Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

Assistive technology for dyslexia and ADHD

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
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
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
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
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 ReaderPen
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. 

Download our RISE-AT Reference Guide to check all technologies provided by LDS 

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 

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Assistive Technology: Harkla

Assistive Technology: Harkla

What is Assistive Technology? 

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.

What does Harkla do?

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.”  

Harkla features:

  • Weighted Harkla products help students self-regulate emotions while in our AT Studio and Learning Centre. 
  • Products are thoughtfully designed for children and are easy to clean, odour and allergen-free, and durable. 

How can my child access Harkla? 

We offer Harkla as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leadingedge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

    —Rie 

    _________________ 

    Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

    Assistive Technology: MindMeister

    Assistive Technology: MindMeister

    What is Assistive Technology? 

    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.

    What does MindMeister do?

    MindMeister is a web-based platform that allows for mind mapping—a visual representation of thoughts and ideas. This software lets you make Mind Map bubbles containing text and images, arrange them, and connect them with lines, to help organize and capture ideas a student may have. Mind Maps can be used to organize thoughts, make To Do lists, brainstorm, schedule, and so much more. And because it is an online platform, Mind Maps can be used on any device and used collaboratively on projects.  

    MindMeister features:

    • Customizable bubbles with colour, images, videos, emojis, notes, links, and more to help you stay organized.  
    • A wide range of templates that help you get started with various topics like homework planning, brainstorming, and To Do lists. 
    • The Magic Wand button adds images, videos, or notes matching the content of your bubble.   
    • The History tool allows you to see all previous versions of your Mind Map and revert back to any of them.   
    • The Presentation button allows you to quickly and easily show off your creation, bubble by bubble. 

      How can my child access MindMeister?

      Our RISE Assistive Technology Studio is supported by our thoughtful and generous LDS technology sponsors, including MindMeister. Like all our assistive software tools, LDS offers MindMeister to our students and their families for use in lessons, in school, and at home. To claim your free copy of MindMeister, please email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca. You can also request an LDS assistive software virtual tour to get an in-depth introduction to our assistive software suite.  

      We also offer MindMeister in our East Vancouver AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

        —Rie 

        _________________ 

        Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

        Assistive Technology: Live It Earth

        Assistive Technology: Live It Earth

        What is Assistive Technology? 

        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.

        What does Live It Earth do?

        Live It Earth is a Canadian company, based in BC, that produces programs for home and school classrooms that inspire kids to care for the world around them and empower them to act. Live It incorporates Indigenous perspectives and a deep appreciation for the natural world into all their content.  

        Live It Earth features:

        Each month during the school year, Live It builds a lesson around a theme, like the Arctic, Caribou, or Forest Fires.
        Around this theme, they prepare: 

        • A 20-minute educational show. 
        • An informative slideshow. 
        • In-house experts to interact with users and answer questions via Twitter. 
        • Teacher resources to encourage participation. 
        • 4 weekly challenges designed to get students involved. These challenges include a science challenge, a reading challenge, a creative challenge, and a game. They are designed to get kids engaged with the world around them, away from a screen, and using whatever materials and tools they have around them. Live It Earth curates their questions and challenge submissions on Twitter through the hashtag #LiveItEarth, and often features user submissions in their programming. 

        How can my child access Live It Earth?

        Our RISE Assistive Technology Studio is supported by our thoughtful and generous LDS technology sponsors, including Live It Earth. Like all our assistive software tools, LDS offers Live It Earth to our students and their families for use in lessons, in school, and at home. To claim your free copy of Live It Earth, please email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca. You can also request an LDS assistive software virtual tour to get an in-depth introduction to our assistive software suite.  

        We also offer Live It Earth in our East Vancouver AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

          —Rie 

          _________________ 

          Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

          Assistive Technology: FocusCalm

          Assistive Technology: FocusCalm

          What is Assistive Technology? 

          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.

          What does FocusCalm do?

          Focus Calm is a wearable, brain-sensing headband and app that provide simple, scientifically developed exercises and games to train your brain to lower feelings of stress while staying alert and focused. FocusCalm monitors brain waves and other biological signals to determine levels of stress, focus, and calm. It offers simple games and guided mediation to expose the brain to various conditions and activities while striving for the FocusCalm state. LDS students benefit from FocusCalm as they practice gaining control over their mindset and improve their mental health. LDS students can download the FocusCalm app or visit our AT Studio to try it out for themselves.  

          FocusCalm features:

          • Focus Calm headband measures brain activity to provide immediate feedback in easy-to-understand numerical scores. Combined with the app, it scores mental activities from 0 (most active) to 100 (most calm) and the goal is to complete the activity while keeping the score as high as possible. 
          • FocusCalm is designed to track long-term progress to ensure users get the most out of their meditation practice. The FocusCalm app provides daily challenges, brain games, and guided meditation that improve the ability to regain focus and remain calm—especially important for students who may feel overstimulated or overwhelmed with learning materials.  
          • FocusCalm also offers a Tracker so the mental state can be monitored during any activity.

          How can my child access FocusCalm?

          We offer FocusCalm as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leadingedge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

            —Rie 

            _________________ 

            Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

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            Assistive Technology: Oculus Quest

            Assistive Technology: Oculus Quest

            What is Assistive Technology? 

            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.

            What does the Oculus Quest do?

            At LDS we are always looking for engaging ways to instruct our students, including the use of innovative technology. The newest addition to our AT studio, the Oculus Quest is a cutting-edge, allinone, virtual reality headset. LDS staff and instructors are developing ways to use virtual reality to help students visualize and learn about history, math, science, and culture in an unprecedented fashion. 

            Oculus Quest features:

            • Engaging gameplay
            • Learning through fun

            How can my child access Oculus Quest?

            We offer the Oculus Quest as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leadingedge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

              —Rie 

              _________________ 

              Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

              Assistive Technology: BeeLine Reader

              Assistive Technology: BeeLine Reader

              What is Assistive Technology? 

              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.

              What does the BeeLine Reader do?

              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’s also 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.  

              BeeLine Reader features:

              • Easy to use and download. 
              • Various colour options: bright, dark, grey, blue, off. 
              • Focus Mode dims headers, ads, and other on-screen distractions. 
              • Clean Mode opens the page’s main text on a new screen over a plain white background. 
              • Additional features include text size and appearance settings. 

              How can my child access BeeLine Reader?

              Our RISE Assistive Technology Studio is supported by our thoughtful and generous LDS technology sponsors, including BeeLine Reader. Like all our assistive software tools, LDS offers BeeLine Reader to our students and their families for use in lessons, in school, and at home. To claim your free copy of BeeLine Reader, please email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca. You can also request an LDS assistive software virtual tour to get an in-depth introduction to our assistive software suite.

              We offer the BeeLine Reader as part of our AT Studio, a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leadingedge AT to help our students with learning differences. To learn more about how your child can benefit, email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca.

                —Rie 

                _________________ 

                Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University with a Communications and Economics degree, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

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