Learning disabilities can make life as a University student very difficult. Students with reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, may struggle and fall behind in their classes. Fortunately, technology provides helpful tools like apps and browser extensions for easier learning. Yet, a good deal of software options cost money to use. Here are a few options that are free to use in some form with no limitations.
If reading websites is challenging for you, Google Chrome has useful extensions to assist with comprehension. These can help your research experience and editing anything written online much easier.
Read and Write is an extension that is great for those who need to listen to words instead of just reading them. If you are on a non-PDF webpage, you can click on the extension and it will provide you with a strip of options. In the free version. You only have the option to play, pause, stop, and translate what you are reading.
Dyslens is an extension for Chrome that gives you various options to help you read better online. They designed it for people with dyslexia and ADHD/ADD. When you click on the extension, it gives you four options that can help you read any screen. The text settings change the font so it becomes easier to see and read on the screen. Text to speech is an option but it only works immediately after you highlight, with no option to pause. An overlaying tint is an option you can use to combat dyslexia, and you can use this on any webpage. The last option is a line focus. It works like the overlay tint, but it focuses on the sentence that you need to read.
Editing tools can assist you in editing your writing for school or personal creative projects. Depending on what you are writing. You will need to look over what the software picks up to make sure that it still sounds correct. All three have a free version, but it only covers the basics. The paid versions cover a lot more. ProWritingAid and Grammarly work with Microsoft Word and can also be used with Google Chrome.
ProWritingAid is one of the three great tools to help you become a better writer. The tool scans your writing and shows you areas to improve, like using repetitive words or weak ones. Grammarly is like ProWritingAid, but it focuses the most on using grammar. Hemmingway Editor is a website. You can copy and paste your writing onto the page. It will highlight anything that needs fixing. Using all three can help with editing. You might notice missed things in your writing.
Audible is not a free app, but it is very useful for those who have reading comprehension issues. If you have the app, you can get a credit for an audiobook each month and some titles are free to access. It’s beneficial to read both the physical book and e-book at the same time.
Librivox is another free phone app where you can access audiobooks in the public domain. There are a few titles you need to pay for, but if you need to read a book for class or research, this is the right app for you.
There are also a few applications you can use in Brightspace. Under Disability and Wellbeing, there is an option for Assistive Technology Toolbox. There are a lot of options, but these are very useful for dyslexia and reading disorders.
Orbit Note is a very useful website. The text-to-speech extensions cannot read PDFs, but this site will convert PDFs into a format that is compatible with the software. Although not all PDFs (such as a scanned book) can be converted, the software is compatible with any PDF that has convertible text.
Otter.ai Is a dictation of AI software, which allows you to dictate what you want to write. It is useful for those who have trouble writing what they want to say because of dyslexia.
However, you might need to edit it a lot more, since writing and dictating can come out differently from what you wanted to write.
There are alternative programs out there for Microsoft Office, the Apple App Store, Adobe, and other kinds of software. Technology today is a lot more accommodating than it was about twenty years ago. The software listed here only scratch the surface of applications that can help those with disabilities become more confident, allowing them to enjoy reading and writing.
Written by Nika Corney.