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Reading machines for students with LD

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By Marshall Raskind, Ph.D.

Putting it in perspective

There is no intention to suggest that handheld units are superior to desktop systems, or vice-versa, but, rather, that each technology must be considered relative to the needs of the specific individual, task, and setting. For example, there are individuals who may need almost every word read to them aloud, an operation that is easier to perform on a desktop unit. Or, a person might use a more portable OCR device if he needed to use the technology in multiple settings. Other factors such as cost, compatibility, ease of use, technical support, and reliability should also be considered when selecting any assistive technology.

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Reviewed February 2010

Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D., is a learning disability researcher. He is a frequent presenter at international LD conferences and is the author of numerous professional publications on learning disabilities. He is well-known for his research on assistive technology and longitudinal studies tracing LD across the life span.

Comments from readers

"Back in the 70's the Federal government provided 'controlled reading machines' through TITLE ??? funds. It was an actual piece of equipment with a view finder that a student looked into. It was a progressive program starting with identifying one letter at a time then two-letter words, three-letter words. The student progressed to phrases, short sentences, longer sentences, paragraphs, etc. Somehow the student was able to increase the speed of reading as their comprehension improved. Audio was also included. I remember a 5th grade boy in my son's class was so excited that he was able to read and understand what he was reading for the first time in his life. Does anyone know if such a device still exists and if so where could I get it? The computer programs sound good. But, I know someone who is easily distracted. The viewer on the reading machine blocks out distractions. "
"Dear Great Schools, In addition to Bookshare and the other resources you list there is also Recording for The Blind & Dyslexic. RFB&D is a 61 year old non-profit specializing in human-read (no synthesized voices here!) textbooks. Two of my children are dyslexic and simply could not listen to the automated voices. Once we found RFB&D their world changed. RFB&D has textbooks and literature in all subjuects from k-post grad. Plus, unlike bookshare, your child does not need to be on an IEP or ILP to qualify, just documentation from a professional that they qualify for the services. Another thing I like about RFB&D is they provide customer service and training. And, for individual students they are offering a free membership to their downloadable library. I am sure I am just scratching the surface with what they have to offer but I wanted to make sure other parents knew about this great service!"