What Are the Different Types of Dyslexia Software?

L. Baran

While the reading disability dyslexia cannot be cured, a number of methods can be used to teach coping strategies that will help children and adults manage the condition. A popular type of tool to help improve symptoms and make literacy tasks easier is dyslexia software, in which computer programs are used to aid in phonetic awareness, spelling, writing and more. Types of dyslexia resources include spell checkers, visual concept programs, phonetics software, text to speech and speech to text.

Children who struggle with dyslexia may be aided by software specifically designed to help them read.
Children who struggle with dyslexia may be aided by software specifically designed to help them read.

The most basic types of dyslexia software are grammar and spell checking programs, which highlight for the user any words that are spelled incorrectly and can make suggestions for grammatical improvement. Words are typed into the software, and visual feedback is provided when spelling errors are made, alerting users to possible letter substitutions or reversals. Many people with dyslexia are visual learners and thinkers. Dyslexia software exists that will transform ideas and concepts into a visual representation form. For example, the steps of a task can be represented by pictures or icons rather than words.

A common issue amongst people with dyslexia is the tendency to look at the whole word when reading, rather than parts of the word. This can lead to errors resulting from small differences between similar words or similarly shaped letters. Many types of dyslexia software, particularly designed for younger children, attempt to address this problem by focusing on phonetics, or the sounds of individual letters that combine to make words. By learning to focus on the sounds that make up a word, rather than attempting to sight read the whole word, children can omit many of the common mistakes associated with dyslexia.

For people with difficulty reading the written word, software using a text-to-speech feature can be particularly useful. Such programs allow sentences and paragraphs to be imported, and the words are subsequently read aloud to the user. Many programs allow users to select the accent or gender of the speaker, the rate of speech, and the pitch. Text can be imported from Web sites and emails or typed in manually. Conversely, it is also possible for people to speak into a program and have it turn that speech into text.

Dyslexia software ranges from free programs that can be downloaded by anyone with a basic computer to expensive software suites requiring specialist equipment. Many school districts and libraries offer programs free to students to supplement their learning. Parents and teachers should evaluate the individual needs of each student before selecting a piece of software. They should look for a free trial if possible to see if the program will be compatible with the student's learning style.

Dyslexia is a form of reading disability in which letters and symbols are processed incorrectly in the brain, resulting in difficulty with reading, spelling and writing. This disability has no connection to people's intelligence or comprehension of text, but rather their ability to process what they see in their brains. By using some of the many different types of programs designed to aid people with dyslexia, the performance of daily tasks at school, work and home can become far more efficient and less frustrating.

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