Being able to read is a gift that opens us up to new worlds, new thoughts, new adventures.
I take for granted on a day-to-day basis that reading comes so naturally. In fact, I love it. For as long as I can remember, I have sought time to delve deep into a novel and escape for a few hours. The outside word slips away and I lose track of time and of my surroundings.
But for those who struggle with reading, for various reasons, it can be a chore. Instead of a sweet escape or a gateway to learning new things; feelings of frustration, anxiety, embarrassment and discouragement arise instead.
There are some tools and tricks that can assist learners who find themselves struggling with Dyslexia or other Global Learning Disabilities. Things we may have seen our own teachers doing. Dragging a ruler underneath the words as you read to help with tracking. Making the "b" and "d" symbols with your fingers to remind you of which side the "bump" of the letter goes on. There are even (coloured) tinted reading glasses to help with eye strain and focus.
With technological advances and with more and more classrooms using "Smart Boards" with digital print instead of handwriting (can you believe that there are no longer chalk boards in classrooms?? I am getting old...) we need to start thinking about how we can help children and teens with reading difficulties. Take advantage of what technology can bring to the table.
This article describes how using a different font would allow individuals with Dyslexia to better distinguish between the letters that are similarly shaped. A Dutch designer, Christian Boer, developed the font Dyslexie to make reading easier for for people like himself who struggle with Dyslexia.
Notice how the "b" is slender at the top of the bubble and the "d" is slender at the bottom? This simple design change could make a huge difference. The greatest distinction however, is the use of the capital style "Q" in a lower case font. This fact will make it more difficult for the font to become mainstream in the schools because the focus on grammar and capitalization is stressed. But if this little change holds the power to alleviates some of the frustrations that more and more children are experiencing than isn't making that accommodation worth it?
A company called Bee Line Reader has also taken innovation to the next level in attempting to make reading easier and more pleasant for those with difficulties. They have taken the principal that the brain registers colours more quickly and fluently than text and used that to develop a reading system that causes less strain on the brain and on the eyes.
Reading is especially difficult when it is bunched together in formed paragraphs. Reading isolated words takes less focus. So with Bee Line Reader, the colouring of the words change as you read through the paragraphs.
You are able to convert text on any website, on eReaders and convert pdf files to make anything you read on-screen colour enhanced.
Here is a picture of their business card. (It has been in my wallet for awhile so please forgive the marks on the card!)
I personally found myself "speed reading". They could be on to something!
For more information take a look here.
We. as educators, need to take a look at these forward thinking tools and customize to each of our learners. What works for one person may not work for the next but one simple change can also make a world of difference!
Hope and happiness,
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