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 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.



  1. This is awesome, Brian!! My son is going into 8th grade and has been using Kurzweil since 4th. The schools have also been resisitant to it, but he a new teacher this year and I’m going to share your blog with her and the principal! As for scanning, there is a Document scanner app for cell phone as well as hand held scanners that sell fro about $100. That way you won’t have to leave class. Another idea is to have the teachers give you the worksheets ahead of time so they’ll be scanned in before class. Thansk for your blog! I’ll check it every day! You are bookmarked!!

    Coleen Burger, mom to Jax, 13, stroke survivor

  2. I’m glad you find Brian’s blog helpful.

    Thanks for your suggestions about the scanner. Have you found one that doesn’t take too much time to complete the process of scanning and converting to Kurzweil? Since non-disabled students have immediate access to hand-outs, the time it takes to scan during class puts Brian behind his peers. We requested that documents be provided in advance so he could scan them at home and have them ready for class, but the district refused.

    I hope your son’s teacher and principal are receptive to your ideas.

  3. Hi Brian’s mom! I just heard from another Kurzweil user that the Doxie scanner is good for the classroom. It’s fast and for documents particularly, alhtough it does photos, too. Amazon has it for $149. Hope Brian’s school district will wise up! Can that be written into his plan if he has one?

    Thanks for writing!


  4. Hey, I just stumbled across this article while searching on how to notify BookShare that I’m scanning a book. Personally, I find the camera apps for the iPhone and other cellphones hard to use successfully. I purchased the Canon LiDe 200, and it works great with Kurzweil! It is a flatbed scanner a bit bigger than a 8.5-11 piece of paper, and about as thick as a laptop! If you have a padded 15-inch laptop bag, it will fit nicely. I try to keep it cushioned as much as possible, as I don’t want it breaking–but it’s quite stirdy and scans pretty quickly. Kurzweil plays nicely with it, too. Just remember to plug it in before you start Kurzweil as Scan Gear, the program that comes with it, will complain that it could “not communicate with scanner.” This usually has the unpleasant side-effect of crashing Kurzweil and may freeze your machine for a bit. But other than that, it’s an awesome scanner, and only about $100!

    I often had problems leaving class when I had to scan documents. Some teachers were all right with it, but others made things a real pain! Those were the ones who didn’t provide documents early so I could scan them! It annoyed me to no end! If you will not accommodate me, I have to work around it! But don’t then complain when I cannot get things done according to your rules or in a timely manner! Sheesh! Sorry, I don’t mean to rant.

    I’m glad to have the scanner I do now. It saves so much hassle, even if it does make some noise and may disturb some classmates. All in all, though, it’s pretty quiet, all things considered.

    I didn’t have one of my own in high school, and had to go all the way back to my resource room to scan documents.

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