Reading and writing are unnatural skills that demand the co-ordination of numerous parts of the brain. Without sufficient fluency, achieved through automization of some tasks, the purpose of the reading or writing task is unlikely to be fulfilled. This can result in a sense of frustration and failure. Assistive technology can offer the user support and a sense of independence while successfully reading or writing. Teachers need to be knowledgeable advisors and trainers in the use of assistive technology to help ensure learners experience success rather than failure.
- To clarify the rationale for employing assistive technology with those who struggle with literacy skills
- To introduce a variety of ways in which text-to-speech software can be employed to support dyslexic learners
- To demonstrate speech recognition software and provide detailed guidance on the provision of quality training for dyslexic users
- To consider the use of assistive technology as access arrangements in examinations
- To provide information about both free and commercial assistive software
Presented by Malcolm Litten
B.A. Hons, Dip. Ed., M.Phil
Malcolm Litten is an independent consultant who currently lectures and conducts seminars and workshops. He tutors and trains teachers at Bath Spa University, tutors individual pupils, and trains a variety of people to use speech recognition software. This has included working in Dubai, India, South Africa and Switzerland. He is a member of the British Dyslexia Association’s New Technologies Committee, engaged in providing up-to-date information, advice and evaluating new assistive software products.
Malcolm worked for over 40 years as an English teacher, half of that time at Mark College, a specialist school for dyslexic pupils established by Dr Steve Chinn. Early on in his time at Mark College, he realised the importance of features of computer technology, such as spell checkers and text-to-speech software, as a means of providing support for dyslexics in their reading and writing. This was explored in his thesis for his M. Phil. Later, he developed the use of speech recognition software with pupils, working with innovators of additional software to support dyslexic users.
He aims to spread good practice in the use of assistive technology much more widely because he believes it will make a significant difference to dyslexics’ experience of education and what they are able to achieve.
He has produced a book called ‘Writer’s Wordstore’ designed to help children develop their creative use of language by providing lists of appropriate vocabulary alongside photographic and poetic stimuli.