Each week sees the introduction of new inexpensive tools and apps that are making learning easier for students with learning disabilities.
Summer can be a great time to try some of these free or inexpensive apps to see how they can benefit your student without the pressures of a new school year.
As an online tutoring company that works one on one with students with learning disabilities, we think it’s important that parents of LD students be aware of the educational help that these games and tools apps can provide.
That’s why we’ve found and tried out 3 iOS (Apple ) apps worth looking at on your iPhone or iPad today. These apps are not necessarily unique but are the ones we feel are among the best in their class for LD students.
All iOS apps can be found online in the Apple App store, which is explained here:
Android applications (next part of this series ) are available in the Google Play store.
Voice Dream Text To Speech
Voice dream is a versatile text to speech application that reads text on the screen aloud for the user and does much more . Having reached the top 10 in the Apple Store education category, Voice Dream Reader is the one of the most accessible reading tools available.
This app is good for students with dyslexia, visual processing disorders , ADHD and students whose reading level is below grade level.
Listening to material being read aloud while visually following the text can improve reading skills. By engaging multiple senses, listening along with the text can improve reading comprehension and retention, increase vocabulary, and improve fluency.
Voice Dream comes with a long list of features that includes a flexible and customizable screen display. The user can choose the font text on the screen from a wide selection of fonts, including the Open Dyslexia font.The app can also adjust margins, line and character size spacing to fit the user’s reading preferences. This screen customization option is important for many LD students.
The reading speeds of the text on the screen can easily be sped up or slowed down depending on the user’s visual or listening speeds. Students can select the read aloud function to either read, listen to or both read and listen to text at the same time.
Voice Dream works with a variety of file formats, including PDFs, webpages, Word documents and EPUB. This means that students can import source text to be read aloud from class notes , text books in text format ,e-books, documents on the on the web etc .Students have the ability to highlight and annotate text. All features are fully accessible with the VoiceOver accessibility features built into Apple operating systems.
One drawback is the lack of support for Kindle, IBooks or Nooks, limiting its usefulness across platforms. Voice dream’s reading voices (37) are sometimes somewhat mechanical and can be distracting, although in-app purchases of alternative voices are available.
Overall,this app is smooth, highly versatile and can be of great use to students who have difficulty reading and otr retaining material.
Price: At about $10 it’s more expensive than the average app but provides enough value to justify the cost.
Great for students with: Dyslexia, visual processing disorders, reading disorders.
This free iPad app was created by parents for a son with both dyslexia and dysgraphia.
ModMath is an assistive tool app that helps students create legible math equations and write out math problems
The app provides users with virtual graph paper they can use to type a math problem on the screen, rather than having to write out the problems by hand.
A blank sheet of graph paper appears when kids first open the app. Tap in a cell and a keypad appears. Kids use the keypad to enter the numbers and symbols for their equations and hit the DONE button when they are finished. The program automatically keeps numbers and symbols neat and lined up
Icons across the top of the screen allow kids to add new worksheets, adjust the color settings, and access a detailed information screen. There is also an icon that kids can tap to manage their sessions.
A session includes all of the worksheets created on a particular date. Kids can email and print entire sessions or selected worksheets.
Unfortunately, each worksheet can only hold one problem meaning that longer homework sessions will require multiple worksheets to be kept open, which can get confusing. Similarly, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of using the onscreen keyboard, especially for fractions. Finally, the app also doesn’t have a lot of extra features, but this can be a positive if your child gets easily distracted.
Considering that it is a free app, ModMath is a great tool for students who have difficulty keeping their math homework readable.
Great for students with: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, visual-spatial disorders.
Dragon Box Algebra 5+ and Algebra 12+
Any sentence with “Algebra” in it seems like something that students would avoid like the plague, but Dragon Box is a game that students and parents will love.
Created by a high school math teacher and a leading cognitive scientist, these innovative games were designed as a fun and interactive way to learn algebra.
The games are essentially designed to look and feel like any number of popular app-store games out there today, but integrate entertainment and instruction so seamlessly that learning gameplay is essentially learning algebra. By the time kids win the game, they’ll be shocked by how much they’ve learned.
Dragon Box Algebra 5+ is aimed at introducing algebra to students Grades 4- 8 or students who need basic algebra brushups. Ten chapters get increasingly complex, and drag-and-drop simplicity teaches kids to solve, balance, and reduce multivariate equations and overcome fears about learning math. Kids get introduced to an algebraic concept with cute cartoons of baby dragons and non intimidating language.
Dragon Box Algebra 12+ is for helping students in middle school and high school improve their grades and self-confidence.
Users are awarded stars depending on what they get right, one star for solving for X, one star for doing so in the amount of moves allotted, etc. As users progress, they are rewarded with a dragon that hatches, grows and eats things with each chapter that is completed.
The games are elegantly designed, with graphics on par with most mobile games today.Learning is kept gradual, so that users aren’t overwhelmed, and there are ten progressively more difficult chapters filled with amusing cartoons and interesting challenges to keep them interested.There’s also a more traditional practice mode so kids can apply what they’ve learned to solve equations.
On the con side,the game sometimes offers little in the way of hints or help. The developers of the game deliberately programmed it with experimentation and self-discovery in mind, but some users can get stuck on harder levels and quickly become frustrated.However after one unsuccessful try at a level, kids can tap to see the solution.
Ultimately, though, we think Dragon Box Algebra (especially 12+) can be a great tool for helping students in middle and high school develop their math skills and confidence in a way that they might enjoy.
Great for students with: Math difficulties, particularly weaknesses in algebra.
Platform Apple (Apple Store )
AND Android (Google Play ) .