readerjane: Book Cat (Default)
[personal profile] readerjane
Is anyone out there familiar with literacy software?

My cousin's stepchildren have some learning disabilities. Neither the 14-year-old girl nor the 10-year-old boy read at anywhere near grade level. And the school district they live in doesn't have the resources for special ed programs.

But both of the kids enjoy computer games, and I'm wondering if there might be something out there which would help them learn to read better? Something not aimed at pre-schoolers?

I'll do some googling, of course, but I also wanted to ask because you all are awesome and knowledgeable. *G*

Date: 2012-09-16 02:56 pm (UTC)
lightgetsin: The Doodledog with frisbee dangling from her mouth, looking mischievious, saying innocence personified. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lightgetsin
There definitely are educational tools out there. I don't know much about the dedicated learning tools, but I know they exist. Two peripheral things I do know about.:

1. They might be able to get memberships to Bookshare (if the school district signs off, it'll be free). That'll get them access to a huge library of electronic books. The benefit being many people with reading disabilities benefit from reading electronically rather than on paper. Takes away the intimidation factor of a book you get when you've struggled for a really long time, plus you can adjust fonts, colors, other cues. Bookshare is working really hard to get school-related books up as well, and if the kids have an alternate source for class materials, that could help.

2. There are a lot of programs that do other stuff, but that will also read a book out loud and visually highlight each word as it is spoken. This is supposed to be really helpful in certain situations. I'm sure you can see why. The Bookshare IOS app does this for their books. Kurzweil (ocr software) does it, but that's a lot of money to spend if you don't need the main functions of Kurzweil. Might be a better more dedicated tool out there that does it.

As for the school district, they might not have the resources, but it is really, really important that the parents do their homework on this one. The kids need IEPs, they need documentation. Even if it doesn't get them anywhere right now, it is absolutely essential that a paper trail starts as soon as possible. This is because they will soon be in the realm where standardized testing decides a lot of the opportunities that you get, and being appropriately accommodated on those tests -- particularly for learning disabilities -- can be enragingly difficult, and if you haven't documented bakc through elementary school, sometimes impossible.

Strictly speaking, if the district can't provide special ed programs, it is required to provide an alternative -- allow use of a neighboring district's programs, bring in a dedicated specialist, whatever. This . . . usually doesn't happen. But bare minimum the parents should keep shouting until the kids get professionally assessed with a full battery of tests. Documentation, yeah, but also the professionals may be able to give the parents a lot of tips for what to do at home, even if the school isn't pulling its weight.

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