Guest Blogger: Perspective from a High School Student with Dyslexia

I am a high school student going into my sophomore year. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade. As a young kid I was always interested in learning new things. Because I had trouble reading my parents and grandparents would read to me for hours. I loved listening and learning about things that I would not have been able to read on my own, but could understand when someone read it too me. Spelling was also a challenge for me so in 3rd grade I got my first assistive technology devices, the Alpha Smart. The built in spell check feature helped me to express my thoughts and allowed the teacher to understand what I was writing.

Reading has always been and continues to be a challenge for me. I read much more slowly than my peers and stumble over words. In addition to reading more slowly than my classmates I also cannot comprehend the text well when reading on my own. As a result I started to use RFB&D in 5th grade. I started reading my novels and textbooks with RFB&D. When reading with RFB&D I am able to understand what I am reading and read more quickly. I like RFB&D much better than reading and started looking for other assistive technology to help me read and write.

In 6th grade I was introduced to Kurzweil which opened new doors for me. With Kurzweil I was able to read any document I had electronically and it gave me a lot more independence. I started learning about the features of Kurzweil and started using it more and more.

In 8th grade I started to use Kurzweil to take tests and do in class work with Kurzweil. I found Kurzweil to be an indispensible tool that allowed me show my knowledge and not be impeded by my reading trouble.

Soon after I started using Kurzweil I found that my school had very limited technology resources and were unfamiliar with Kurzweil. Luckily I found Brian Friedlander who taught me about Kurzweil many features. Dr. Friedlander continues to help me with assistive technology.

Currently I use Kurzweil, Bookshare and Apps for iPod Touch and iPad to help me. In class I sometimes get class work via emails from teachers, but more often I scan the worksheets myself during class.

My school has been trying to get me to stop using Kurzweil because they are unwilling to email me class work, and leaving class to scan takes too much class time. This year I will have to leave class and scan the documents myself during class time in order to have the document in an accessible format. I use Kurzweil to complete tests, quizzes, worksheets and homework.
Bookshare is another assistive technology software that I use. I read my novels and textbooks on my computer or with the Read2Go app on my iPod Touch. Without Bookshare I would not be able to comprehend books up to my ability.

Because assistive technology has helped me so much this year I decided to help others learn about assistive technology. I started a blog that has information about assistive technology devices and software. I update the blog once a day with a new post about assistive technology. The address of my blog is bdmtech.blogspot.com. In addition to the blog I started a reading group for kids with learning disabilities. The group meets once a week and we share ideas and tips about technology that could help the other members. As part of the reading group I have helped each member sign up for Bookshare and download books to read. With the blog and reading group I hope to help people with disabilities learn about devices that can help them.

-Brian