How Tech Can Help Students With Dyslexia


Dyslexia is a very misunderstood learning disability, many people think that dyslexia solely affects people’s ability to read and write. And that is true to a point but in many ways, it is an over-simplification. Dyslexia also effects phonological awareness, verbal memory, and a person’s verbal processing speed.

It’s a complicated learning disability that is often over-simplified and misunderstood which can make it very difficult for people to get the support and guidance they need. While many businesses may have things in place to help support dyslexic employees many are letting the new and improved technology that could help go by the wayside.

This is a real shame but one particular area that is struggling is schools, colleges, and universities these three establishments support a wide range of students and many of them will suffer from dyslexia and are seeking further help through a number of means, including dyslexia courses. It’s important that students of any age (but especially those that are younger) get the help and support they need to ensure they get a high-standard of learning despite the challenges dyslexia brings.

Technology can help you achieve this in many ways and there is a great array of resources that schools can use. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how you can help students with dyslexia in more detail using the great technological resources available.

Text To Speech Tools 

Have you ever watched a science-fiction movie or TV series and noticed how many of the characters just talk to the computer to get things done? Thanks to recent advancements like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana the future seems a lot closer now, doesn’t it?

While these are virtual assistants and not text to speech tools in the traditional sense they do show the versatility and flexibility of text to speech. Text to speech programs might not be the most prevalent software programs but they are seeing an increase in popularity.

You’ll find many free text to speech programs online and plenty of smartphone and tablet apps, but the free price does come with a few issues. While they definitely range in quality some are probably not going to be all that helpful, however, there is some professional text to speech programs available.

Dragon speech recognition from Nuance is one of the leading names in text to speech software and will be a big help to any dyslexic individuals. With text to speech programs reading and writing is going to be a lot easier for people who suffer from dyslexia and they can ensure much more accuracy.

With text to speech programs dyslexic individuals will be hearing information instead of reading it, this will make it much easier for them. They can also use text to speech software in a wide variety of different tasks which will make studying much easier as well.

Built-In Accessibility

Computers today and indeed even in older models have a wide range of built-in accessibility options that will make a big difference for people who suffer from dyslexia. Many people don’t realise that these accessibility options even exist which is a shame because with just a few clicks of your mouse you can much using a computer much simpler and easier from someone who suffers from dyslexia.

There are a lot of different ways you can use these built-in accessibility options to help make using a computer easier for dyslexic people and it will differ from person to person, so before you do anything make sure ask the student if it helps or not. But some common accessibility tips are laid out below.

    Tinting the screen.

    Making text bigger.

    Changing the text style or colour.

    Increasing visual aids and much more.

A lot of research suggests that dyslexic people are sensitive to the glare of a white or block coloured screen, which is why many of these tips involve adding more colour and reducing screen glare. It might seem strange that a simple thing like changing the screen or text colour can have such a big impact but when it comes to dyslexia even small things can make a big difference.

One tip to ask dyslexic students is whether the screen looks like its flickering or if the text looks like it’s moving slightly. If they say yes, then changing the text style and adding a splash of soft colour can make a big difference.

Digital Textbooks

One easy thing any school, college or university can do to help their dyslexic students is to provide digital textbooks. With a digital textbook, students can change the text size, font and in some cases even the colour. This can be a huge help to dyslexic students because many of them will find reading a traditional textbook difficult.

If you can also make these materials available to students on a virtual learning platform it will also give students more customisation options. With a digital textbook you can do things that would be impossible on a traditional paper alternative, so try to get your students access to digital alternatives whenever possible.

Use Built-In Templates

Not all the ways you can help dyslexic students require you to buy new software or to be blunt mean extra expense, there are many tools available on a number of standard software programs. Take Microsoft Word, for example, there are dozens of built-in templates dyslexic students can use which will make it easier for them to carry out their work.

Microsoft Office programs in particular offer a great variety of templates that are perfect for dyslexic students, but whatever software program you use you’ll often find templates available.

These will provide a great shortcut for dyslexic students and make carrying out work a lot easier for them. Even simple touches like setting up a bigger font size by default can make work easier for dyslexic students.

Dyslexic students face a lot of challenges at all levels of their education, but you can do a lot to help them along the way. Technology has had a huge effect on the way students can learn and study and it has made it much easier for dyslexic students.

7 Reasons why you should Always Hire a Professional Website Designer Right from the Start

To have a website for your business is a necessity in today’s technological day and age.  There are many different reasons why you might need a website, but if it is to create an online presence for your business, this website will be the online face of your business.  You will want to make it as appealing and professional as possible to obtain the maximum views and visits to your website.

While getting the website up by yourself might be cost-effective, it might not be the best way to represent your business

7 Reasons to hire a Professional Website Designer that will be saving you costs in the long run:

  1. It will save you time: A professional web designer knows all the things you still have to learn about web design.  While you are concentrating on the content of the website, the designer can manage all the things they know, like web hosting, domain name, layouts, coding and much more.  They have the knowledge to create your website efficiently, customizing beyond just templates, and, be quick about it.
  2. Keeping your website unique: On the Internet, there already are millions of websites.  In order to catch the eye, you will need a website that will stand out and show your business in a unique way to make it preferable to others.  It should be easy to navigate, load efficiently, work properly and please the eye.  A professional designer will know exactly what to do to give your website that extra visual attraction.
  3. User-Friendly: A professional can make the navigation of your website easy for visitors.  They will have your visitors travelling around the site without them getting confused.  A professional designer can build your site that it can also be accessed on mobile devices, for instance, on a Smartphone, and tablets.
  4. First Impressions Count: A professionally designed website will make you outshine your competitors.  It will give confidence in your products or services.  Good First Impressions will also always guide visitors back to your site.
  5. Keeping ahead with New Technology: Technology changes continuously.  Together with technology changes come Internet changes.  A professional will be able to teach you how to these constant changes to keep your website up to date.  They will also be able to implement new fresh ways to bring more traffic to your website and keeping you that step ahead of everyone else.
  6. Being Search Engine Friendly: This is a very important factor.  Your website should be available through many search engines.  A professional web designer knows how to best accomplish this.
  7. Keeping your Website Safe: A professional web designer built your whole site from scratch, which includes all codes they use.  No one else has these codes which makes them difficult to hack.  Viruses and adware or other harmful programs can be placed on your website if it is not protected properly.  A secure, safely guarded website will ensure that it runs smoothly and that your clients can browse without any issues.

Hiring a professional web designer to create your website is very beneficial.  It means that you will get it right, right from the start.

Top Tips On How To Clean Your PC

While it might not look like it is harbouring serious volumes of dust, dirt and debris; if you do not keep on have computer cleaning regularly scheduled, a whole lot of disgusting and gross stuff can build up.  Not only is this unappealing to look at, it is also damaging and could even completely destroy parts of your computer. 

Where do you begin and what do you actually do when computer cleaning?  If you are unsure, don’t worry as we have a list of top tips for cleaning everything, including the mouse and monitor.

Keyboard Cleaning Tips

All manner of liquid, food and dust can get lodged underneath and in-between the keys on the keyboard, which can stop it functioning properly.  The following cleaning tips will help keep your keyboard clean and in good working order.

  • Unplug your keyboard from either the PS/2 or USB port.  You will need to completely shut down your PC, if the keyboard is connected to the PS/2 port, before unplugging it.
  • Flip the keyboard upside down and give it a good but gentle shake to loosen and remove any dust and dirt.
  • Use compressed air to clean between and underneath the keys and remove other trapped debris
  • take a paper towel or cotton cloth and moisten it with rubbing alcohol.  Use this to clean the key tops.  Never pour alcohol or other cleaning solutions directly onto the keyboard.
  • Plug the keyboard back in once it is completely dry.  If you are plugging it into the PS/2, you will need to connect it first, then turn on the computer.

Handling Spillages

When a liquid has been spilled onto your keyboard, shut the computer down immediately and unplug the keyboard.  Flip the keyboard upside down and let the liquid drain away.

For sticky liquid spillages, you need to hold your keyboard on the side under a running tap to rinse away the liquid.  Then flip it upside down and leave it to drain somewhere safe for two days to ensure it is properly dry before reconnecting it to your computer.  Although this is the best solution, it could be that the keyboard is unfixable.

As a preventative measure in future, it is advised that you keep all drinks away from your computer.

Mouse Cleaning

There are two basic types of mouse: mechanical and optical. 
While each can be cleaned in essentially the same way, a mechanical mouse is a lot more fiddly.

Mechanical mice are particularly bad for harbouring accumulated dust and other particles and these can get caught in the inner parts and affect how well they work.  If you find that your mouse pointer is not moving as smoothly as it usually does, this could be a sign that it needs to be cleaned.

Optical mice on the other hand, do not need any internal cleaning as they have no moving parts.  They can however, get very sticky and yucky as dust builds up around the light emitter.  This can stop the cursor from moving smoothly or the mouse from working correctly altogether.

Below are some great tips for cleaning your mouse quickly and effectively.

  • Start by unplugging your mouse, from either the PS/2 or USB port.  Remember, if you have it connected to the PS/2 port you will have to switch off your computer first, then remove it.
  • Take a cotton cloth and moisten it with alcohol.  Use this to clean the bottom and top of the mouse. 
  • If you own a mechanical mouse, flip the mouse upside down and turn the ball cover anti-clockwise to remove the tracking ball.  Use the cotton cloth to clean the inside of the mouse and the tracking ball.
  • Allow all individual parts to dry completely before you reassemble your mouse and reconnect it to your PC.

If you are only looking to give your mouse a quick clean-up, take a clean piece of paper and run the mouse backwards and forwards over it.  This should dislodge and remove some of the dust and other debris onto the sheet of paper.

Monitor Cleaning

Dust, fingerprints and dust can all make their way onto the computer screen and make it difficult to read and enjoy the experience of using your computer.  However, it is very easy to clean your monitor screen. 

While there are some monitor-cleaning kits available out there, if you use the wrong one for your particular type of monitor, it could damage it.  The safest way to clean your monitor is using a soft cloth and some water.  Or a solution made of equal parts water and white vinegar.

Important note:  Never use glass cleaner to clean your monitor.  As many monitor screens have a special anti-glare coating, this can be damaged and peel away if you use glass cleaner.

  • Start by switching your computer off and unplug the monitor. 
  • Use a soft clean cloth moistened with either water or a solution of water and white vinegar, wiping in a circular motion to avoid streaks. 
  • Be careful not to spray or apply liquids directly to the screen as these can leak into it and damage its internal components.

Tips For Cleaning Other Computer Surfaces

You should also regularly clean your computer casing as well as the back and sides of your monitor to prevent dirt and dust building up.  Below are some great tips to do this.

  • Dust is one of the biggest problems.  When cleaning the computer casing, use an anti-static cloth and avoid using strong solvents or furniture cleaners.
  • Use compressed air to blow away any debris and dust trapped in the air intake vents.
  • When cleaning computer surfaces – the milder solution, the better.  Ammonia diluted with water, or a glass cleaner that is mostly made up of water and ammonia is acceptable.    
  • Clean the monitor casing and housing with a safe cleaning solution by spraying it onto an anti-static cloth or paper towel and wiping it down from top to bottom.

Keep Your Computer Cool

Prevent airflow around your computer becoming restricted.  As computers generate a considerable amount of heat, the casing includes fans that prevent it from overheating.  Therefore, avoid stacking items such as books, papers and anything else around your computer that could block the fans and vents.

If your computer desk has an enclosed section for the computer casing, consider placing this in a position that means it is not against the back of the desk.  If it has a door, consider leaving this open or removing it to allow for better airflow.

15 simple conversion rate optimisation hacks

What would you say to an increase of a few percent on your current site conversion rates?

Given that conversion rates generally equal money in your pocket (or at least a very big pat on the back from a client) – the answer is likely to be ‘yes please!’

Upping conversion rates is usually one of those ‘easier said than done’ exercises – but it doesn’t have to be.

We recently has a chance to sit down with the team at Think Zap who are one of Scotland’s leading web design companies and they have shared 15 reasonably simple site hacks that that’ll see you conversion rates heading sky high – and importantly, we’ll look at why they work.

Home page video

Having a video on your homepage appeals to our lazy brains. Give your customers the information they need in video format and save them hitting back at the prospect of having to trawl your site for the info they need.

Industry average rates suggest a homepage video will boost your conversions between 75-100%

Guest checkouts

You can expect an increase in ecommerce conversions to the tune of around 50% if you let your visitors check out as guests. The reason is simple – fewer barriers the conversion for your customer – and we all know, fewer barriers, increased results.

Reduce form fields

What do you really need from your customer when they’re completing a form? Ask yourself that question then strip it back to the bare bones. If you’re starting with 10-12 fields and can manage to reduce that down to either 4-5, you can expect to see around 140% more conversions…

Use high-quality images

How does a 62% increase in conversions sound? That’s what you can expect if you go from a lacklustre shot or stock image – to a high quality professional image on your homepage. People have got a nose for stock images – so use something that’s original and you’ll have them converting in increasing numbers.

Video testimonials

How can you be certain that any testimonial you read on a page is legitimate? Well, you can’t – but you stand a better chance of working out if what you’re seeing is genuine if it appears in video format.

Customers love video testimonials – they’re hard to fake and tick the same psychological boxes as a friend recommending a product. Some industries see conversion increases of 150%+ when they put video testimonials on their pages…

Add PayPal

Want to make spending money with you easy? Adding a PayPal button will see order increases somewhere in the tune of 35% – and it’s all about convenience. Most of your traffic is now likely to be coming from mobile – and while we love mobile browsers, inputting card details can be a pain.

Reduce those awkward form completions by offering payment with PayPal – and in just a couple of clicks, the customer’s money will be on its way to you.

Add a promo code on your homepage

A promo code is almost guaranteed to draw customers deeper into your site, searching for something that will mean they can redeem the code and save some money. Expect an increase of 6-8% in onsite sales if you offer an appealing code.

Make sure you’re mobile friendly

It’s nearly 2018 – if you’ve not optimised for mobile now you’re really missing a trick. Depending on your industry studies show you can expect an increase in conversions anywhere between 100% and 700% if you’re driving mobile traffic at your site but aren’t catering for smaller layouts and mobile browsers.

Add a contact number

Adding a contact phone number to your site is as much a psychological move as it is a customer service boost. Having a number on your site puts customer confidence through the roof – and when customer confidence is high, customers spend money.

A phone number makes you site look like the front of a real company – meaning support is immediately at hand if there are any issues that your customer needs resolving.

Are you a robot?

Complex captcha is a massive turn off for customers. The occasional ‘tick box’ isn’t too bad – but if you’ve had to identify how many of the squares have street signs/cars/shop fronts in them – you’ll know how tempting that back button looks.

Don’t take the risk that you’ll put your customers off, ditch the captcha and see conversions increase by 3-5%

Share share share

You might think that social share options on product pages will have people circulating your stuff around the globe – but in reality, it doesn’t quite work like that. In fact, removing social share buttons from your pages actually puts conversions up by 12% – owing mostly to the fact that you keep your customer’s eyes on the prize… tunnel vision all the way to the check out…

Live chat

Adding live chat to your page is useful in a couple of ways. It offers the same psychological confidence boost that having a phone number gives – and it also offers your customers a chance to pose a question that they’d otherwise go elsewhere with.

The psychological boost and the second chance to win your customer over will add an increase of anywhere between 20-200% in terms of conversions – depending on how you handle the live chat interactions.

Simple and clutter free

When it comes to landing pages – less is definitely more. A/B testing between image heavy, long landers vs. short and concise pages carrying the same information shows a big preference for the latter – increasing conversions by over 150%.

Follow the logo conventions

People are used to seeing your logo top left – and occasionally top centre. Start getting quirky and your site loses the familiar feel that inspires confidence in your audience. Tick all the ‘conventions’ boxes and you can expect an increase in conversions of around 70%

Speed is everything

So, we’ll finish off with a word of warning – rather than a solid figure.

All this work you’ve put in to maximise your chances of converting your traffic is worth next to nothing if your page doesn’t load in a reasonable time. And by reasonable – we actually mean lightning fast!

Make people wait for more than 3 seconds and you can kiss goodbye to around 20% of the traffic that was heading in your direction. Wait any longer and you’ll start to lose the majority of your traffic. Focus on page load speed to make sure as many people get through the door as possible…

Advice on How to Market your Small Online Business Successfully in 2017

Most businesses, even very small businesses, have a website of some kind.  In our modern age, it is unthinkable that you should run a business without using the advantages that modern technologies provide in 2017.

But, having the website is not nearly enough; you need to know how to successfully use and implement online, marketing strategies to your advantage.

5 Tips to Advice you on Improving your Website’s Exposure, Visibility and how to Generate more Traffic Online to Increase Sales

1. Create a Market Strategy that is Customer Focused: Do research on what your clients want and need.  Listen to what your clients say.  You can use online platforms, social media platforms, apps, etc. to start an online conversation with visitors to your website.  Using the information you gained through these conversations can be used to formulate your customer-focused strategy.

2. Further your Client Optimization through Sending out Online Surveys: Online surveys are used to measure the effectiveness of your products and services.  Surveys do not require direct interaction with your client but will give fast and efficient information.  Information that can be used to better understand your market, your product or service and the clients you serve.

3. Use Different Marketing Strategies: Your customers, clients, are not all the same.  You should not rely on the one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.  Your clients will differ in age, preferences, hobbies, gender and also spending habits.  You need to come up with different forms of advertising in order to attract the attention of different audiences.

4. Keep your Website Updated: Your website is acting as free advertising for your product or services.  This is your businesses’ window to the world.  Make sure that it looks the best it can be.  It should be easy to operate, have great content, be focused and without writing errors.  Your website should broadcast your message in a professional, compelling way to attract visitors and make them clients.

5. Be Social: Build a visible, interacting, profile for your business on social media platforms.  This is a marvellous way to keep in contact with your customers and visitors, socially.  Ensure that they remember you by giving gentle reminders of your business and what it offers them.  Create interesting content and offer discounts and special offers on occasion.  Keep in contact by sending SMS’s and e-mails.  Ask clients to sign up for these.  Do not bombard them.

There are many more ways that you can employ to attract more traffic and possible customers to your Online Business.  Remember to never try to force a client’s purchase.  Rather give gentle nudges and constant, without being overbearing, little reminders that your product or service is a must have or a definitely needed item.

The Many Positive Effects that Technology Left on Our Lives in 2017

Technology can cause both positive and negative feelings and effects on people’s lives and on society.  Focusing on the positive you will find that technology is a very important factor in the growth of humankind in every way possible.  From the very start, technology made life easier for people.  It can also open lots of doors to many opportunities that looked unlikely to be achievable before.

Ways Technology Changed Life for the Better:

Changes in Communication:  Keeping in touch with family and friends can be child’s play in this modern era.  Before the wire telephone, the only way to keep in touch was either visiting or sending a letter, which might take up to three months to be delivered.  With the press of a few buttons, you can speak to anybody, anywhere at any time of the day.

Changes in Business, Trade, and Industry:  Doing business has become so much faster, even when the seller and buyer sit on opposite ends of the world, and their transactions are finalised, electronically, within moments.  More products and services are available to clients.  Calculations are much more accurate today than before and this minimizes the possibility of errors.

Changes in Education:  Technology changed the outlook of education in lots of ways.  Where books will always take an important place in education, almost all educational and learning resources can also be found online.  Studies found that students that have access to technology did better at school.  Research for projects and other studies is also easy to access.

Changes in Medicine:  The skills and dedication of medical professionals, paired with the newest, latest technology can only mean better to the very best in treatment.  Advanced research and modern technology also make it a lot easier to diagnose and treat illnesses.  Even illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Changes in Family Ways:  Technology brings families closer even when they live far apart.  Technology can never take the place of real kisses and hugs, but it can enable loved ones to see each other and speak to each other, even when they live on different continents.  Family can stay connected, give support and share love even when separated by thousands of miles.

Only a few of the positive effects technology have on our lives.  I am sure there are much more when you think about it.

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5 Tips on Starting your Dream Business Online

To start your own business is a dream for many people.  It is a way to take control, to start making extra money.  You are thinking about starting small, choosing the hours and time you put in, picking the projects you think will suit you.

But, as with most things, most people also have one or two things holding them back.  Things they think might make their dream impossible.  And, many times one of these things is the way you think about business, the ‘why’ you want to do it, where you want to go with it, and what the priorities for doing it all may be.

It always helps if there is someone that can put your ducks in a row and show them where the pool is.  Someone that will be able to help you make the right decisions at the right times for the right reasons.

5 Tips to Jump Start your Online Business Dream:

Starting your Online business can be overwhelming at first.  You should start by deciding what your business is going to be through testing the waters, doing research on how your service or product will be greeted by possible customers.

  1. Choose your Business; whether it is a product or service orientated business such as Vectorcloud who are based in Edinburgh , decide on what you want to do. Then, do research about your specific business or product’s environment.  Understand your market.  Learning what type of clients will favour your products can teach you a lot about how and when to advertise.
  2. Start Building your Website; if you need your website to be a picture of professionalism, to be catching the eye and receive the maximum visits, it might be better to hire a web designer and web developer. They will know how to set up your website.
  3. Do Marketing; there are many ways to accomplish this. Add your businesses’ URL to all your online information.  Add the URL to your e-mails.  Give out business cards, make comments on social media and create accounts for your business through creating social media accounts for it.
  4. Implement a Service for Receiving and Sending Money; this is crucial for receiving payments for your products or services, as well as, for making payments and transferring money internationally. You need to see the exchange rate immediately, to be able to know the exact amounts of money you are dealing with.
  5. Diversify; once your first money is starting to come in, start thinking about how you can expand your product range or service delivery. Do not rely on only one source of income for long periods.  Diversification can be critical for you to survive in the long run.

You can turn your dream of an Online business into a reality through implementing these 5 tips and by keeping the right mindset.  Do not look for excuses to not do something, look for ways to curb those excuses and become Online Business Owner.