There are so many great tools in app stores these days, but here are a few of my favorite tools for assistive technology. The IDEA defines assistive technology as being “any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.” It allows students with dyslexia to access and communicate information with ease and with confidence.
Text-to-speech apps & extensions
- Dragon Dictate is free for iPads and works well, especially once it learns your voice
- all iOS devices have speech-to-text (access System Preferences, then Dictation & Speech on laptops, where you can set up any shortcut you’d like for setting up speech-to-text. New computers come with the shortcut of pressing “fn” (bottom left corner) twice
- there are several Chrome extensions to use (e.g. when typing in Google Docs), but I haven’t found one yet that works as reliably as the ones built-in on most devices. Simple Dictation works best, though, if you are on a Chromebook
- steps for Windows computers here
OCR turns images/pdf’s into text or ebooks. Helpful for academics (e.g. taking pictures of textbooks) as well as practical life (taking pictures of menus, signs, etc.). All of these allow students to use text-to-speech apps, to annotate better, and/or to click on words for definitions and pronunciations.
- Free OCR
- Onenote: Onenote is the best Microsoft option. For step-by-step directions, click here.
- Google Docs: You can upload jpegs into Google Docs, and it writes the text version of the form/image below! Steps are here.
Spelling and Grammar tools
- built in to all Chrome apps (Google Docs, etc.) and Gmail, and Microsoft Office Suite
- Ginger keyboard for mobile devices has spelling & grammar check, prediction, swipe-like features, suggestions for alternative phrasing, definitions, translation, the works! It even comes with built-in text-to-speech.
For a list of spelling apps that are helpful in conjunction with a multi-sensory spelling interventions, click here.