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I have a reading difficulty, what can help?


  1. Introduction
  2. Getting started with technology
  3. Low Tech Technology
  4. Posters and Infographics
  5. Technology
  6. Reading Technology Checklist for learners with dyslexia
  7. Making things easier to read in Microsoft Word
  1. iPad Short Video Guides to Support Reading and Writing
  2. Chromebook Video Guides to Support Writing
  3. Specialist tools to support reading
  4. Digital and Audio Books
  5. Reading Pens
  6. Scanning apps


Learners with dyslexia may struggle to read fluently and have difficulty understanding what they read and because of these difficulties they may be reluctant to read and therefore will struggle to access much of the learning in school. Technology can address many of these support needs.

Source: Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit

Getting started with technology

Phonics for early learning and emergent readers

The development of phonic apps to support emergent reading has increased in recent years. Examples include:

Low Tech Technology

Reading overlays and sticky text highlighters.

The nature of paper-based books with black text on a white background can be challenging to those who experience visual discomfort or disturbance when they read.

For more on visual discomfort see the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) website section on Neurodiversity and Co-occurring difficulties.

Coloured overlays or colour transparencies can be placed over a page to soften the contrast of black text on a white background. Sticky highlighter strips can also aid the reading process as important words, sentences or phrases can be annotated in different colours.

Technology tools to aid reading

The 'Making a document dyslexia friendly' guide explains how to customise a Word document to improve readability.

Posters and Infographics

Addressing Reading Difficulties

The Addressing Reading Difficulties poster/infograph is a step-by-step guide in the form of a question and answer 'checklist' to help identify problems. It suggests a range of practical technology-focused solutions to support pupils with reading difficulties.

Addressing reading difficulties poster

Download the 'Addressing Reading Difficulties' poster.

A technology guide to creating a dyslexia-friendly classroom.

This poster/guide recommends 8 technology tips that you can easily and quickly implement, that are either built-in to the operating system or free to download.

Dyslexia friendly classroom poster

Download the 'technology guide to creating a dyslexia-friendly classroom' poster.

iPad Apps for Learners with Dyslexia (wheel of apps)

The 'Wheel of Apps' is not comprehensive, but attempts to identify relevant, useful apps and to categorise them according to difficulties faced by people with dyslexia / literacy difficulties.

Dyslexia Wheel of Apps

Download the 'iPad Apps for Learners with Dyslexia' poster.

The wheel of apps poster is also available for Chromebook and Android. These posters and others can be downloaded from the 'Posters and Leaflets' section of the website.


For a comprehensive overview of technology to support writing, see the CALL Scotland Technology section of the website.

Here you will find useful information on Speech Recognition, the Scottish computer voice, and Text-to-Speech as well as specific information on devices such as iPads, Chromebooks and Androids.


Mix of text readers on different devices

One of the most popular ways of helping learners to read is by using text-to-speech. A 'text-to-speech' program or 'text reader' on your computer or tablet reads text from a document or web page using a computer voice.

There are many text readers available, many are built-in to the device's operating system but it is also possible to buy (or download for free) natural-sounding and localised voice. You can find out more in the Technology text-to-speech section.

Reading Technology Checklist for learners with dyslexia

Technology checklist

The technology writing checklist (below) is designed to help pupils and staff identify and explore technology to help address specific needs arising from dyslexia.

It starts with each of the challenges listed in the Pupil Checklist for Dyslexia available on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and suggests some strategies and tools to explore and evaluate.

The tools suggested are mostly freely available or via your Glow log-in so everyone in a Scottish state school should be able to access them. There are separate links to each of the most popular devices in the columns Windows, Chromebooks (ChromeOS) and iPad (iOS).

These are ‘universal’ supports. They may or may not be the best tools to meet your own needs – apps and resources that you pay for may be better - but this should help you to get started with technology.

Download the Reading Technology Checklist for learners with dyslexia in Word format

Download the Reading Technology Checklist for learners with dyslexia in PDF format

Making things easier to read in Microsoft Word

Customising the screen on your device or the background and font colours can make all the difference.

Microsoft Word is a popular word-processing program, that is used extensively by schools across Scotland (via Glow) available as an app or online via a web browser.

CALL has created a series of short video tutorials on using Word to Support Literacy. The videos below explain how to use the built-in 'Saving and Setting the Font Style in Word' and 'Setting the Background Colour', and the brilliant 'Immersive Reader' - great tools that are readily available in Word to support reading.

  1. Saving and Setting the Font Style in Microsoft Word

  2. Setting the Background Colour in Microsoft Word

  3. Immersive Reader in Word Online

See the full playlist of videos - many of these tools are also available in Word Online for iPad and Chromebook via the browser.

iPad Short Video Guides to Support Reading and Writing

A series of short guides to support literacy difficulties using the iPad's built-in tools - tools to support reading include 'Making web pages easier to read with Reader View', 'Using Speak Selection to help Reading' and 'Highlight Content to aid visual focus and concentration'.

1: Using Speak Selection to help Reading

See the full playlist of videos of built-in tools to support reading.

Chromebook Video Guides to Support Writing

The Chromebook also includes tools to help with reading - the video below explains how to use Select to Speak in Google.

See the full playlist of Google Accessibility Features.

Specialist tools to support reading

As well as freely available built-in tools, specialist software/apps provide a more targeted approach to support reading. Examples include:

Clicker 8 and Clicker Books

Clicker 8 along with Clicker Books offers a child-friendly environment with tools such as text-to-speech to help young children to become confident readers. Clicker Books is available for Windows, iPad and Chromebook and offers numerous tools such as word prediction, word banks, text-to-speech and more.

Example of Clicker Books

Free software

A good example of free software is Natural Reader, a floating toolbar that reads text aloud by simply selecting areas of text.

Natural Reader toolbar

This illustrated article 'Text-to-Speech to Support Reading Difficulties' gives an overview of text-to-speech and explains how to Natural Reader.

All-in-one solutions

All-in-one literacy support tools tend to take the form of a 'floating toolbar' which sits on the desktop and includes a range of tools such as text-to-speech, options to change the font style, colour and colour background with colour masking tools. Typically, they also include picture and/or talking dictionaries and tools to convert text to audio/Mp3 files.

Digital and Audio Books

Digital Books and logos

With digital or eBooks it is possible to customise the reading experience, such as changing the font style, font and background colour as well as text-to-speech. Digital formats can help learners who have difficulty reading ordinary printed books, including those with dyslexia.

If you are a teacher in a Scottish local authority school, you can download books for the Scottish curriculum in accessible formats.

Visit the CALL Scotland Books for All website to find out more

RNIB Bookshare is a UK-wide resource with digital books, novels and textbooks

Read more on digital books including commercial books/devices for home use

Information on Audiobooks including free resources, a research article and more

Reading Pens

Reading Pens are small pocket-sized devices that scan and read back single words and lines of text from a variety of documents, such as worksheets.

The most popular reading pen is the C-Pen from Scanning Pens. They also provide an Exam Pen which has the same functionality as the C-Pen with the exception of dictionaries.

Read about the features, advantages and disadvantages of Reading Pens

Scanning apps

An alternative to the Reading Pen is the increasing number of apps for snapping, scanning and reading printed text. Scanning apps convert printed worksheets, flyers, pages of books into digital text that can be read aloud and customised to suit personal reading needs, e.g., colour backgrounds, font styles and colours etc.

Scanning apps

The following illustrated guides compare scanning apps and explain how to use them.

Apps to convert printed text; which one is best?

A free app that snaps and reads aloud text

Turn your iPad into an easy-to-use document scanner

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