Ghotit iPad Apps Bundle – Dyslexia and Dysgraphia App Kit

Ghotit offers two iPad dedicated apps for dyslexia and dysgraphia:

We keep receiving many questions on the difference between these two applications. Most inquiries are as follows, “My son/daughter/etc. is a dyslexic. Which tool fits him/her best, Ghotit Real Writer or Dyslexia Keyboard?”

Both apps use Ghotit’s core high-tech assistive technology features such as Ghotit Text Correction, Ghotit Quick Spell Word-Prediction, Ghotit Talking Dictionary etc., and both are recommended by Michigan University / Understood.

Ghotit Real Writer (“Dyslexia Editor”) is a text editor. It provides simple word-processing functions applying the same set of assistive features as Dyslexia Keyboard. Ghotit Real Writer has the benefits of an attention concentrating environment. It is particularly helpful and recommended for children and adults with severe dyslexia/dysgraphia.

Dyslexia Keyboard was created for the more advanced users, for those who mastered the basic skills needed for routine use of Ghotit Real Writer. When the initial barrier of using an editor is acquired and those experiencing a dyslexia/dysgraphia disability have gained enough confidence, they may start writing directly to browsers, Pages, Office, social networks, etc. This is the context where Dyslexia Keyboard comes to help.

Thus, the correct answer to the question about the most appropriate Ghotit app is: “You need both: One app for the start and the other for the days to come.”

That’s why Ghotit just debuted a bundle of Ghotit Apps for iPad containing both apps for a reduced price.

The bundle is available from iTunes

 

Dysgraphia Treatments

Dysgraphia is a difficulty in handwriting and in the ability to produce a coherent piece of handwriting. Even though the handwriting of all dysgraphics is impaired, symptoms aren’t necessarily identical. Some perform copying tasks successfully, but their spelling is flawed, other express physical difficulties in writing letters indicated by the investment of exceptional efforts in accomplishing simple writing tasks. Still, other, spread their texts in an unordered ways, making it chaotic and illegible.

Scientists classified dysgraphia into the following three main types:

  • Motor Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexic Dysgraphia
  • Spatial Dysgraphia

The causes of motor dysgraphia are poor dexterity, deficient motor skills or poor muscle tone. People with motor dysgraphia need very much time and a huge effort to form letters. The writing in this case is illegible or poor at its best, and drawing is difficult. The finger tapping of these people is below normal, and though the spelling is normal, many times the writing is slanted because of holding the pen incorrectly.

In the case of dyslexic dysgraphia, people’s spelling is poor and their spontaneous writing is illegible but their copied work is pretty good. The normal finger tapping of the people with dyslexic dysgraphia indicates the deficit does not stem from cerebellar damage.

People with spatial dysgraphia have a problem understanding the space. Both their spontaneous work and copied work will be illegible in most cases and their abilities to write suffer as well. This disability is not fine motor based as the finger tapping sped and the spelling is normal in people with spatial dysgraphia.

These three analytical types serve as gross description of real life people. Many dysgraphics, though, exhibit mixed symptoms, a bit of motor dysgraphia mixed with a bit of dyslexic dysgraphia, etc.

 

Each of these pure types deserves a different approach, but since these distinctions are in practice are not clear-cut, the outcomes are frequently disappointing.

The treatment of Motor Dysgraphia is a frustrating experience since affected individuals exhibit deficient fine motor skills or muscle issues vulnerabilities. For these people writing is a very difficult task, and it requires lots of time and efforts. For motor dysgraphics, dictation is helpful and they can be assisted by using the excellent Siri on Mac/iOS, Google dictation on Android as well as fast improving Microsoft dictation available at Windows-10. The text after dictation should be further corrected to fix all confused words, possible homophones and punctuation errors – this is where Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 6 and Ghotit Apps are helpful.

Yet another option in certain cases of Motor Dysgraphia is to try Word-Prediction techniques. In general, Word-Prediction is supposed to decrease significantly writing efforts and to make typing a more pleasant experience. However, standard tools fail to provide useful predictions on typing or spelling errors. Ghotit’s Quick Spell Word-Prediction finds a way to correct them on fly and provide the right predictions even if some of the first letters are misspelled.

Ghotit’s Quick Spell Word-Prediction reads aloud suggested predictions and has an integrated talking dictionary explaining meanings and/or bringing usage examples for the predictions. Therefore, it is helpful for those with Dyslexic Dysgraphia where motor skills are fine, but written text shows multiple irregularities.

Proofreading of the written text, particularly with dual highlighting of the currently read phrase and the word, could make a real difference in the case of Dyslexic Dysgraphia and help to spot and fix the errors. But the best and most proven assistance could be a combination of proofreading with Text Correction (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation) software particularly designed for this case: Ghotit Real Writer & Reader has embedded proofreading tools and Text Correction specifically designed for such writers whenever their writing is phonetic or non-phonetic.

And last, Spatial Dysgraphia. People with Spatial Dysgraphia, where keeping writing in lines and organizing text on a page are the major issues of handwriting, are normally spelling good and expressing well using computer keyboard. The remaining punctuation issues as well as splitting long phrases to short sentences could be mostly fixed by Ghotit Real Writer & Reader punctuation correction.

 

In conclusion: Ghotit Real Writer & Reader provides full writing, reading and text correction support for all types of dysgraphia and dyslexia (see Ghotit video at the Ghotit Home Page).

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).

Dyslexia Reading Problems

There are most probably millions of reading problems and zillions of causes for these problems, and I cannot claim I am an expert in any of them.

Still, no one can assist people with their reading problems without letting them at least starting with a classification of their problem.

There are at least three types of reading problems

  1. General reading problem
  2. Problem in focusing on a sentence or a word
  3. Problem in reading text in the context of an image

Experts in assistive technology specialize in offering technological solution for all three types of problems and most of my time as an assistive technologist is dedicated for developing and offering answers to these dyslexia reading problems.

How can these three types of problems be mitigated by assistive technology?

The first, and more common issue, can be approached by text to speech technology, adding our hearing sense to the reading experience. Joining forces, adding hearing to sight, increases comprehension significantly.

The second obstacle is an attention issue, subnormal ability to focus attention on a specific detail, a word or a sentence, in the context of paragraph or a page. The double coloring reader method can be applied to solve this problem. By marking a sentence with a discernible color and simultaneously mark words in row with another color, the energy needed for reading decreases significantly and reading follows smoother.

Comprehending test inside an image raises formidable difficulties to most dyslexics. Quite frequently images are multi-color constructs. Their creators invest more effort in esthetics than in easing understanding.   We all encountered captchas, these annoying images commonly used to confirm you, the surfer are a human being, not a robot. Many times I hoped for the showing up of a technological savior, freeing me from the confusing image. Screenshot reader method is exactly this technological savior for the learning disable. It is an extracting tool, putting the confusing colors and forms aside, and leaving us exactly where we want, reading the text.

Phonological Memory

The ability to hold on to speech-based information in short-term memory is called phonological memory. We rely heavily on our phonological memory when reading and spelling. This skill is assessed by asking students to remember strings of numbers or to repeat nonsense words of increasing length and complexity. Students with poor phonological memory are unable to hold as much phonological information in mind as their age-matched peers. When recalling nonsense words, they tend to forget parts of the word and/or confuse the sounds and sequence of sounds in the word. Students with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia often have weaknesses in phonological memory.

Difficult Times for Dyslexic Kids and Teenagers.

The summer vacation is almost over, and millions of kids and teenagers are about to return to school. As a dyslexic child, I remember these days to be very difficult.

The end of the summer break was a time when, on the one hand I could still smell Summer’s activities when my dyslexia and dysgraphia did not affect me, and on the other hand the clock was ticking in my head with alarming sound, saying, so and so days to school, so and so days back to facing my writing and reading limitations, or even more so, facing a new class and unfamiliar teachers.

I hope this short blog will help parents of kids and teenagers with dyslexia understand why this is a hard time for their dyslectic kid.

Famous Adults with Learning Disabilities.

Nelson Rockefeller – at the age of 9 he did not know the letters of the alphabet.

He was thought of as dull and backward.  He entered Davidson College, but he had to withdraw because of illness.  Later he went to Princeton, but his grades were mediocre.

Thomas Edison – His head was large at birth.  His mother did not agree with those who felt that the child was abnormal. He was sent to school, but the teacher thought him to be mentally ill.

The mother withdrew the child from school and taught him herself.

As it turned out, he might have done well in vocational education.

Frank W. Woolworth – was labeled slow as a child.  He clerked in a village grocery store.

He suggested putting slow-merchandise on a counter and selling it at a reduced rate.  It turned out to be an excellent idea.

Greg Luganis – had extreme difficulty in reading; some people used to say that he was clumsy.

He has been high up in his field for many years.  Because of his background, he might be labeled both learning disabled and disadvantaged.

George Patton – When he was twelve years old, he could not read, and he remained deficient in reading all his life.  However, he could memorize entire lectures, which was how he got through school.  That never stopped him from marching ahead.

Walt Disney – as a child he was slow in school work.  About the only thing this apparently right-brained individual had gone for him was his vivid imagination, which used to bother his teachers, especially when he doodled.

Winston Churchill – failed grade eight, did terrible in math, and generally hated school.  Still, he was upset by people who were “inebriated by the exuberance of their own verbosity”.

Woodrow Wilson –  had great difficulty in reading; in fact, throughout his life, he was unable to read well.  Despite this, he was extremely successful in politics.

Albert Einstein – did not learn to read until he was nine.  His teachers considered him mentally slow, unsociable and a dreamer.  He failed the entrance examinations to college but finally passed them after an additional year of preparation.  He lost three teaching positions and then became a patent clerk.

Hans Christian Anderson – had difficulty in reading and writing, but for years people have cherished his wonderful stories, all of which had to be dictated to a scribe.

Tom Cruise – despite being a success in his chosen field, this entertainer can learn lines only by listening to a tape.  He is formally diagnosed dyslexic.

Agatha Christie – had a learning disability called dysgraphia, which prevented any understood or legible written work.  As a result, all material had to be dictated to a typist/transcriptionist.
 

Dysgraphia Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms to dysgraphia are often overlooked or attributed to the student being lazy, unmotivated, not caring, or having delayed visual-motor processing.

To diagnose Dysgraphia, one must have more than one of the following symptoms:

  1. Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
  2. Odd wrist, arm, body, or paper orientations such as creating an L-shape with your arm
  3. Excessive erasures
  4. Mixed upper case and lower case letters
  5. Inconsistent form and size of letters, or unfinished letters
  6. Misuse of lines and margins
  7. Inefficient speed of copying
  8. Inattentiveness over details when writing
  9. Frequent need of verbal cues
  10. Referring heavily on vision to write
  11. Poor legibility
  12. Handwriting abilities that may interfere with spelling and written composition
  13. Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
  14. May feel pain while writing

It’s very difficult to Diagnose Dysgraphia; therefore, parents and educators need to be aware of Dysgraphia signs and symptoms and ask for professional diagnostics. Different types of dysgraphia require different approaches to their treatment; please, look at our blog devoted to Dysgraphia Types and Treatments.
 

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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