Thanks to the evolution of educational technology, more and more students with learning difficulties are finding accommodations that help them thrive in the classroom and in life.
That’s the experience of Elle-Mae (Elle) Taylor. A third year student at a British university learned during his freshman year there that he was dyslexic, but before that he found out Immersive Reader, a digital learning tool from Microsoft which helped overcome some of the challenges I faced at school. This tool not only improves their self-confidence and well-being when their learning-related stress is reduced, but also opens up more possibilities for their future, including their options for higher education and insight into career options.
“What Immersive Reader did was give me the ability to be on the same level as everyone else,” he said. “It helps me face certain challenges and makes me more successful.”
Elle’s journey to discovering her full potential as someone who only needs the right tools, techniques and attention to improve her reading and writing skills demonstrates how awareness-raising, and accessible technology, can have a profound impact on student learning and life in general, including those of people. people without learning differences. In the United States alone, 2.5 million student have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, which can affect their academic performance and progress and can contribute to emotional struggles. It grew significantly to include students in the UK and around the world. But assistive technology can also support how students feel about their learning and performance in areas where they struggle.
Some of Elle’s earliest school memories include being treated as less capable than others. He had messy handwriting and had trouble with things like expressing his thoughts clearly on writing tests, so his educators encouraged him to focus less on academics and more on sports and the performing arts. Although he is gifted in the arts, he has a more academic career in mind and wonders if his love of technology, which he excels at and finds innovative and creative, might somehow intersect with it. He became a student who wanted to learn and do better, but was discouraged by what he felt was a lack of support and solutions.
This endured in part because Elle didn’t receive a dyslexia diagnosis until she went to college. While she’s always known that certain jobs take longer to process, it’s not one of the more common difficulties she’s heard of related to dyslexia, such as seeing or writing random words on a page.
Everything changed when Elle was introduced to Immersive Reader, which was when she started using computers for her studies during the latter part of high school, known as the “Sixth Form” in England. His school’s accessibility services department alerted him to the device, which he said changed the course of his life forever.
Immersive Reader supports diverse learning styles.
Elle is able to admit her mistakes and perfect her work through the various features of Immersive Reader which she learns over time. It uses the page color feature, which changes the page background color and outline focus to allow users to focus more on one sentence of text at a time, and the Read Aloud feature, which uses text-to-speech to help users hear how their writing sounds. These and other features helped him better understand the online text he had to read for school and address sentence structure. Before, when I had to write by hand for homework and exams, I had to spend more time thinking about how to do it. However, features like Dictation in Word allow you to write essays by speaking them into the computer, which makes it easier for you to jot down ideas, then check for accuracy and clarity by listening to them Read Aloud.
Immersive Reader also helps with Elle’s self-expression. “This changed the success of my essay. I’m out of A-Level [Calificaciones de nivel avanzado] with the highest rating you can get,” he said. It is reshaping his future. “When I started getting better grades, I was able to get into a really good university.”
It gave Elle easier access to the learning disability assessment she needed to reveal her dyslexia. “When I had my dyslexia evaluation, they told me that my reading and writing skills were excellent, so it was as if I had overcome many challenges on my own.”
Elle’s career prospects changed direction. Because he was able to use assistive technologies such as Immersive Reader while taking a data and information systems course, he was able to explore more options and pursue technology as expected. And her increased self-confidence “allows me to apply for other types of jobs in technology or business,” says Elle. She applied for an internship at Microsoft, hoping to learn and do more in the area of using technology to improve accessibility and equity for students.
Now, Elle is thriving as a Microsoft intern and still uses Immersive Reader to check emails before sending them, and in other small ways in everyday life. At Microsoft, Elle has been involved in various jobs. Featured with the Microsoft Education Team to help customers determine which Microsoft Education solutions, including accessibility tools, might benefit them. She also founded TechHer Coding Day, making sure the day is accessible, to provide resources and guidance aimed at encouraging more women and non-binary students to pursue careers in technology.
“I think this can help in many ways,” Elle says of Immersive Reader, including taking the pressure off students who have been “very stressed and exhausted” lately. “I can help any student. I don’t think they need to suffer from dyslexia or other learning disabilities,” says Elle. “I think if more students knew about it, they would use it.”
With Microsoft’s built-in learning tools, students around the world can have the assistive technology they need. Learn more about how Microsoft learning tools can be of benefit to your students.
Tags: Accessibility, education, Educator, Immersive Reader
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