How to deal with computers while having Dyslexia?

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REVIEWED BY NUMBERDYSLEXIA’S EXPERT PANEL ON JUNE 17, 2022

Advancement in technology has brought about many noteworthy upgrades in lifestyle. Undoubtedly, dealing with computers is an eminent part of it. Right from contacting loved ones to purchasing something, computers come in handy with a wide range of purposes. But some people, like those with Dyslexia, may have some challenges in operating these devices. 

In areas like typing, or inferring text from the screen, these individuals can have notable issues. In this post, we will talk about the probable areas where people with learning difficulties can face challenges when it comes to working with computers. And with this idea, you can dive into working tips and strategies to efficiently deal with computers. 

Dyslexia and computers in daily life

Computers have become an inevitable part of our lives. However, working with them might not be smooth sailing for everyone. Hence, Let’s understand in what all areas dyslexics find a challenge when it comes to operating computers. Here are some insights worth noting:

1. Dealing with Typing

Typing is a basic skill that a user needs to input data into a computer. This ability needs good motor skills, bilateral coordination, spatial knowledge, and endurance. Most often, Dyslexics may not be able to type for long durations with efficiency due to the need for these features. They may need to work on ameliorating these attributes to master typing skills. 

2. Screen Glares 

Screen glares can be a common issue for most Dyslexics. Due to the plain white background, they may feel washout or swirl effects. It is observed that having colored overlays can improve the speed of screen reading. 

Lisa M. Handerson[1] made research on both dyslexic and non-dyslexic undergraduates to see how overlays can help in better screen reading. It is outlined that these overlays can be equally useful for all learners to increase efficiency, which implies that Dyslexics can improve computer skills using overlays. 

3. Text fonts

The size and fonts of the text can make a great difference for Dyslexic computer users. There is a list of good and bad fonts for them. Choosing common options like Arial or opting for specialised fonts like OpenDyslexic can improve the usability of the device. Suitable fonts are either simple or are weighted on one side to make comprehension easier for these individuals. 

5. Writing program codes

Coding is an important skill that needs a good understanding of syntaxes, numbers, and structuring. Mastering these can be challenging for Dyslexics. But it was observed[2] that Dyslexics bring about their creativity and problem-solving skills in programming along with some challenges like short-term memory and spelling. This means that Dyslexics can do coding but face some minor glitches in this process.

Should dyslexics deal with computers?

The above insights make it clear what it is like dealing with computers being Dyslexic. These insights point out areas where these special individuals face challenges. While most people can face initial challenges with computers, the above areas can be managed over time. 

Computers have a lot of benefits for Dyslexics, which makes it valuable for them to manage minor challenges if any. Nisha Sharan[3] did research to see how computers are assistive for dyslexia students. In a study conducted on students aged 13-15 with Swedish as a second language, it is concluded that computers are helpful for Dyslexic students. Nisha identified computers to be handy on the following grounds:

  • In improving the self-esteem and advocacy of students
  • Making students independent
  • Motivating them to clear doubts without feeling embraced.  

Dyslexics using computer- Tips to ponder 

From the above insights, it can be inferred that operating a computer is useful for dyslexics, but they may have a few hitches in the process. To address all of these areas, here are a few tips and strategies to make them work on computers efficiently:

1. Visual adjustments

As discussed in previous lines, screen glare can be a disturbing factor for users, especially for longer durations. There are a few solutions that can prove to be effective visual adjustments:

  • Users can change the background color or text color to make it more interpretable.
  • Ensure overlays to the computer screen 
  • Individuals can use Dyslexia Glasses. These are color-tinted glasses that people with dyslexia can wear while reading texts to improve their efficiency. 

2. Motor adjustments

For typing and other operations on the computer, good motor skills are needed. People with dyslexia can make appropriate arrangements to better use their motor skills with computers. First, they can undergo motor planning activities. Second, they can adjust their seat and computer height to the optimal state. 

3. Make use of multisensory communication

Computers support multimedia and multiple modes of communication, inputs, and outputs. So, the user can use voice commands to enter data instead of typing. Also, instead of reading the text, they can listen to it, making comprehension easier.  

4. Join Keyboarding courses

Individuals with dyslexia can go for some special typing courses that offer quick tips and insights. With these courses, individuals can get better at keyboarding and thereby better at dealing with computers. Some of the suggested typing courses include Read and Spell, KAZ Tutorial, Rapid Typing Tutor, and Typing bolt.  

5. Use dyslexia-friendly software 

There are multiple software available to make comprehension easy for Dyslexics. These can be text -to speech programs or Writing to Spelling Programs. Text-to-speech programs convert any piece of text into audio format letting the user listen to the text. This software can work on all types of files, making it easy for Dyslexics. Writing to spelling programs spell any word written/typed appropriately to teach these individuals the right spelling of the word. 

6. Video games assist

Video games are often perceived as a mode of recreation, but they have developing effects on crucial personality attributes like short-term and phonological memory and visual-to-auditory learning. 

Sandro Franceschini[4] made research to see if action video games improve reading abilities and visual-to-auditory memory in English children with Dyslexia. The results of the test showed that not just action video games but all other games also improve these crucial attributes. Accordingly, indulging in video games for disciplined time intervals can have a positive effect on people with dyslexia while dealing with computers.  

Concluding thoughts

Devices like computers are made to make life easier. With the wide variety of utilities it offers, these handy companions ease our life. Even if people with Dyslexia have a few issues operating them, there are working solutions, tips, and tricks to manage. Accordingly, any learning disabled individual can look into fitting tips to resolve or manage their hitches. Traverse through the insights and strategies elucidated above to see how these can help you or your loved ones to operate computers effortlessly. 

References

  1. Henderson, L. M., Tsogka, N., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Questioning the benefits that colored overlays can have for reading in students with and without dyslexia. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 13(1), 57-65.
  2. Powell, N., Moore, D., Gray, J., Finlay, J., & Reaney, J. (2004). Dyslexia and learning computer programming. Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 3(2), 1-12.
  3. Sharan, N. (2014). Computer: A tool for assisting students having dyslexia.
  4. Franceschini, S., Trevisan, P., Ronconi, L., Bertoni, S., Colmar, S., Double, K., … & Gori, S. (2017). Action video games improve reading abilities and visual-to-auditory attentional shifting in English-speaking children with dyslexia. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-12.

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