Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NEW Desktop App Now Helps Even More Struggling Readers

It's no secret that in 2008, we began providing our inexpensive and easy-to-use Reading Focus Cards tools for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, low vision and other reading issues. Today, thousands of these physical, low-tech reading aids are in use across the U.S, Canada and in many other countries around the world.

Over the past several years, however, a number of our clients and readers here have asked us if or when there might be a Reading Focus Card APP developed to help even more struggling readers. We always thought it was a great question, and you can be sure that we listened!

Today, it is our great pleasure to announce that we now DO have such an application for use with Mac computers and notebooks as well as Windows PCs and Microsoft Surface tablets. This innovative, overlay-type app can now open new doors and eliminate many hurdles for a great number of challenged readers and struggling learners when they attempt to read web pages, downloaded e-books, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and more. (App download links provided at end of this article.)

A Brief History of the App

The glimmer of this software idea came to us way back in 2003---even before the word app was commonly used for a software program. The idea remained on the drawing board here at Brennan Innovators until 2009 when the first patent was issued for our low-tech reading tools, the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759). When orders for these physical reading tools began to arrive in increasing numbers, we started saving some of that revenue in preparation for possible app development. At the same time in 2009, a second patent application was submitted---this time, for the Reading Focus Card app idea.

In 2013 when that second patent was issued for this application by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, we felt it was (finally!) the appropriate time to turn our attention to the actual creation of the application. We began working with a clinical psychologist who understood the hurdles faced by challenged readers, a developer of special needs apps and an experienced educator to create a digital version of the physical, low-tech Reading Focus Cards first invented and prototyped in 1998.

The Reading Focus Cards App---Digital Tool to Help Even More Readers

The work of developing this idea born in 2003 has been most exciting, and now we finally have a practical DESKTOP app for Windows PCs, Macs and Microsoft Surface tablets that will provide needed digital READING SUPPORT for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, eye strain/visual stress, convergence insufficiency, low vision, Down Syndrome, stroke recovery/TBI issues (aphasia) and other conditions that can affect reading success.

The Reading Focus Cards app (Patent 8,360,779) provides the following:

1. Allows a user to change nearly all features of the digital reading tool. A reader can
increase or decrease the height and/or width
of the digital Reading Focus Card itself as well as those of the Reading Window Filter. This means that as much or as little text can be covered or uncovered on a webpage or digital document. It also means that the reader can choose what filter color through which he will read text.

2. Enables the user to change the colors of the tool features, allowing a user to view a chosen card color covering text not to be viewed AND to read text through a selected and more comfortable, colored filter. Other options for tool modification or adjustment are also provided via the application's Toolbox (disappears when reader chooses).

3. Is also compatible with and supports touch-screen technology (where applicable). A reader can interact directly with the digital tool to move it over text on a desktop screen with either fingers, a mouse or the arrow keys. If a user's hardware does not have a touch screen, then the mouse and arrow keys will provide the movement of the digital Reading Focus Card over the text needing to be read--at the speed desired by the reader. Regardless of hardware capability, the application stays on top of the text while in use, which eliminates further frustration by an already-challenged reader.

Now, ALL readers can enjoy more reading success with both the low-tech, customizable Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) for physical books, documents, etc. AND the high-tech Reading Focus Cards app (Patent 8,360,779) for much more FOCUSED online reading of nearly any digital media (webpages, e-books, PDF files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets & more!)

Parent Testimonial

Recently, the parent of a teen son provided these comments about the NEW Reading Focus Cards desktop app:

"He chose a dark blue (reading) window with a black card. I like the fact the window can be widened or made smaller to fit an individual word on the screen (PDF). He read words individually that way. Then we widened the window to see the whole sentence and reread. It was much easier than pointing at the screen so he wouldn't lose his spot." ---J.B., London, ON

You, our loyal readers, have been most supportive of our efforts to help challenged readers and learners since this blog's inception in 2010. Hopefully, our re-doubled efforts (along with your continued support) will now go toward helping even more struggling readers---regardless of age, ability or the media format presented. Thank you for that great support!

Happy Reading---NOW for EVERYONE!

Direct links to access and purchase the Reading Focus Cards desktop app ($5.99 per download)

1. For Macs:
Visit the Mac App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12

2. For Windows PCs:
Visit Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

To learn more about the Reading Focus Cards app (Patent 8,360,779), please visit http://www.focusandread.com/page/488513590.

For more information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Raising Awareness & Providing Supportive Resources for Dyslexia

Many of our loyal readers already know that we often present information in this blog on the topic of dyslexia and other reading challenges. As we conclude Dyslexia Awareness Month here in the U.S. and begin Dyslexia Awareness Week 2014 (November 3-9) in the U.K., we thought it timely to present an article here about what dyslexia actually is and some helpful resources to support families challenged with it.

First of all, what IS dyslexia? The International Dyslexia Association provides the following definition:

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations or extra support services.
(Source: International Dyslexia Association---Please see links to follow.)

Dyslexia affects approximately 20% of the population in the U.S. (1 in 5 individuals). For some individuals who have never been diagnosed, dyslexia is a hidden disability which may result in underemployment, difficulty navigating academic environments, difficulty on the job and decreased self-esteem or confidence. Even those who have been diagnosed are likely to struggle with reading or writing in some aspects of their lives. Dyslexia is a specific reading difference and does not reflect low intelligence. In fact, there are many bright and creative individuals with dyslexia who are challenged throughout life with reading, writing and/or spelling. Often, however, with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can learn successfully.

This week, we have a large basket of resources to help. In our list, you'll discover some of the best tools, books and support organizations to provide the help needed for individuals of ANY age struggling with dyslexia. We hope you will take advantage of at least a few of these resources. Someone's future could depend on it!

Helpful Dyslexia Tools & Apps

OpenDyslexic Font (FREE)
Created by Abelardo Gonzalez
OpenDyslexic is a new, open-sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles. It is being updated continually and improved based on input from dyslexic users. There are no restrictions on using OpenDyslexic outside of attribution. FREE download via this link.

The Reading Focus Cards
(Patent 7,565,759)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A.

APP---Overlays! (for OS X 10.8 or later---Price: $6.99)
Created by Abbie Gonzalez
Use to help with reading or sometimes to help following large tables and lists of data. Battle the wall of text, eyestrain and distractions with this on screen overlay to help you keep your place!

APP---Reading Focus Cards (for Macs & Windows PCs---Price: $5.99)
(Patent 8,360,779)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the Reading Focus Card app is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology. The application can be moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed.

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 https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards 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.)

Best Books for Dyslexia

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level
by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.; Vintage (2005)

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide
by Pam Wright and Pete Wright; Harbor House Law Press (2006)

The Gift of Dyslexia
by Ronald D. Davis, Eldon M. Braun; Penguin Group-USA (1997)
(first published May 1, 1993)

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain
by Brock and Fernette Eide M.D.; Plume (2012)

Dyslexia Support Organizations

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity serves as a nexus for research on dyslexia, and is as well a leading source of advocacy and information to better the lives of people with dyslexia.

The International Dyslexia Association
This well-known organization provides general information and support for persons with dyslexia. The following link presents an online Dyslexia Self-Assessment for Adults
FAQ page: http://www.interdys.org/FAQ.htm

Decoding Dyslexia
Decoding Dyslexia is a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system. We aim to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children and inform policy-makers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia.
For more information and to learn if your state has an affiliate branch of this organization (currently 47 states do), please visit the link provided here.

National Center for Learning Disabilities (Section on Dyslexia)
The National Center for Learning Disabilities improves the lives of all people with learning difficulties and disabilities by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact. The link to follow here provides general information, dyslexia symptoms/warning signs categorized by grade level and resources to help parents and teachers.

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy
Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. - See more at: http://wrightslaw.com/#sthash.ajmQK87L.dpuf

Dyslegia: A Legislative Information Site
This website is maintained by Davis Dyslexia Association International to report and track pending legislation in the United States. This blog-based web site is a resource for sharing information about legislative initiatives, as a forum for discussion and exploration of policy issues, and as a communications tool to encourage citizen participation and involvement with their representatives in government.

For more information on customizable reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com