Assistive technology specialist Texthelp urges dyslexics to seek anytime anywhere software in ‘the cloud’
Published by Livewire for Livewire Public Relations in Education
A recent report from the Department for Education (DfE) shows that numbers of schoolchildren being diagnosed with Special Education Needs (SEN) is increasing. As part of Dyslexia Awareness Week (31st October – 6th November 2011) Mark McCusker, CEO, Texthelp Systems (www.texthelp.com), comments:
“The findings from the DfE highlight the significant effects that SEN can have on a person’s learning. Just 20 per cent of children with SEN leave school with five decent GCSEs, including the key subjects of English and maths, in comparison with 66 per cent of their classmates. With these findings and the estimation that one in six people in the UK are dyslexic, it is now more important than ever to recognise Dyslexia Awareness Week and the products that are available to help people with learning difficulties.
“The good news is that developments in technology are now making it easier than ever to access assistive technologies that can help students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, as part of learning or everyday activities. Students no longer need to worry about only being able to access software, such as text-to-speech or dictionary software, from a single computer at home - developments in internet ‘cloud-based’ technologies are making assistive software accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere and in a format that reflects the needs of the user.
“More and more software is being developed for smaller devices, such as smartphones, iPhones, iPod touch, iPads and tablets. In a first for education, Texthelp is leading the way and has developed a series of apps that are now available to assist students who experience difficulties with reading and writing, while on the move.
“At Texthelp, we feel that it is vital that people with SEN can access assistive technology in a format that suits them, wherever they are. To reflect this, we have developed the web apps to accompany our existing products, designed to help students with learning difficulties. These apps will be hosted in the cloud, making them accessible to students via online technologies that they are familiar with using.
“We believe that these apps are the perfect solution for students who have busy lifestyles and wish to access their preferred software on the go. The apps are beneficial in a number of ways, assisting with studies as well as day-to-day activities such as sending emails or text messages from a mobile phone.”
As evident at St Anthony’s School in Chichester, implementing the appropriate assistive technologies can have a huge effect in pupils’ learning. The school uses Texthelp’s Read&Write GOLD literacy support tool, designed to assist pupils who require extra assistance when reading or composing text. Maggie Price, ICT Coordinator for the school and teacher of children at Key Stage 3 and 4, comments:
"Previously, lower literacy levels got in the way of our pupils using the Internet effectively.With Read&Write, literacy is no longer an obstacle to their investigation and understanding.Read&Write is an essential tool if pupils with literacy problems are to take full advantage ofthe exciting and stimulating range of information available on the Internet.
“We use Read&Write principally for its text-to-speech functionality, in order to 'open up' theInternet to our pupils but it is really useful to have all the other tools on hand. The floatingtoolbar is designed so that different options are always easily accessible to users. The toolbar is very easy to use and not at all intrusive. It helps pupils to do the work that they are capable of by dismantling the barriers that their learning difficulties have erected."