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.

 

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.


Bookmark and Share

Dyslexia, Charlie Brown and Dilbert

For many years I have been a big fan of both Charlie Brown and Dilbert. That of course is not surprising. Charlie Brown and Dilbert are two extremely popular comics’ heroes. However, when I read somewhere that both the creators of Charlie Brown (creator Charles M. Schulz) and Dilbert (creator Scott Adams) where dyslexic I started wondering if perhaps there was a connection. Perhaps it was not accidental that the two characters that I adored, their creators where dyslexic, exactly like me.

Charlie Brown is presented as a boy that nothing ever goes right for him. But Charlie Brown refuses to give up and possesses an endless amount of determination and hope. I love Charlie Brown’s motto “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”. As you can see, I have adopted the picture with this motto as the graphical icon of this blog…

Dilbert on the other had is a grownup working in a work environment where employees’ skills and efforts are not rewarded and where the most ineffective and least-competent workers are the ones that are promoted to management positions.

When I started thinking about it I realized that as a person with dyslexia it is quite easy for me to identify with these two characters.

As a child, my struggle with learning, reading and writing was a continuous one. I have many negative memories from school and remember it mainly as a place that promoted my insecurities due to my learning differences. However, these experiences drove me to “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”, no matter the difficulties, insecurities and failures. And in this point I truly relate with good old Charlie…

When I grew up and joined the workforce, I felt sometimes that I was working in a Dilbert-like workplace. This too may be related to my dyslexia. Being a dyslexic, my written communications and presentations where not as well “packaged” as those of my co-workers. Sometimes I felt that I was being judged not by my actual contribution, but rather by this external “package” that I carried.

Well here’s to you Charlie Brown – thanks for providing me with multiple scenes where even though your luck seemed to be running out – you never lost your good-heartiness and hope…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjFE9uy3N38&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

And here’s to you Dilbert – thanks for demonstrating in a comical, cynical light the ridiculous aspects a workplace may have…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f35bQPAYhIE&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

Dyslexia: Different Ability, Not Disability

This is a short follow up to my previous blog “What if over 50% of the Population had Dyslexia?

People with dyslexia simply have different abilities, not disabilities. What may seem as a simple word game may have profound affects on a dyslexic’s  self value and confidence. In addition, it may frame the mind set of the overall educational systems and workplaces.

I recently viewed a very cool video exactly on this topic, and really want to share it with you. It is titled “Special Deeds for Special Needs”. So here it is, enjoy:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndlqh38bZmU&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

What if the Majority of the Population had Dyslexia?

I recently came across two interesting data points that made me start thinking: “What if the Majority of the Population had Dyslexia?”

The first was an interesting blog titled “Using “Correct Language” And “People First” by Ira David Socol “ that described how commonly known word categorizations often demean the objects of these categorizations. For example, learning disabled, assumes that the people in this category are disabled. If you look up the definition of the word “disabled” in the Webster dictionary you get the following definition:

Disabled: “incapacitated by illness or injury; also : physically or mentally impaired in a way that substantially limits activity especially in relation to employment or education”.

The second data point that came my way was actually a tweet from a twitter called dughall that simply stated “Dyslexia is not so much about learning ‘difficulties’, but about learning ‘differences’.”

As a ‘heavy’ dyslexic, these two data points triggered a thread of thought. For years I have been told that I had a learning disability called dyslexia. The “regular” school system targets “normal” students. The teaching methods, the facilities are all designed for these “normal” students. The system was not designed for people with dyslexia. If you have dyslexia then you need to get special tutoring, purchase assistive technology, request for special testing conditions etc.

Two facts are well known about dyslexics:

1)      Dyslexia has NOTHING to do with intelligence. Some of humanity’s top contributors are known to have been dyslexic. (You can see the cool video “The Power Of Dyslexia about Famous Dyslexics”)

2)      Dyslexic’s reading and writing processing is performed differently then the “normal” population

It is estimated that 5% to 17% of the population has dyslexia. But what if the majority of the population had dyslexia? What if the majority of the population processed their reading and writing just as dyslexics do?

Then what… Well then… Probably the schools would include in their “regular” Reading and Writing teachings programs that are tuned for dyslexics… Probably leading Word Processing vendors such as Microsoft and Apple would include in their core product what is known today as “Writing and Reading Assistive” technologies… Probably English would have naturally evolved to a language with a higher letter and sound correspondence rate, with less English irregularities (see “Ghoti”) and more simplified English spelling …

My Conclusion:

People with Dyslexia simply have learning differences then the rest of the population…It is only because the “system” is designed today for “normal” people that dyslexics have learning difficulties… and it is only because of how the “normal” people categorize dyslexics that they (we) are called “learning disabled”

Dyslexia and Regular Spell Checkers

Every time I use a regular spell checker it hits me that the people who designed these spell checkers did not have in mind people like me, people who suffer from dyslexia and have really bad spelling. When I use a regular spell checker I receive a word which is underlined in red and I am faced with one of the following problems:

  1. My intended word is not in the suggestions list. This is because my spelling was too far away from the correct spelling (meaning I spell REALLY badly), and the spellchecker simply could not pick up on my intended word.
  2. My intended word is in the suggestions list, but since I am such a bad speller, I have no idea how to select the correct word from the list.

Misused words, words that are spelled correctly but are not the words I intended to write, are also a major issue. I encounter misused words either by entering the misused word originally or selecting a misused (wrong) word from the spell checker’s word suggestion list. I then send these sentences with the misused words out to the world without even knowing what nonsense I have just written. For example, many times I have invited business colleagues for a “Mating” instead of a “Meeting”… I tried all available spellchecking and writing assistance technologies, but none seemed to work for me. After discussing the regular spell checkers limitations with many dyslexics, we began to think and design a spell checker specifically targeting the dyslexic community. Such a spell checker would include the following key capabilities:

  • A spellchecker that can pick up on really bad spelling, and offer the correct suggestions
  • A context spellchecker, that can understand the context of what I am writing, in order to avoid situations where I write a correctly spelled word but it is a  completely different word then the one I intended (misused word)
  • A spellchecker that offers for each suggested word its meaning so that I can easily select the intended word
  • A spellchecker that can read out loud to me what I wrote, to make sure that what I wrote is really what I intended to write.

Ghotit context-spellchecker incorporates all the capabilities listed above. If you are suffering from dyslexia, you should know that Ghotit, unlike regular spellcheckers, was designed specifically to meet your (our) unique spell checking needs.

My Dyslexia and Phonological Processing

First of all I will begin with a short explanation what is Phonological Processing and how it is related to dyslexics.

Phonological processing is the ability to see or hear a word, break it down to discrete sounds, and then associate each sound with letter/s that make up the word. The reason Phonological Processing is related to dyslexics, is because there is a wide consensus that dyslexia stems from a deficit in phonological processing. Good phonological processing seems to be key for strong reading and writing abilities, therefore our weak phonological processing abilities make us poor readers and writers…

So, now what I would like to relay to you is how my phonological processing is performed. It is not that I completely can not break up a word to sounds. But usually, I am able to perform it only to the first and last sounds of the word. So for example the word “unfortunately”, I can translate the sound of the beginning of the word to “un” and also the sound of the end of the word to “ly” but I just can not perform the same processing to all the middle sounds. And then I just have to try and from my visual memory try and remember the picture of the missing letters. But my “visual” memory catalogue isn’t that great so I end up spelling the word “unfortunately” something like “unforchently“.

I can not say also that I am consistent with my spelling errors. Since as I said many times I can not complete the spelling of the word from either the sound processing or from my visual memory, so I simply guess. And at different times I may “guess” different results to the spelling of the same words… so here my lack of consistency comes to play… Here is my try to write again the word “unfortunately”: “unforvently” and again, “unfocantly”.
So as you see I tried 3 times to spell the word “unfortunately” and got 3 different results, none of which regular spellcheckers could offer the correct spelling…

Spelling errors examples

Anyway, this is a blog about my personal phonological processing. If you are dyslexic, it would be interesting to hear how do you perform your “phonological processing”?

And for a solution, look at Ghotit Real Writer and Reader designed for those with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

A Dyslexic Blogger

If someone would review my writing history, he would see that my average sentence length is about three to five words. It is not that I do not have intelligent thoughts to communicate, but simply that my genetic combination determined me to be a dyslexic. Dyslexia is a condition you have for life. I was diagnosed quite early in my life as a dyslexic, which is quite rare for a guy my age (42), since back then dyslexia was not as well known as it is today. My parents invested a lot of effort and time so that I could read & write. I can even say that I had a very unique reading skill that no one else possessed – I was the ONLY one that could read and understand my own writing. That’s because I am such a terrible speller.

Thank god for word processors and spell checkers. With lots of effort, caution and patience I finally had the tools to produce sentences that can be read by others… But still, these word processors were not able to pick up on a lot of my mistakes. That’s when I started limiting my writing vocabulary and producing very short sentences, usually using the words that I know I spell correctly. It was quite aggravating. My fingers were tingling with thoughts that I really wanted or needed to write down, but in order not to send out misspelled writing, I communicated my thoughts with the bare minimum number of words. I personally termed this “bare necessity writing”.

So how come you now finding me blogging away. Well, for years I had in my mind the perfect writing assistive solution that if available, will dramatically improve my writing capabilities. It took awhile, but FINALLY it is available. Together with a team of dedicated friends, family members and help from the dyslexia community, I finally turned my dream into a reality. Ghotit is the solution that is finally enabling me to write LOONNNGGGG sentences and to blog away…

Ghotit revolutionizes writing experience for people with dyslexia

Ghotit released innovative context-based spell checker enabling people with bad spelling to write correctly

Dyslexia is the most prevalent of all known learning disabilities.  According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 15 percent of the population suffers from severe reading and writing difficulties associated with dyslexia.  Dyslexics spend significant time, effort and money to improve their written communication skills.

Ofer Chermesh is a life long dyslexic and one of Ghotit’s founders. The struggle of producing readable text is well known to him. “I have no doubt that the people who designed regular spell checkers did not have in mind people with dyslexia. Regular spell checkers are targeting people with good spelling that occasionally make spelling mistakes, not dyslexics like myself” says Ofer Chermesh.

Regular spell checkers are designed to correct spelling mistakes that are relatively close to the correct spelling. In order to identify the correct spelling of a really badly spelled word, the context of the sentence needs to be analyzed. Ghotit offers novel patent-pending context spell checking technology tuned for people with dyslexia and bad spelling. Using these algorithms Ghotit can pick up and correct not only really bad spelled words but also misused words, words that are spelled correctly, but are written out of context.

As a solution designed by people with dyslexia, Ghotit has integrated into its spell checker unique features aimed to radically change the writing experience of dyslexics. Ghotit has integrated a dictionary service so that all suggested words are presented with their meanings. In addition, Ghotit has integrated a text-to-speech service so that the user can make sure that what he wrote is exactly what he intended to communicate.

Ghotit launched its Online Free Service on February 2008 and spent the past year optimizing Ghotit context-sensitive algorithms. It has a demonstrated around 95% successful correction of poorly spelled text. In February, 2009 Ghotit released its Microsoft Plug-in for Microsoft Word for Windows. Once the Ghotit Plug-in is downloaded, it is installed as an extension to Microsoft Word, providing an integrated user writing experience.

“Ghotit spellchecker was designed for people like me, people who have completely lost their confidence to write. With Ghotit, I now write confidently, continuing to misspell as I always have, but with the confidence that Ghotit is there with me to review my writing and offer the right corrections” says Ofer Chermesh.

Though initially designed for people with dyslexia, Ghotit has demonstrated success for people with other writing and reading difficulties such as people that use English as their Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learners (ELL) enabling them to move to main stream English Writing.  

About Ghotit- Ltd.

Ghotit was founded in 2007. Ghotit’s mission is to improve the overall quality of life of a person who has endured an ongoing battle with writing correctly in English. Ghotit is not a treatment for bad spelling. It’s a set of services that assists adults and kids to overcome their writing and reading difficulties by helping to convert their poorly spelled writing to mainstream English.

For more information, visit https://www.ghotit.com/