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LDS is committed to providing exceptional learning support for our students with diagnosed or suspected learning differences, like dyslexia and ADHD. Whether that’s by providing accessible education through internal and external bursary funding or by investing in innovative tools for delivering instruction, we continually search for ways to engage students. In honour of dyslexia and ADHD awareness months (October), this post focuses on AT that may be most applicable for dyslexia and ADHD.
Assistive technology (AT) is any device, software, or equipment that is used to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability, including a learning difference. Technologies include hardware, or physical technologies that are kept on site at our AT Studio, and software, or technology available via a computer that can potentially be used from home. To learn more about why and how LDS uses AT, head to our AT webpage.
Our AT studio at LDS has a number of assistive technology tools that our students can benefit from, including the following that may be most helpful for learners with ADHD or dyslexia:
Lexilight is a reading-aid desk lamp that can significantly reduce symptoms of dyslexia when reading printed texts. Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects the brain’s ability to process language. Those affected have normal intelligence but have challenges identifying speech sounds and relating letters and words. Learn more in our blog post about LexiLight.
Speechify is text-to-speech software that provides a more fluid and human-sounding reader than other software. Text-to-speech software can be beneficial for anyone who has difficulty reading documents, emails, or webpages by reading the printed text aloud for them. Speechify will also guide you through the text by highlighting each word the reader speaks so that you can follow along. Speechify comes as both a browser extension and an app. Learn more by checking out our AT reference guide.
Harkla weighted blankets, weighted lap animals, and pressure vests provide calming sensory input to help create a perfect learning environment for LDS students. Harkla products can assist in calming and refocusing students who may struggle with sensory challenges such as ADHD. The use of weighted, calming products is supported by the science of Deep Pressure Therapy, which “helps to decrease nervous system activity” and “encourages a feeling of calm and relaxation.” Learn more in our blog post about Harkla.
BeeLine Reader is a software that colour adjusts on-screen text in a way that helps to guide your eyes through large blocks of text, making reading easier and faster while reducing screen fatigue. In the simplest terms, BeeLine applies a colour gradient to the text in your web browser so large blocks of text shift back and forth from shades of red to blue. This simple effect helps many readers maintain focus and read more effectively. It also allows you to change the size and appearance of the text on your screen, including applying the OpenDyslexic font to improve letter distinction. BeeLine is an easy-to-use software, requiring only a simple installation into your web browser and a login, then all long-form webpages, like Wikipedia, will be recoloured. earn more in our blog post about BeeLine Reader.
VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector
VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is a protector that uses colour-coded keys and bold, sharp contrast print to make the keys of the keyboard easier to recognize. The VerSkin protector aims to convert a standard keyboard into one that is more inclusive to those with vision impairments and those with learning differences like dyslexia. The VerSkin Inclusive Keyboard Protector is only currently available for the Microsoft Surface Laptop SE and Surface Laptop Go.
C-Pen’s ReaderPen allows students to scan printed text, bring it up on a computer screen, and hear it read out loud in English, French, or Spanish to help struggling readers. It’s perfect for learners who enjoy having audio and visual cues. The C-Pen also speaks in a human-like voice for students’ ease of understanding. It also defines challenging words and records voice cues. LDS students can ask their instructors to use the ReaderPen in their next in-person session! Learn more in our blog post about C-Pen ReaderPen.
How can my child access these technologies at LDS?
We offer these technologies as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences. All LDS students and families have access to this and may contact us to learn more, have a tour, or get software subscriptions for your home. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca
– Mike McKenzie-Gray, Assistive Technology Manager
LDS is a community of dedicated professionals that write collaboratively. We recognize the contribution of unnamed team members for their wisdom and input.