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Using Text To Speech Technology To Assist Dyslexic Students

Davis Graham wanted to participate. His teachers could not understand why he was so resistant to learning. He almost completely gave up on his education. Mr. Graham, a life-long dyslexia advocate, has dyslexia and he was not alone. Eighty percent of children who have a learning disability are also impacted by dyslexia. This is a staggering number of students.

With technology we can tackle some of the challenges facing these students. Even changing how we view these differences.

I asked a friend of mine, Tony Wright, who has two children with dyslexia, what he would change in the world of education. He said we need a change in perception because, “In a perfect world, my children’s learning differences would be accepted as differences, not disabilities. Their peers would understand that they think differently. That they are not inferior. Also, they would be able to be accommodated without disruption to their day. Of course, they have a father who loves reading. I want my kids to enjoy reading. In a perfect world, my kids would be just able to be normal kids and given the chance to excel and succeed in whatever their talent is. I think that’s what most parents want as well.”

With increased early screening we could identify more children who struggle with dyslexia. Early screening could provide a pathway to learning with Text to Speech technology (TTS) and could even lead to a decrease in our total IEP costs. TTS in schools creates an excellent opportunity for a huge impact in schools with very limited budgets.

With regard to how we view reading and writing in education, Mr. Graham points out, “It’s a crossroads. [We should] say look, you can dictate it with speech to text or you can consume it by text to speech or the reading acceleration program.”

The point is the challenges caused by dyslexia in reading and writing can be alleviated. Cost savings for IEPs would be realized in both the short and long-term. Providing students access to TTS technology is the most efficient solution in solving reading challenges that dyslexic students face. In the long-run, districts will see improved comprehension and less frustrating outbursts from students. Very often we see a decrease in the need for assistance from teachers and better test scores often follow. All of these elements combined lead to a positive net impact on students, teachers and schools with limited budgets.

“In the Education delivery system, text to speech will level the hurdles of the printed word in any language, providing a level playing field for all students,” says Mr. Graham.

Despite being severely dyslexic, Mr. Graham went on to receive his Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics from Brandeis University. When he was diagnosed with dyslexia in the late 60’s, his road to achieving educational success was a long, winding path. With support from many educators along the way, he became passionate about providing access to various content for those who also suffer with dyslexia. Mr. Graham found Bookshare, an ebook library, and began listening to volumes of books converted from a written format to an audio format. This is a life changing experience for someone willing to learn, but who lacks the ability to just sit down and read. Enter the mobile age and the explosion of access to content for those with dyslexia, and we begin to see innovative solutions in solving learning disabilities.

Along with internet access and either a mobile device or tablet, any student with dyslexia can access TTS technology. TTS is not new, but it is dramatically improved over the years.

The increase in processing speed and decrease in costs over time, has allowed for dramatic improvements to TTS technology. Now with programs like Dragon Dictate or Google’s Dictation.io, students can speak into a microphone, or use a dictation feature to “write” papers or take tests.

The problem goes beyond just improving grades

Research by Jean Cheng Gorman, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist who studied youth suicides in 1998, found a staggering 50% of students who unfortunately end their lives have a learning disability, and 40% suffer from dyslexia. There is yet to be a research study showing TTS technology having a causal impact on decreasing suicide. However, helping alleviate barriers to knowledge, while decreasing frustration with learning, will have a positive impact on all student’s lives.

Beyond cost savings, the significance in learning to each student is tremendous. As a child, I personally was slow to read, but I don’t remember when I suddenly “learned” how to read. The act of reading is so automatic for most people, that it is hard for most people to imagine what it would be like to lack the ability to read. Providing solutions to these problems can help make some students feel empowered to learn again. TTS can change the lives of those students who need help with managing dyslexia.

 

Jabez LeBret is Chief of Schools at Sisu Academy, the first tuition-free private boarding high school in California. Cofounder of two companies he is also a regular Millennial Management speaker.

Jabez is embarking on a mission to change the lives of local high school students by opening the first tuition-free boarding high school with a self-funding model in Cal…

Source: Using Text To Speech Technology To Assist Dyslexic Students

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How Powerful Use of Technology Can Increase Student Engagement – Digital Promise

Rather than taking a traditional multiple choice test at the end of their unit on weather, sixth grade students at Gilbert Middle School in South Carolina created their own live weather reports—complete with green screens and fake snow. Down the hall, seventh graders used digital tools to design memes based on quotes from a novel in their English/language arts class……..

Source: How Powerful Use of Technology Can Increase Student Engagement – Digital Promise

The 50 Best Ways to Start Improving Education Immediately – Lee Watanabe-Crockett

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Consistently revising and improving education for everyone is a journey, not just a goal. With things as vital as great teaching and effective learning, teachers and students can benefit from a positive mindset of constant growth and development. According to Folwell Dunbar, the founder of Fire Up Learning, there’s a whole list of things we can start doing anytime to see immediate results in improving education.

In the Edutopia article 50 Little Things Teachers, Parents, and Others Can Do to Improve Education, Folwell lists 50 things we can practice to begin improving education right now. It’s the little things, he says, that make all the difference.

“While big, bold initiatives sound good, look pretty (cost a lot), and usually grab all the press, it’s the unheralded acts that, in the end, deliver results …”

It’s true; the little things make a big difference over time. The small steps we take today can have a huge impact tomorrow. Learn more about the small things (and some bigger things) Folwell suggests for improving education in his full article on Edutopia.

Which things from Folwell’s list are you using in your practices? Which ones would you like to try? What do you think might be missing from the list? Share it with us below.

50 Little Things for Improving Education

  1. Serve kids a good, healthy breakfast. 
  2. Find out what your kids like and incorporate them into your instruction.
  3. Allow kids to explore topics that really matter to them.
  4. Use big words and encourage kids to do the same.
  5. Ask questions that involve thoughtful answers.
  6. Give kids time to answer those hard questions.
  7. Discuss paintings, films, books, plays, etc.
  8. In your discussions, expect more than “It was awesome!” or “That sucked.”
  9. Model the use of proper English (or Spanish, German, Chinese, etc.).
  10. Adopt efficient routines and procedures.
  11. Remove erasers: time spent erasing is time lost exploring creative ideas.
  12. When watching television, turn on the closed captioning.
  13. Make TV interactive by discussing the shows you watch.
  14. Post the name of the book(s) you’re reading on the door to your classroom or at home. Enthusiasm is infectious.
  15. Post things that inspire and ignite the imagination.
  16. Celebrate learning frequently.
  17. Create quiet and comfortable learning sanctuaries in school and at home.
  18. Provide feedback that’s constructive and actionable.
  19. Assign homework that is meaningful and engaging.
  20. Encourage kids to keep journals they write in every day.
  21. Tell and listen to stories.
  22. Be consistent with rules. Children flourish when they know their boundaries.
  23. Listen to and discuss all kinds of music
  24. Display student work, along with the criteria used to evaluate it.
  25. Use mnemonic devices and other learning “tricks.”
  26. Read with your child for at least 15 minutes every night, if not longer.
  27. Discuss, question, and debate what you read.
  28. Read and write just for fun.
  29. Keep pets and plants at home and in the classroom.
  30. Eliminate unnecessary distractions during the school day.
  31. Constantly relate what is being taught to the real world.
  32. Listen to audio books whenever and wherever possible.
  33. Allow kids time to reflect on what they’ve learned.
  34. Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible.
  35. Call on students in an equitable manner (popsicle sticks, playing cards, etc.).
  36. Find, bookmark, and visit great educational websites.
  37. Explore interesting areas in your community.
  38. Play intellectually challenging games like Scrabble, chess, and Sudoku.
  39. Take an interest in what children are learning.
  40. Eat well-rounded, healthy snacks.
  41. Have real conversations while dining. (Foreign Language tables can be fun!)
  42. Don’t stress out.
  43. Exercise regularly, and make it fun.
  44. Play sports of every kind.
  45. Don’t complain – it rarely does any good.
  46. Set high standards for yourself and your kids, and expect success.
  47. Travel as much as possible.
  48. Make sure your kids (and you) get a good night’s sleep.
  49. Practice what you teach.
  50. Smile a lot!

The Best Tool to Use

There’s nothing like a terrific platform for improving education in practice, and that’s what Wabisabi is all about. We’ve built an app and accompanying resources designed to make any teacher and student fall in love with learning again and again.

Wabisabi’s prime features include real-time reporting against standards, media-rich learner portfolios, a vibrant collaborative experience, quality lesson plans from teachers all over the world, and much more. Get started with it below and see the possibilities for yourself.

 

 

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