutions can help in improving their reading capabilities.

2)      Gain your reading and writing independence – find the right reading and writing assistive solutions. Solutions like Ghotit, enable even heavy dyslexics to independently produce correctly written text as well as read any text.

3)      Keep up to date of new technologies/inventions – the technological world is leapfrogging. Today having computer access is quite easy, and the internet provides a direct route to knowledge of all new findings and developments for dyslexics. Keep up to date of these changes/developments as you may one day find that these new innovations may dramatically change the quality of your life.

4)      Know when is the right time to “divulge” your dyslexia – Dyslexia is not a disease, but there are quite a few misconceptions that people have about dyslexia. Raising an “I Have Dyslexia Flag” it not always in your best interest. Fine-tune your detection capabilities to determine when is the best time to share with others your “dyslexic” condition.

5)      Re-gain your social confidence– many times dyslexics attending regular educational institutes lose their social confidence during their school years. Schools usually grade students based on the weaker aspects of a dyslexic – his reading and writing abilities. To succeed in life, you must regain your social confidence…

6)      Learn your strengths – People with dyslexia are not the worlds’ most accomplished readers and writers. In a world focused on the written word, dyslexics have a major disadvantage.  However, dyslexics usually boast of high intelligence and “big-picture” / strategic thinking. Learn your strengths, as these must be leveraged in your real-life struggles to compete with those common non-dyslexics :-).

7)      Never ever ever give up – You must always believe in your abilities and to quote the famous Charlie Brown – simply “Never ever ever give up”. The world is full of people who have lost because they simply gave up. But we the dyslexics, who have been struggling more or less from elementary school, are trained for the struggle. We have been trained for disappointments and the ability to overcome these disappointments. We are the ones who shall teach the others to “Never Ever Ever Give Up”.

I will be happy to hear  ideas for “How to Overcome Dyslexia”

Least and not least don’t feel sorry for yourself and smile – it really helps

A new insight I received form my daughter try again and again to convince the person you are working/studding to look at things differently.

Look at Ghotit Real Writer & Reader designed for those with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

 

Dyslexia, Writing Assistive Technology and Grammar Correction

English grammar is not straightforward. As in many languages, English too has a long list of grammar rules and a long list of exceptions to these rules. Now take a person with dyslexia. A dyslexic has to exert his full concentration on subduing the words from dancing up and down, backwards and forwards, and therefore does not have a very wide concentration span on writing correct grammar too.

Writing is harder for people with dyslexia. This is a well-known fact. As they struggle with their spelling, they often ignore their grammar. I am a dyslexic myself. My verbal English is quite good. Rarely do I make grammatical errors when I speak. However, many times when I review some text of mine, I am surprised by the grammatical errors that I have produced. Sometimes I ask myself “Did I really write this?”

Regular spell checkers usually have some grammar checking capabilities. But as with the other features of regular spell checkers, they are not optimized to the needs of a person with dyslexia. The algorithm for spell checkers for people with dyslexia must be much more intelligent as they must deal with much more severe and un-identifiable spelling errors mixed together with some grammar confusion.

As understood from the title itself, Writing Assistive Technology comes to assist people that have special writing disabilities. In order to support a dyslexic in producing legible and high quality written text, a writing assistive technology must also address grammar mistakes. The grammar checker must be integrated together with the spell checker, enabling a maximum secure writing experience for the dyslexic. The grammar checking for dyslexics must be intelligent enough so that even though a written sentence may be completely jumbled it will still be able to offer the correct grammar corrections.

Ghotit leverages its Intelligent Context Correction (ICC) patent-pending technology to correct grammar errors uncorrectable by regular spell checkers. Using this technology, Ghotit is able to find and correct grammar errors also when they are well camouflaged amidst text full of heavily misspelled words.

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No Ifs or Buts – Dyslexics Deserve Extra Exam Time

I remember a while back when I was working at a previous workplace, I entered the coffee lounge and heard two work colleagues talking about the injustice of giving students additional exam time. They raised the issue that many students are abusing this “benefit” unjustly. I remember how I impolitely interrupted their conversation stating that what they just said was complete nonsense and explained that denying students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dysgraphia extra exam time was simply unjust and reflected the general’s public general ignorance on these topics. They of course lacked the ardor that I demonstrated in this discussion and soon enough retreated back to their offices.

IF only these students would work harder they would not need this extra time?

BUT so many students are abusing this extra time loop hole to get improved testing conditions?

My work colleagues were not malicious, dyslexia-phobic people… they simply were quite ignorant to what people with Reading and Writing disabilities experience and did not have the understanding that providing this extra exam time for people with dyslexia can make a real difference between Success or Failure.

“Just as a diabetic requires insulin, an individual who is hearing impaired requires a hearing aid, a man or woman who is a quadriplegic requires a wheelchair, a person who is dyslexic has a profound physiological need for additional time to complete examinations.” – http://dyslexia.yale.edu/Policy_WhyChange.html

Dyslexia is a physiological condition that people are born with. Special learning techniques, together with hard word and special reading and writing assistive technology can ensure that a dyslexic student succeed in both education and his workplace. However, the fact remains that for most dyslexics Reading and Writing will always be more difficult and time-consuming then non-dyslexics. The objectives of examinations are to test the intelligence and knowledge of the examinee on a specific topic. The objective is not to test the speed at which he reads the questions and writes the answers.

Regarding the claim that there are non-dyslexics that abuse this extra time for exams policy, there are 2 replies that I wish to make:

  1. “Data now demonstrate that it is only students who are dyslexic who benefit from additional time. Thus, such college students increase their scores substantially (e.g., 13th percentile to 76th percentile), while typical readers when given extra time on exams increase their scores few to no points (82nd percentile to 83rd percentile).*” – this is taken from Yale’s University website. This research demonstrates that people who really do not have a real difficulty in Reading and Writing will not gain real benefits with the extra time allocated to exams.
  2. So if everybody cheated in a test, should someone who did not cheat be punished too? The obvious answer is NO. By getting additional exam time, the dyslexic student is simply getting equivalent testing conditions as other students. He is not cheating the system. If other students are supposedly “cheating the system”, then let the system take responsibility to stop this cheating without punishing the ones who deserve this benefit; and the system should do so without making the person with dyslexia feel subconscious about getting the benefit he justifiably deserves…

So was I rude when I interrupted my work colleagues’ conversation and loudly stated their ignorance on this topic, perhaps. But it is time to loudly state the rights of the dyslexic community and to educate the public regarding what is dyslexia and what must be done in order to enable dyslexics to fully and hopefully easily integrate into society… and this definitely includes GETTING EXTRA EXAM TIME.


* M. K. Runyan, The Effects of Extratime. In S. Shaywitz & B. Shaywitz, eds., Attention Deficit Disorder Comes of Age: Toward the 21st Century; Austin, Texas: Pro-Ed, 1992.


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Dyslexia, Writing Assistive Technology and Text-to-Speech

People with dyslexia usually have a hard time in both reading and writing. Letters and words get jumbled up in their minds during both reading and writing processes. Reading abilities may be affected by how tired the dyslexic reader is, or how much concentration is needed to comprehend the reading of a certain page.

Writing is usually a stressful process for a person with dyslexia. The person with dyslexia is aware of his problematic writing and knows that he must be on full alert in order to minimize his spelling mistakes. He must dedicate his full concentration to the writing process.

Writing Assistive Technologies focus on providing advanced spell checking algorithms for dyslexics. These are specially tuned algorithms that take into account that dyslexics usually spell really badly and that many times even when giving their full attention can not determine what is the correct spelling.

Integrating Text-to-Speech (TTS) to Writing Assistive Technologies can dramatically improve the writing experience of a dyslexic. There are two main benefits:

  • The first benefit is using Text-to-Speech as the dyslexic’s writing gatekeeper. Sometimes, a person with dyslexia just can not figure out himself the correct spelling of a word, even after proof-reading what he had just written. However, if the text can be read out loud to him, then usually by his understanding of what is being read, and by the pronunciation of the words that he is hearing he can confidently determine if what he had written is correct.
  • The other benefit is that the integrated Text-to-Speech feature enables a person with dyslexia to focus better on his writing. As mentioned above, reading for a dyslexic may also be a stressful event requiring his full attention. If the reading “effort” can be reduced then the person with dyslexia can be more “mentally free” to focus on his writing. The Writing Assistive Technology should have Text-to-Speech integrated at all levels of the product, enabling the user to decide, what he wants to be read out loud: the suspicious word, the meaning of the word (if provided), the full or part of the sentence he just corrected.

Ghotit Writing Assistive Technology solution has a fully integrated Text-to-Speech functionality. Today, whenever I write, I wear my headphones, and have the Text-to-Speech feature assist me in my writing.

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