Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tech Resources to Support Older Student & Adult Challenged Readers

Struggling to read affects more than merely the challenged reader. It can affect that reader's family, his community and certainly society as a whole. Our literacy rate here in the U.S., as determined in the findings from the U.S. Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NALS-2003), is one of real concern. Currently, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.

We know that literacy is a learned skill. We also know that illiteracy is something passed down from parents who can neither read nor write. However, can you imagine the even more daunting challenges of an older student who is in high school AND still learning to read? No longer is it only about the reading hurdles, but the older student's self-esteem also becomes a significant issue.

According to current statistics, 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will eventually be incarcerated or on welfare. In addition, more than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate with 70% of them unable to read above a 4th grade level. These statistics prove that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.

What are the causes of these staggering percentages? Many educational experts believe that the country's economic situation over the past five years has played a part. Also, the current issues with immigration and the high school dropout rate are other important reasons for the poor literacy numbers. However, one significant contribution to the problems of illiteracy in the U.S. is the large number of individuals with undiagnosed learning disabilities.

There are many older and students and adults who struggle to read because of learning differences and disabilities not "caught" or noticed during their elementary school years. Even fewer may have received an appropriate diagnosis for the source of their reading or learning struggles.

With recent reports showing that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year, we as a nation must step up to address this situation that affects so many lives. This is part of the motivation for our article this week. We wanted to provide an array of technological resources more specifically for older students and adults who daily struggle to read. We hope you will share them with a challenged older student or adult reader you know.

Tech Resources to Support Older Student & Adult Challenged Readers

iPad and iPhone Apps for Low Vision from the U-M Kellogg Eye Center
A collection of apps for persons with low or impaired vision from (but not endorsed by) the University of Michigan-Kellogg Center. Direct links to the apps' download pages are also provided. Many apps are FREE here with a few others available at various price points.

Apps for Literacy Support (for iPad & Android) from the Spectronics Consultancy Team
A COMPREHENSIVE list of literacy apps with direct links to individual download pages. A few are FREE, but most are available at various price points.

Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the low-tech, physical Reading Focus Cards tools (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app provides very practical support for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, low vision, stroke or brain injury issues, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. This desktop application promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the app supports touch-screen technology (where applicable).
1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks):
Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to
2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
Visit Gumroad at OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

Using iPads to Support Older Students Struggling with Literacy-Full day Video! by Greg O'Connor (presenter) & Spectronics
Learn about apps like Evernote (for time management, note-taking, task completion and organized retrieval of researched materials). Consider alternative note-taking formats such as those offered by ClaroPDF. Explore improvements to students’ reading comprehension and proofreading skills via text-to-speech apps such as iReadWrite. Discuss the pros and cons of speech recognition on the iPad. See writing supports like word prediction within Co:Writer and WriteOnline come to life on an iPad.

Top 10 Apps for Literacy Support by Amanda Hartmann (presenter) & Spectronics
(for iPad, iPod and iPhone only)
This webinar (just over 1 hour in length) will present the TOP 10 list of apps that may provide the different types of support for students in your classroom (mainly to read and access written text). One app is FREE, but most are available at various price points.

When High School Students Struggle with Textbook Reading from
Practical strategies for tackling textbook reading for older students


One World Literacy Foundation. "Illiteracy Statistics." One World Literacy. Accessed July 2, 2014.

WriteExpress Corporation. "Literacy Statistics." Begin to Read. Accessed July 2, 2014.

Blankenship, John. "Functional illiteracy continues to grow, but there is help." The Register-Herald. Accessed July 2, 2014.

National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). Accessed July 2, 2014. "11 Facts about Literacy in America." Accessed July 2, 2014.

For more information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

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