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 in Google Docs as a part of the product presentation at Ghotit Video).

Are Certain Jobs Particularly Suited to Dyslexics?

My dyslexic librarian – are certain jobs particularly suited to dyslexics or is their jobs for dyslexics?

Despite being a dyslexia specialist, even I was surprised when my local librarian told me she was dyslexic. As my mother said “I bet she left that off her application form”.  Being dyslexic definitely makes me a better tutor; I imagine it makes her a more knowledgeable and sensitive librarian.  I was just a little shocked, which made me realise that deep down I’m still a bit insecure about my own dyslexia.  I personally know lots of teachers who are closet dyslexics, but dare we tell anyone?

Society seems to be content with the notion that the creativity of many dyslexics leads them to become successful artists, musicians, actors, designers and filmmakers.  We also find it understandable that many seek fulfilment far from the world of books, a few becoming elite athletes, famous sports people or military heroes.   With bullying rife, maybe we can all identify with fellow dyslexic Mohammed Ali sometimes.   However, not all children are destined for physical or artistic excellence.

Lots of people talk about dyslexia as a gift, but do many people honestly believe this?  I think that one of the biggest difficulties facing dyslexics is nothing to do with reading, writing or memory, but instead low expectations.  If the 2003 Tulip Financial Research findings are accurate that 40% of self-made millionaires are dyslexic, then low expectations may be ill-founded.  The ability to see the big picture and come up with innovative solutions to problems has produced billionaires like Richard Branson and a string of powerful U.S. presidents.

If you have this dyslexic mind, do particular doors open and others clang shut?  Maybe.  Because of their lateral thinking and spatial awareness, one famous practice of architects actually prefers to employ dyslexics.  Should we all be architects?  My drawing skills aren’t going to feed my cat, let alone me.

Whilst most dyslexics find school challenging and often are happier later in life when they can pursue the things they are good at, there are always exceptions.  Counter-intuitively, it’s possible to find famous dyslexic role models in heavily paper-based careers like the law or that require many years of arduous study, such as doctors.

If you imagine one of the few careers you’d never get dyslexics in would be writing, guess again!  Whether you’re more interested in the critical acclaim of WB Yeats, or the wealth of Agatha Christie, I guess the lesson is not to write people off.  With the right help in the right ways, dyslexia doesn’t have to stop you achieving your dreams, whatever they are, and it might even be a benefit!

Some food for thought: if the rumours of a possible cure for dyslexia become a reality, should we want it?  Would the world be a better place without the achievements  of Leonardo da Vinci, the films of Walt Disney, the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, the music of Lennon or Mozart, the art of Picasso, the buildings of Lord Rogers, the discoveries of Thomas Edison, the victory of Winston Churchill, or the genius of Albert Einstein?

Dyslexia Help @ Work

Ghotit host from time to time guest blog posts about dyslexia.

The writers of these posts may be dyslexics, dyslexic family members, dyslexic tutors, teachers, assistive technology specialists or any other writer as long as the post provides quality information about dyslexia.

This hosted post by The Tutor Pages.

Originally this blog was posted in 2012 since then potentially employers started to look how a candidate look in the social network and that can be a real problem to many people with dyslexia.

A personal note: always try to be creative, think out of the box and look at Ghotit’s Software and Apps designed to help dyslexics.

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

 

Teaching Disabilities of a Parent with Dyslexia

“If you don’t want your teacher to think you are an idiot, you better ask your mother to help you in this homework writing assignment”.

This is what I spurted out to my daughter who recently started 1st grade. My daughter asked for my assistance in one of her first writing homework assignments.  Just to clarify I am a heavy dyslexic and a terrible speller.  A second after I said this sentence I regretted it. My 6 year old daughter did not really catch the meaning of what I said, except of course to understand that to get homework assistance she better go to my wife.

The homework assignment of my daughter who has just started first grade was simple enough. She had to write a certain letter in a row of squares drawn on a sheet of paper.  My daughter asked me to see if she had written the letters properly inside each one of the squares. Sounds simple enough. But my “dyslexic eyes” couldn’t for the life of me figure out if the letter was written inside or outside the square. To my eyes, the letters just floated around on the paper…

When I started to think about it, it occurred to me that helping my daughter in language assignments was very problematic:

  1. Most of the homework assignments of kids in first grades are technical writing and spelling assignments – directly focusing on my main dyslexic spelling weaknesses
  2. I realized that since my daughter has no previous “spelling knowledge”, so if I teach her a wrong spelling of a word, she will automatically learn and adopt the misspelling

A few days later, we were driving in the car. My daughter had learned her first 8 alphabet letters, and my wife was saying out words that included only these letters and asking my daughter to spell them. I stayed quiet during this session, and was quite happy when my second daughter who is in kindergarten asked to also participate by asking her simple arithmetic questions. Thank God  I don’t have dyscalculia and could participate in this educational family game.

All of these minor incidents made me start thinking: Which role can I play in my daughters’ studies? Do I suffer not only from learning disabilities but also from teaching disabilities?

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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 and Marriage

I celebrated this week my 10th wedding anniversary. My wife recently submitted an article titled “Dyslexia and Marriage”, summarizing her 10-year ride of being married to a dyslexic (meaning me). In the article, my wife narrates our 10-year relationship that starts with the initial understanding of what is dyslexia, continues with understanding the implications of living with a person with dyslexia, and ends with the dreams and hopes wished for our children.
I would like to share with you this article. It is in the initial process of being distributed and can be found at: Dyslexia and Marriage.

I will let Mr. Frank Sinatra be my voice about  “Love and Marriage”.