Albert Einstein Interviewed about Dyslexia

The following is an interview performed by Ofer Chermesh, the founder of Ghotit, the leading writing and reading assistive technology for dyslexics, and Mr. Albert Einstein that suffers from learning disability like many other famous people, the man synonymous with the word GENIUS and the world’s most famous dyslexic. All of Mr. Albert Einstein texts are exact quotes.

Ofer: Thank you, Mr. Albert Einstein, for joining this interview. And thank you also very much for being a dyslexic genius. One of the major misconceptions that people have is that people with dyslexia have a lower intelligence. That is ridiculous of course…

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”.

Ofer: Your son Hans Einstein has be quoted as saying that your “ teachers reported that . . . you were mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams”. How do you describe your experiences at school and with your teachers?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know. Whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing”.

Ofer: Any insights for dyslexics who are struggling with their studies at school?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school”. “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Ofer: You know, Ghotit, the company I have founded offers a unique spelling and grammar checker. It offers a solution that I as a heavy dyslexic have been dreaming about my whole life. What guidance can you provide for Ghotit?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Ofer: Developing an intelligent spell checker that offers word suggestions based on the context of the sentence has taken a longer time then expected?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity!”

Ofer: So what do you see in the future of Ghotit?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”

Ofer: Any business recommendations for Ghotit?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.”

Ofer: Any final words?

Mr. Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”.

* Nobody really knows if Einstein was indeed dyslexic.

Since we published this blog, we have learned about its popularity. I wonder why so many dyslexics look with admiration at Einstein?

I believe that the following solution would have been appealing to Mr. Albert  Einstein.

 

Understanding how dyslexics write

 

Mom – My Personal Spell Checker

When I started to learn to write (in the mid 70s) there were no personal computers and no available computer word processors. As a terrible dyslexic speller, I had only one spell checker available – my mother. She was my personal spell checker.

On the one hand her processing time was quite slow, as she had great difficulty understanding my handwriting and spelling; but on the other hand her correction accuracy was quite high, as she always knew the context of what I had written, and therefore could make very educated guesses to what I intended to write.

Once my mother finished correcting my text, the paper sheet was so full of crossed out words and corrections, that I always needed to copy the text to a clean sheet of paper… which usually meant copying the text with mistakes again and going through an additional iteration with my mother… and then being requested by my mother to read out loud what was written… the process was tedious and tiring, many  times resulting in one of us losing our patience.

Years passed by, and the personal computers overtook the world. By the end of the 80’s I owned my own personal computer, and was using the word processing software WordPerfect and its spell checker. When Microsoft Word 95 added its underlining spell checker, I adopted the Microsoft’s squiggly-red spelling errors markings.

But though Microsoft’s word spell checker processing was extremely faster than my mother… the correction accuracy was quite low… Microsoft often gave me wrong suggestions… or no suggestions at all, as it simply could not decipher my spelling… as Microsoft had no understanding to the context of what I was writing about.

Microsoft Word spell checker failed to provide me the value that Mom my personal spell checker provided.  That’s why years later I founded Ghotit – the only spell checker designed for dyslexia spelling.  And Ghotit has adopted some of the same spell checking characteristics displayed by Mom my personal spell checker:

  • Ghotit boasts of context-based algorithms, understanding the intended word from the context of the written text itself
  • Ghotit is patient – supporting correction re-iterations based on additional corrections and inputs provided by the user
  • Ghotit  can be asked to read out the text out loud

PS After so many years… I believe Mom my personal spell checker has finally met her match

Ten Reasons Why It Is Difficult for a Person with Dyslexia to Spell Correctly

Spelling with dyslexia is not an easy play:

1)  It is difficult for a person with dyslexia to break words into phonemes/discrete sounds.

2)  The more phonemes/discrete sounds a word possesses, the bigger the challenge of deconstructing a word correctly to its phonemes.

3)  It is more difficult for a person with dyslexia to deconstruct the “middle” phonemes of a word, rather than the first and last phonemes.

4)  It is difficult for a person with dyslexia to associate sounds to letters that make up the sound.

5)  People with dyslexia tend to reverse letters in words (e.g. “on” instead of “no”).

6)  People with dyslexia tend to confuse letters that are visually similar (e.g. “bad” instead of “dad”).

7) People with dyslexia tend to confuse letters that sound similar. (e.g. “sity” instead of “city”).

8 ) People with dyslexia do not have strong visual memory for spelling. For example they will not be able to distinguish from memory the correct spelling of the word of “meet” versus the word “meat”.

9) People with dyslexia have difficulty to gain meaning from text.

10) Regular spell checkers are not “optimized” to understand and correct the spelling of a dyslexic.

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

Seeing Your Dyslexic Child’s Writing For The First Time

Millions of kids have recently started going to school worldwide, about 10% of them suffering from dyslexia.

As the year unfolds, some parents of first and second graders will see for the first time the written text that their son or daughter has just written, and will ask themselves “ What is this? What gibberish has my son or daughter produced?”

For some of these parents this will be the first indication of their child’s writing disability, and their initiation as dyslexic parents…

As a lifelong dyslexic and a dyslexia advocate, I would like to provide these parents my non-scientific definition of  “dyslexia spelling” – spelling produced by dyslexics…

Dyslexia Spelling = Phonetic Spelling + Creative Spelling

What is Phonetic Spelling?

When you’re dictating a word and tell your son or daughter that he should write what he hears, a child, including a dyslexic, will attempt to map the sounds in the words to the sounds of the letters.

However, English is not a phonetic language. There are a very large number of English words where there is a gap between how the word sounds and how the word is actually spelled. Not to mention, there are many times multiple correct phonetic options to a sound (for example: k , c, ck, and qu all sound about the same)…

What is Creative Spelling?

Given that English spelling is not phonetic, and per each sound may have several spelling options, a lot of correct English spelling is dependent on the visual memory of a written word. If you have good visual memory of words, you will be able to spell a word correctly simply by writing it down, and from memory deciding if this is the correct spelling.

But people with dyslexia, have very poor and consistent visual memory of spelled words, and therefore can hardly rely on their visual memory of words.  (see my example of how I spell the word “unfortunately” in a previous Ghotit Post – My Dyslexia and Phonological Processing.)

Not to mention that dyslexics sometimes simply confuse the direction of letters, and though they meant to write the letter “b” actually end up writing the letter “d”…

I term all the above spelling challenges as “creative spelling”. It is “creative” in the sense, that given that a person simply has no idea of how to spell correctly certain syllables of a word, he creatively makes them up as he writes. And each time he “creates” a word’s spelling, it usually ends up as a different spelling creation.

Can a regular spell checker correct dyslexia spelling?

If English was a phonetic language, then regular spell checkers who have implemented phonetic spelling rules would probably provide some value for dyslexics with poor visual spelling memory…

However, English is not a phonetic language, and therefore the “creative spelling” of a person with dyslexia must be taken into account in a spell checker. However the “creative” spelling of a dyslexic is basically “noise” and therefore any computerized program, such as a regular spell checker, that tries to correct a single word at a time (and not based on the context of the sentence) is doomed to fail… That is why Microsoft spell checker many times simply fails to correct a heavily misspelled word written by a dyslexic.

Context-based spell-checkers for dyslexia spelling

Here is where benefits of a context spell checker such as Ghotit’s Contextual Spell Checker come to play. Context-based spell checkers not analyze directly the “creative spelling” of each word written by a dyslexic, but rather based on the context of what was written, intelligently offers corrections, predicting what was actually intended to be written.

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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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A Dyslexic Spell Checker – Holic

A few days ago I went to sort out some open bureaucracy issue. After an hour of presenting my case to the clerk, the clerk handed me a form and I was asked to write on the spot my request. Suddenly I felt sweat all over me – I had just encountered my worse fear – I must write a letter without any spell checker assistance.

I started writing the letter, and after a few minutes I looked at the paper and saw that my worst nightmare had come true. The paper looked graphically like it had suffered a tsunami… the lines were so crooked … the size of the letters uneven… the paper full of words that I had absolutely no idea if I had spelled correctly, but being familiar with my spelling track record, assumed were spelled completely wrong… The language too was really plain and dull as I tried to express myself in words which I had some confidence that I could spell right…

When I reread what I wrote, I felt that the overall presentation of my case was really poor, and that I would not get very far with such a written request… I quietly approached the clerk, and told him that I had to run and that I would return with the written request soon… Of course I was running off to my computer with my word processor and friendly spell checker…

I am not used to writing any more with a pen and paper. I believe that is true for many of us who perform most of their writing using a computer. As a heavy dyslexic, I have struggled my whole life with very poor spelling. My spelling is so poor, that I even found conventional spell checker not providing the assistance I required. I finally went and developed (with assistance of course) a spell checker optimized for people like me, for people with dyslexia. And today following this paper-writing exercise, I must admit that I have become a true Spell Checker – Holic – I just cannot write anymore without a friendly SpellChecker at my side…

Disabled – maybe… but the disability appears only in very rare occasions, and when I have my friendly spellchecker at my side I can write my case as well as anyone else…

Try the Ghotit SpellChecker at: www.ghotit.com

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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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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/