Listing of Assistive Technologies – Non-Computer Tools


A vast range of gadgets and electronic devices are available to assist you in combating your learning disorder. Some of them are specifically mark eted for Dyslexics, but the majority have been designed for the general public and are therefore affordable.

Four of the more popular non-computer devices are:

  1. The Oxford Reading Pen Suppose you come across a word in a book that you don t know? Has this ever happened to you? Well, if you re Dyslexic, looking the word up in a dictionary can be quite complicated. But this device acts as a hand-held scanner. You run it over the word in the book and it reads it. Then, at the push of a button, you ll hear the word pronounced out loud by the pen. You ll also receive the word s definition.This is a very interesting and potentially useful device, but I found it a bit awkward to hold.
  2. The Franklin Spell Checker and Dictionary This device is a desktop electronic dictionary/thesaurus with built-in speech capability. Personally, Use the LM- 6000B model, which contains 130,000 words and 500,000 thesaurus entries from the US Merriam-Webster Dictionary. This device is wonderful! Its computerized voice can speak aloud each letter, word and definition.I especially appreciate the Franklin Spell Checker because of all the difficulties I ve experienced using the spell checker function on my computer. Computerized spell checkers are usually designed by non-Dyslexics and don t always cater to our specific needs.

    For example, some computer spell checker packages may indicate that a word has been incorrectly spelled, and then offer a list of alternatives. Unfortunately, each of the suggested words are usually spelled in very much the same way! At very least, they all look the same. This isn t helpful for a Dyslexic person. It just offers another opportunity to get similar words confused and, eventually, to mix them up and use the wrong one.

    Remember: it s sometimes impossible for a Dyslexic with visual discrimination difficulties to correctly identify the word they require. But these difficulties can be solved by checking with a Franklin Speller. When you type a word into the Speller phonetically, it can “speak back” and give you the meaning of the word, too. That way you ll know if you re using the word you really wanted. Presto! Your spelling nightmare is over!

    To contact the Franklin company:
    Call 1. 800.525.9673 or visit:

  3. The Victor Reader CD Player This is a mach ine that plays audio CDs specifically formatted for the library of Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.
    To find out more about this incredible resource, visit their website at:
  4. Recording Devices (digital and tape)Audio Books have become all the rage over the past ten years. An audio book is a recording of someone (usually a trained actor) reading a book s text aloud. You don t have to read the book, you can listen to it. Audio Books are now available virtually everywhere in CD, tape cassette, or MP3 file download formats. For Dyslexics in particular, this style of learning is completely invaluable. You can now digest material without having to leap all the hurdles that your Dyslexia places in front of you. Audio Books have become so popular that you can now buy the recorded version of nearly any book normally available in hard or soft cover.Some great websites for Audio Books are listed below:

  5. Make Labels! For example, I fought against my natural disorganization by buying a label-making mach ine. Right now, everything in my house has a label on it. The drawers, the boxes in my closets, even some of the cupboards. Why waste precious mental energy trying to remember where very little thing in my life is? The labels do the work for me.
  6. Your College or University Learning Disabled Resources Keep in mind that universities will provide recording equipment for the learning disabled with the professor s consent. Of course, this information was never given to me voluntary. In general I found that higher education systems aren t very forthcoming when it comes to the resources they offer to those suffering from Dyslexia and ADHD. There s a good chance that you ll encounter the same situation.Here s another suggestion: get familiar with the computer department at your college or university. You ll probably be surprised when you ask for help – as the old saying goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my own experience, every time I asked for help from someone in the computer department at my university, I was always treated with immense respect and kindness. This is especially important since teaching those who have learning disabilities or Attention Deficit is never easy; we tend to want to jump from subject to subject. But – if you ask for help – more than likely someone will be pleased to offer you the lessons you seek.

    Remember: you have to advocate for your rights!Unfortunately, they will not be handed to you on a silver platter.

    Yes, it s ironic that students suffering from LDs have to put forth so much extra effort to obtain the tools that only begin their journey into reading and writing. But it s better to demand what s coming to you and work a little easier in the long run than it is to hide your disease and suffer quietly. BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THIS!!!

  7. Libraries Twenty years ago, I would have never been able to imagine myself saying this. But the library can now be a Dyslexic person s best friend! Recent advances in technology have made libraries much more fun and easy to use!Did you know, for instance, that the New York City Public Library offers e-books and audio books on loan now? All you need is a library card – and many libraries around the country have followed suit. Their collections are sometimes limited, but don t worry – they re growing fast! Visit the NYC Public Library -e-book collection

    This is a huge step forward for Dyslexics. E-books can be downloaded and carried on your Palm Pilot. Audio books can be downloaded and listened to on your iPod (Advertising weblink?) – you don t have to hassle with reading text anymore. Even the software required is free. You don t even have to return e-books to the library – when your e-book is due, the files will automatically lock out.

    My suggestion is this: check for the availability of e-book services in your state. As technology continues to advance rapidly, e-books and audio books will probably become more accessible – but there s no reason you can t start using them now!

    Here s another option: join the RFB&D library (Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) located in Princeton NJ . They provide a great service – you can get most of your textbook on cassettes and CD. To become a member, you must fill out an application and get it signed by your doctor or a social worker. But this can all be done by fax or by mail. There is a fee of $75.00. You can reach the RFB&D library at or by calling 800.221.4792.

    There is a down side. The tapes you get from the RFB&D library can only be played on a four-head tape mach ine (they re pretty clunky to carry around with you – not really the latest technology). Also the CD s they use require a special CD-player or software that must be installed on your computer. You can purchase these items directly from the RFB&D library, but it incurs an extra expense. Or you can apply to obtain the four-track cassette player at no cost from the United States government, so long as you obtain a document signed by your doctor. Check the Internet for instructions at:

    I also recommend that you explore the resources available at:

    • In New York CityThe Andrew Heiskell Library for the Blind and the Physically Handicapped
      40 west 20th Street
      New York, NY 10011
      Tel: 212-206-5400
    • Or try the following assitive library technologies:The CD Victor Reader
      A machine that plays CDs formatted by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.
      Visit their website at: ictor Reader Software
      A computer application for reading digital audio books.
      You can obtain a 30-day trial at the following website: