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Google Classroom and Dyslexia

by Shirley Lawson

on Mon Apr 06, 2020

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Many schools are using Google Classroom to provide continued education online to pupils at home during this period of school closures. Assuming that pupils have access to a device and wifi (and this is a big assumption…) they will be able to access resources that the teacher uploads, complete assignments, collaborate with peers and even have lessons delivered via livestream.

This unprecedented period will be causing increased anxiety for many pupils and for those with additional support needs who are not getting day-to-day support with schoolwork, this will be far worse. So, if the expectation is to continue learning through the use of Google Classroom, what assistive technology features could support a learner with dyslexia?

In this video, I have highlighted 2 very simple inclusive digital technologies that can support reading and writing.  For text to speech, I am demonstrating Claro Read extension (on the Chrome browser on my Windows laptop) which Paul mentions in his recent blog on Free Software for use at home.  There are other extensions that can be used to have text read aloud e.g. Texthelp’s Read & Write who are also offering upgrades for existing customers and free access to other products at this time.

There are other options too that can be used on a Windows laptop, such as the free text reader Natural Reader.  And if I was using a chromebook or iPad, I could use the in-built Speak Selection options.  Lots of choices – we just need to make sure that people know what is possible.  We have information on our website on a range of Text to Speech options depending on what device you are using.

I demonstrated Voice typing in Google Docs in the video. Quite often when I am out delivering training in schools, this option has not been considered for learners with spelling difficulties or who struggle to get their ideas down on the screen. I specifically chose to demo a question and answer table because it can be easier for pupils to use voice typing to answer a specific question rather than to start using it for an extended piece of writing which requires structure and planning. This takes a bit more practice. 

Maybe upload this video to your Google Classroom and school website? It’s important to get the information out there and to encourage your pupils to use these simple inclusive digital technologies. And the final message: don't be too hard on yourself for anything at this time, nobody needs any additional pressure for any reason :)

Tags: dyslexia, classroom

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