Tag Archives: Assistive technology

The exam countdown is on – Top tips to help your dyslexic students with their revision!

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This week on our blog – we invite guest blogger, David Imrie from Ashcraig School in Glasgow to share his top tips to help dyslexic students with revision!

With GCSEs starting in May, it’s important that dyslexic students are provided with support and assistance from teachers to help them achieve their best grades.

 

Early planning – The Exam Timetable

Revision timetable

Many students find exams and exam preparation difficult and stressful – a task that is even more taxing for dyslexic students.  It’s important for teachers to encourage students to plan and organise their revision time early to help relieve the pressure.

 

Creating and sticking to a revision timetable is always a useful coping strategy, allocating time for each exam topic and helping students to stay focussed.

 

Organise revision notes 

Teachers should also encourage their students to organise their revision materials.  One way to make them more manageable is to colour code any paper notes.

Coloured pens

I use the coloured highlighting feature in Read&Write Gold from Texthelp whic
h allows students to gather information using coloured highlighters, from multiple sources e.g. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. This text can then be collated into a single Microsoft Word revision document, with a bibliography automatically created.

 

Memorising revision notesMind Map

Many dyslexic students enjoy using mind-mapping tools when revising, to help with
remembering key words and ideas.  These tools are perfect when brainstorming and mapping out ideas for revision.  They allow students to build their own visual mind map, adding elements, sticky notes and imagery (which is great for visual learners).

 

Reduce the revision workload

Reading is a fundamental part of revision, but for dyslexic students revision requires a lot of reading and re-reading of text to decode it.  This increases the typical workload for a dyslexicBook pile student when preparing for their exams and can significantly increase their levels of stress.

 

Many dyslexic students are multi-sensory learners and benefit from listening to their revision notes rather than reading them.  Text-to-speech features in assistive software can be used to read any text aloud on a PC/Mac, for example, in MS Word, on the internet or in pdf documents and allows the student to listen to their revision notes rather than having to keep re-reading them.

 

Concentration and visual stress

If a student has trouble with reading, it may be because of visual discomfort and distortion of print on the page or screen.  A white page may glare, causing eye-strain or headaches; words may appear to move, to jumble or to blur.  All these things interfere with reading and affect attention and concentration.  Coloured overlays can be used with any hand-written revision notes and students can experiment to see which colour works best for them.

Screen Tint

The Screen masking feature in literacy support software allows the student to tint the entire screen on a PC/Mac. This reduces glare and visual discomfort and enables those with Irlen Syndrome, for example(a form of visual stress which leads to difficulties with fine vision tasks such as reading) to be able to concentrate on their revision notes for longer.

 

Exam Conditions/Readers

Many dyslexic students will be allowed a human reader in their exam to assist them.  However, recent changes to JCQ Exam Access Arrangements now allow for a computer reader to be used in place of a human reader, to read any text in the exam papers aloud.  This enables students to be independent and reduces their stress levels, as they no longer have to feel embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.

 

Encouragement and coping strategies

Encouragement and support from tutors, friends and family is invaluable, enabling students to blossom academically and to achieve their goals.  It’s also important for teachers to help dyslexic students recognise and build on their coping strategies in order for them to progress and do well in their exams and beyond.

 

David Imrie is biology teacher and SENCO at Ashcraig School in Glasgow and uses Read&Write Gold literacy support software to support his students with revision and in the exam room. David has been helping children with learning difficulties since 1996.

 

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Bumping into Bob Geldoff, spotting Michael Gove and visiting one of the 700 exhibition stands – just some of the highlights from a visit to the ExCel London, where this year’s BETT show celebrated its 30th anniversary.

By Jenny Laird @Texthelp

2014 marked my second visit to the  BETT show, the world’s leading event for learning technology.  To celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary, this year’s BETT was bigger than ever before with visitor footfall up by 6% on 2013, to a massive 46,508.

Having previously visited the show in 2012 at the London Olympia I was initially shocked by the sheer size of the show at the ExCel.  The exhibitor stands were huge, hi-tech, artistic structures each competing with the next for delegate’s attention.

BETT 2014 had over 700 exhibitors coming together to showcase their latest products and discuss key topics in the education technology sector.  Top of this year’s agenda was the impending computing curriculum.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove opened the show on Wednesday.  In his keynote speech he said the curriculum, which will be taught in UK primary schools from September this year, was built “from the bottom up” by academics because government departments would not be able to keep up with the rapid pace of technology.

The Texthelp exhibition stand was located in the Special Needs zone.  We received lots of attention because of our creative stand design, with some delegates even taking photos of the beautiful butterfly on our stand! BETT Stand

We met lots of visitors from Schools, Colleges and Universities but were surprised by the large increase in enquiries from International students and organisations.

Dominic Savage, Director General of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) mentioned that BETT’s growing international presence played an important part at this year’s show. “The show aims to be reflective of the global move of education technology.  Inviting the international companies along gives them and the UK-based firms a chance to talk all things industry.”

Google

On a trip around other exhibitors’ stands at lunch time we noticed the exhibition stands of some big players in the technology market, including Google, who had a fabulous stand with lots of visitors chatting and checking out their wares.

We also bumped into Sir Bob Geldoff who was taking great interest in the tour he was being given around the many exhibitors stands at the show; and Laura and I made friends with some cuddly mascots.

Jen & Laura

The BETT Awards

Entries to this year’s BETT Awards were up by a quarter on last year.  Texthelp’s Angeline Kelly, Caroline Cuddy and CEO Mark McCusker attended on behalf of Texthelp as we were shortlisted as as a finalist in the Exporter of the Year category. Although we didn’t go on to win the award, a great night was had by all.

Bett 2014 Finalist logo

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Back to School!

back-to-school1

It’s September again – that means back to school in the UK for teachers and students alike. The first day back can be just as daunting and exciting for teachers as it is for the pupils!

Watch this short video to find out how one local teacher, John Emerson from Clounagh Junior High School, feels about the new term and how he plans to integrate Read&Write Gold with his lessons.

Many thanks to John and Clounagh Junior High School for taking part in this video.

Get started with Read&Write Gold!

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Get Started with Read&Write Gold!

We know it can be difficult getting to grips with something new! That’s why we’ve created this great new video to help get started with the latest version of Read&Write Gold.

Whether you’re using it for study, work or just in everyday life, we’re sure there are some handy hints and tips in the video that can help you!

Just in case you’re not too familiar with Read&Write Gold, here’s some background. Our award-winning Read&Write Gold software is used around the globe to help struggling readers, those with literacy difficulties, such as dyslexia and English Language Learners. Our clever toolbar hosts an array of powerful reading, writing and study support tools and discreetly integrates will all major applications. With these tools you can be sure that you never make another mistake in your assignments, emails and even Social Media status updates.

Now that you know what it is, click here to see Read&Write Gold in action!

Read&Write 11 is here!

We are very pleased to announce that the latest version of our award-winning software, Read&Write Gold is now available!

The latest release sees Read&Write Gold take on a whole new look and feel as well as including some exciting new features and enhancements.

Watch this short interview with Martin (our Chief Technical Officer) discussing what’s new in Read&Write Gold.

Let us know what you think of Read&Write Gold’s new look!

To try Read&Write Gold for yourself you can download a 30 day free trial here.

iReadWrite for your iPad

ipad

iReadWriteLogo

March was a very busy month for all of us at Texthelp – mainly due to the exciting release of our brand new iPad app, iReadWrite. The App is suitable for all ages and makes working on the iPad more accessible for those with low literacy and learning difficulties such as dyslexia. It’s the first time we’ve developed a stand-alone product for the iPad, so we’re all very keen to find out what people think of it! Since it’s launch in early March, we’ve developed Australian and South African versions, available to purchase in the respective App stores.

This great video shows you how all the features of iReadWrite work.

To find out more about the app, visit the App store today!

One of our first iReadWrite customers has sent us a review of the product. Find out what he thinks of it below:

“A decent first foray into the iPad app marketplace from long standing assistive software suppliers Texthelp. The new iReadWrite iOS app tries to replicate many of the most useful features of its established big brother, Read&Write, available on both Windows and Mac platforms, and for the most part achieves that.

“iReadWrite’s primary functions are to read text back to you, using one of two available high quality voices, and check your spelling and grammar. Features I particularly liked are the fact the app does not need a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to work, the intuitive interface, the facility to listen as you type (this makes it really easy to hear your mistakes), the powerful word prediction feature, an excellent dictionary, and a reasonable choice of fonts, including Open Dyslexic.

“Once you have typed up some text, there are some decent export features, to email, Messenger, Facebook and Twitter – one feature I would love to see in an update, is export to Audio, which could then sync with iTunes, this is one of the most popular features of Read&Write, especially amongst students, and it would be a perfect fit for the iOS platform. Another omission I would like to see in an update, is Cloud save integration, to the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive.

“The two supplied voices are excellent, and whilst I know that these high quality voices are not cheap to produce and include with software, it would be nice to have more choice – again, the choice to purchase additional voices from an “in-app purchase” in a future update, would be a nice addition.

“The price point for an app is a tricky area. Users are used to paying anything from 69p to £4.99 for most apps these days. This is a high end app which will increase many users productivity, and compared to the price of Read & Write for Windows and Mac, it’s a steal at the current £19.99 price point. As it stands, iReadWrite is a very good app, however there is room for improvement, and its early days – I will be watching with interest for future updates and how this app is received in the community.”

Andy Lees, DSA Assessor, Herriot Watt University

If you have purchased iReadWrite, we’d love to hear what you think of it! Simply email us your comments and suggestions to r.houston@texthelp.com!

Welcome to our Blog!

Welcome

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Welcome to our blog – Texthelp Talks Back!

We are a group of people who are striving to produce excellent software to help our users improve their reading and writing skills as well as supporting English language learning. This is the place where we’ll try and give you an insight as to what goes on inside our company!

We want to share with you our exciting news and developments, get your input and opinions and let you in on some insider knowledge from an assistive technology company. So, what does Texthelp do? We are a company who develops literacy support software. “Literacy support software? What’s that?” I hear you ask. I too wondered this about five months ago, before I started working at Texthelp. Essentially, we develop software to help individuals who struggle with reading and/or need some writing support to become confident and independent learners. However, since joining Texthelp five months ago, I now realise we do so much more! We also produce some great English language learning software, we offer support on iPad, iPhone and mobile devices and we have software to develop oral reading fluency.

But that’s enough about what we do for now! More importantly, who are we? We are a highly skilled team from far and wide, based in a little town in Northern Ireland called Antrim, who you will get to know over the course of this blog. We have a lot of fun on a day-to-day basis coming up with new wacky marketing ideas as well as new concepts and branding for our products. We are looking forward to bringing you more exciting news from HQ very soon and hearing your views.

For more information and news directly from us, you can visit our website!

See you soon,

Ruth
PS. One of the features of our Read&Write GOLD software is a Speech Maker function. By using this we can produce an MP3 version of each of our blog entries for you to listen to. You can find it at the top of each of our posts!