Most of us do not put much thought into reading, but not everybody has this privilege. Dyslexia is a cognitive disability that impacts someone’s abilities to read, write, or spell. Letters that look similar and sound similar—such as n and m, w and m, and p, b, d, and q—are most frequently mixed up. To illustrate this, reading the sentence “Briana went to the park to walk her dog” may be read as “Briana wemt to the dark to malk her bog” for an individual with dyslexia. While some of us may mix these letters up occasionally, individuals with dyslexia chronically mix letters up to the point that it interferes with their daily life.
How common is dyslexia?
The DyslexiaHelp organization at the University of Michigan notes that 7 to 10% of the population have dyslexia. Individuals with dyslexia also represent around 70 to 80% of the population that have reading difficulties. While dyslexia impairs an individual’s ability to read, write, or spell, this impairment does not affect one’s intelligence.
Dyslexia can lead to slow reading, poor language, messy handwriting, and a limited vocabulary. Behavioral issues such as tantrums, crying, and isolation may also manifest due to frustration. With proper treatment, impairment due to dyslexia can be improved. Children are especially adept at responding to treatment due to their remarkable ability to learn and adapt.
Assistive technology is a type of device or application designed to ease the symptoms of a disability. In the case of treating symptoms of dyslexia, assistive technology has been refined throughout the years and garnered large satisfaction among users.
Scientists such as Tamik and Latif from the National University of Sciences and Technology are carrying out promising research for the development and accessibility of assistive technology for individuals with dyslexia. Putting the application they developed to the test, they found that their app helps significantly improves the writing for kids with dyslexia. In a study by Draffan and colleagues looking at how assistive technology is used among 455 students with dyslexia, 90% of subjects found it helpful.
Not only can assistive technology make things easier at the moment, but there can also be transfer effects which are benefits generalized to other things. A 2017 study by Lindeblad and colleagues put 35 children with dyslexia in a specialized program utilizing assistive technology applications. A year follow-up indicated that the children’s literacy increased at the same rate as their non-dyslexic peers.
Newer smartphones are becoming increasingly sophisticated and accessible for a diverse range of users. With smartphones, assistive technology is at our fingertips!
While a smartphone is easily accessible and can aid with alleviating symptoms of dyslexia, we at GKIS recommend that you consult with a school or private disability program prior to app adoption. Specialized programs will not only help you assess the severity of the learning disability, but they often give you access to specially designed tools that are straightforward and multifunctional.
Here are few steps on optimizing your kid’s smartphone experience:
To have your smartphone read to you, simply highlight a word, sentence, or the entire page. To set this up on your iPhone, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content, then turn on the speech selection. For Android phones, download the Android Accessibility Suite by Google LLC, then go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Installed Services, then turn on Select to Speak.
Simply, dictation is defined as translating spoken word into text. While there are specific disability devices that offer this, the latest smartphones are now equipped for dictation. Click here to learn how to use dictation for iPhone. Click here to learn how to use dictation for Android.
Recording devices have proven as useful aids for individuals with dyslexia. Not only will they be able to reference the class discussion with full detail, but they can also feel at ease now that they can write notes at their own pace. To access the Voice Memos app quickly on iPhone, go to Settings -> Control Center, then click the green plus button to add the shortcut to the Control Center. On Android, the built-in app “Voice Recorder” is located in the App drawer.
Scanning and Reading
Scanning and reading pens are often distributed through disability services. However, many smartphones are now able to do this. With the application Prizmo, you can scan a typed document which will then translate into text. From here, you can use the text-to-speech functions on your smartphone to have it read out loud to you.
With an iPhone, you can go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text, and from here, you can turn on Bold Text. From this same page, you can also go to “Larger Text” and play around with the sizes to fit one that works best for your child. On Androids, you can go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Font Size, and play with the options from here.
Note: Due to the wide range of Android devices, the provided Android settings may be accessed differently depending on the version.
The Internet is host to an endless stream of potential sources that can help your child, but it is important to be careful of any potential marketing ploys that are from unverified sources or people without credentials. To help provide your child and yourself with a keen-eye on spotting scams, check out our How to Spot Marketing supplement that is the perfect addition to your free Connected Family Agreement.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Photo by Avery Flower
 Azorín, E. I., Martin-Lobo, P., Vergara-Moragues, E., & Calvo, A. (2019). Profile and neuropsychological differences in adolescent students with and without dyslexia. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 51(2), 83–92.
 Assistive Technology Industry Association. (n.d.). What is AT? Retrieved from https://www.atia.org/home/at-resources/what-is-at/
 Tariq, R., & Latif, S. (2016). A mobile application to improve learning performance of dyslexic children with writing difficulties. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(4), 151–166.
 Draffan, E. A., Evans, D. G., & Blenkhorn, P. (2007). Use of assistive technology by students with dyslexia in post-secondary education. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2(2), 105–116. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csuci.edu/10.1080/17483100601178492
 Lindeblad, E., Nilsson, S., Gustafson, S., & Svensson, I. (2017). Assistive technology as reading interventions for children with reading impairments with a one-year follow-up. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 12(7), 713–724. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csuci.edu/10.1080/17483107.2016.1253116