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.

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.