Iphone As A Tool For Reading Disabilities Education Essay

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To my study participants. it is literally true that this dissertation could not have been completed without your participation. Thank you.ABSTRACT

Through assistive technology, people with disabilities are able to bridge the gap between what they want to do and what they are physically and mentally capable of doing.

The Purpose. To examine dislexic students experience using iPhone as Assisitive Technology at their daily academic life and determine the satisfaction with, and use of it to support their reading disabilities.

Method. I use predominantly qualitative methods to collect and analyze data. Collective cases study approach was used, individual semi-structured interview and observation were conducted with 5 participants with Dyslexia in regards to the impression that the iPhone had on their reading disabilities.

Result. iPhone can be integrated as an alternative assistive technology into educational practice and students experience immediate bene¬ts for their function in everyday school activities without detrimental effects on their social participation.

Conclusions. Students express satisfaction not only with the device that they receive but also with the special purpose software provided to support their studies.




Reading disabilities such as dyslexia are life-long conditions affecting an estimated 5-15% of the population. For students with these conditions, participation in their classroom can be problematic.

Computer systems and software (both general- and special-purpose) are supplied to students in postsecondary education and studies. For such technologies to be successful, though, they must be adopted into regular use. Unfortunately, studies have shown that 35-50% of all assistive devices are abandoned after purchase.

A key element in these factors is the invisible nature of reading disabilities. People with reading disabilities often choose to not disclose their disability. As using an assistive technology may make one's disability evident to others, choices made about technology usage are complex social negotiations involving issues of identity, normalcy, and disability.

Today, technology is moving at a rapid pace and new technology specifically smarts phones are becoming more popular and more useful, they might be a new alternative as reading-support tools by reading-disabled students. Researching on the smart phones market I have found out that Apple has been for more than 25 year dedicated to developing different products with many built-in features that engage all students, enhance their studies, and inspire them to achieve their best regardless of physical or learning disability.

I have conducted an ongoing review of the literature on dyslexia, computer-aided reading, and accessible technology and I've synthesized this knowledge to identify areas where the Apple devices can help students. In particular, I have identified that due to all its features iPhone can be an excellent choice to expand the alternatives of Assistive Technology for students (high school, college, etc.) with reading disabilities.

My particular research focus is to use the iPhone as a new alternative of assistive technology for supporting students at high education with reading disabilities. I want to evaluate if this technology could meet usability standards and could be as adoptable for use as possible.

Through my exploration, I hope to impart some useful recommendations that can be used in constructing more accessible and enjoyable assistive technology for students with reading disabilities.


2.1 Accessible Technology

Students at High Education can receive benefits from programs designed to provide support. Universities and colleges are required to implement intervention and remediation programs for students identified as having learning disabilities, including dyslexia. Adults with dyslexia have often compensated by developing unique strategies for overcoming their difficulties (Wilson & Lesauz, 2001).

Assistive technology is able to provide help for dyslexic adults. Assistive technology is any technology that has the potential to enhance the performance of a person with a disability. Although the computer is the most commonly used device associated with assistive technology, other devices include tape recorders, word processors, spell checkers, and calculators. More complex devices such as speech synthesizers, optical character recognition systems, listening aids, and speech recognition systems are included (Raskind & Higgins, 1998).

2.2 New Technology means new ways to learn.

New generations of students are trending away from computer use because desktops, and even laptops, are too unwieldy, location-centric, and thus inconvenient. The Guardian recently reported the sentiment that email [and by extension the computer] is for old people as students "live and die by their mobile phones".

As students migrate to the versatility, mobility, and convenience of mobile phone they can listen to music, watch videos, text or call friends, email, surf the Web, play games all on a pocket-size device, the previous allure of the laptop computer is rapidly waning. Mobile phones will soon be commonly available with full-scope projection systems, full-size keyboards made of light, and speed and memory suitable for a wide variety of multitasking activities.

2.3 Iphone Built-in solutions that break down barriers to learning

Digital tools integrated into the iPhone devices build confidence and comfort in and out of the classroom. Students who have difficulty with traditional forms of classroom communication can express themselves using software, movies, audio presentations, and music and reading disable students can take advantage of the world's first gesture-based screen reader built into iPhone 3GS and Iphone 4. Because these and other tools are standard, the same hardware can serve everyone in their classroom, no matter how diverse their needs. Some examples are:

Students with reading comprehension difficulties can use Text to Speech to hear the words they're reading onscreen.

• The built-in camera and software on the phone make it easy for students to collaborate in real time using text messages or video conferencing. They can engage in group chats, share their work, edit documents during a chat session, and even communicate with sign language.

• To improve auditory comprehension, Classroom material can be created as a podcasts of conversational speech. Once downloaded to an iPhone, students are able to listen repeatedly, making it easy to study correct inflection and speech patterns.


An important requirement for a successful piece of accessible technology for disable people is that the user must actually want to use it. People with dyslexia often choose to not disclose their disability. As using an assistive technology may make one's disability evident to others, choices made about technology usage are complex social negotiations involving issues of identity, normalcy, and disability. iPhone delivers a variety of innovative features that make it more accessible to those students with reading problems, Dyslexics Students might take advantage of iPhone functions to use the same applications everybody else does.

Anotther issue is that even there is a plentiful supply of assistive technology to help the dyslexic individual studying at high education in the UK but many of them are very pricely. iPhone is relatively cheap compared to special-purpose software and computers and additionally the cost of developing applications for those phones is also relatively low, leading to a host of new software designed to make life easier for those with disabilities. Even more it would be then a very good challenge for students at high school capitalize on the pervasive use of this device for educational purposes.


The iPhone and similar mobile devices have revolutionized what many people might consider their primary mode of communication "the mobile phone". Beyond one-to-one communication, they can be used for a variety of applications that enrich communication or simply entertain. We want to determine if such device could be used for Assistive Technology providing a new means of support and other interaction for those who are often saddled with single-purpose devices exclusive for disables. The main focus in this study is to investigate the use of iPhone by Dyslexics students and describe their experience using the device.


From the aforementioned purpose of study, this project is levied with the following objectives:

1) To Identify the AT used for dyslexics students specially in those who have difficulties to read in their academic environment at higher education.

2) To establish what kind of features and which kind of software developed for iPhone would be the most appropriate to solve the challenges presented for dyslexics students specially in those who have difficulties to read in their academic environment at higher education.

3) To test performance and usefulness of the applications selected to support the reading needs of dyslexic student at higher education.


This proposal will attempt to find the answers to the following questions:

Why Dyslexics student abandon their AT tools even they are very important for their academic performance at high school education?

How the iPhone platform (hardware and software) might support the reading disabilities in students?

Why the iPhone could be suitable and effective performing tasks as traditional assistive technology for Dyslexic students could be?

How the iPhone as assistive technologies address the critical issues of disclosure and privacy among students with reading disabilities?


Qualitative research method was adopted and a case study approach was followed in order to discover and assess reading disabilities student's reactions with the iphone in a real life context. The case studies carried out were analyzed and the analysis was used to support research questions.


The British Dyslexia Association's working definition of dyslexia, refers to "difficulties which affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing". For my study only reading disabilities are considered, and persons of interest are constrained to adults with reading problems assets as a Dyslexics, with a particular focus on adults enrolled in postsecondary education in UK. Tasks are constrained to those involving reading and can range from the informal (e.g., reading the newspaper, surfing the web, enjoying a novel) to the formal (e.g., reading for university courses or work). No restrictions are placed on the technology nor the sociocultural-environmental contexts. All possibilities for these two components are open for consideration. Through this mix of constraints and openness, a deep understanding of the complex factors that lead to the adoption and usage of ATs for students with reading disabilities is obtained. These insights also provide direction for evaluating current ATs on iPhone and provide recommendations for future design.


The methodology of the study incorporated ethical considerations, particularly confidentiality of respondents, also due to the small sample size, no attempt was made to control for ethnicity, gender distribution among the participants.

Having only one iPhone, I determined it is physically difficult to conduct large group experiments where people perform usability scenarios for statistics gathering. To consolidate, I opted to perform a very light study: individually-based experimenting with only 5 participants.


Chapter 1 - Research Overview

This will contain the research overview including background of study, statement of purpose, research objectives and approach.

Chapter 2 - Literature Review

In this chapter, the numerous literatures on the research title would be reviewed. These literatures will be under different headings and subheadings as they all relate to this research and the research questions listed above.

Chapter 3 - Research Methods

This chapter contains the chosen research methods for data collection for this project and the reasons why the researcher have adopted them.

Chapter 4 - Presentation of Case Studies

This chapter contains the presentation of the case studies used for this research. Case study was developed by a semi-structured interviews and direct observation with a group of participants.

Chapter 5 - Analysis of Case Studies

This section contains the analysis of the case studies presented in chapter 4. The case studies are analyzed and used as much as possible to arrive at answers for the research question raised in Chapter 1.

Chapter 6 - Conclusion and Recommendation

This section contains the conclusion of the researcher based on consulted literature and deduced answers to research questions by case studies. It further contains necessary recommendations based on research findings and suggestions for further research.



Assistive Technology is an ever-changing group of products and devices. Today devices everyone uses can be easily adapted to assist those with special needs. The current trend for technology is to make it simple to learn, to use, integrate, and support. This is welcome news to parents and caregivers of students with special needs. This new trend allows for more people to have the ability to use the technology. (My Child Without Limits, 2011).

For more than 25 years, Apple has been dedicated to developing products that engage all students, enhance their studies, and inspire them to achieve their best-regardless of physical or learning disability. Many Apple products come with built-in features that students everywhere can use to compensate their learning differences. iPhone is an excellent example of technology with the potential to enhance the teaching and learning experience of student with disabilities. In addition to serving as a means of communication, iPhone have the capability to run multiple applications that support and accompany students in their day-to-day activities. (Apple, 2010)

Apple recently opened a special section of their App Store to showcase learning and communication tools for students with special needs. These Assistive Technologies are for Apple mobile platforms like the iPad, iPhone and iPod. The aggregated tools contain the best of 3rd party applications, ranging from free tools to a few pounds per app. The section of the App Store, titled "Special Education: Learning for Everyone" features categories like Sign Language Development, Communication, Emotional Development, Literacy & Learning, and more. Apple's long history of encouraging technology in the classroom has extended their emphasis to educational mobile technology in post-millennium years.

Apple mentions that Macs have "dozens of assistive technologies - many of which you won't find in other operating systems at any price. And with the development of universal access features for iPhone, Apple is taking these technologies to a new level." This work provides an identification, analyses, and testing some of these assistive technologies in Dyslexics students with reading disabilities over the iPhone. By examining the results we will have evidence to decide whether or not the students can have benefits from these new types of technology for supporting their disabilities.


Many terms are used to refer to disabilities that affect reading. Dyslexia is perhaps the most well-known, but other terms used over the years include word blindness, phonological processing disorder, strephosymbolia (twisted letters), and visual stress (Edwards, 1994; Wolf & Boulton, 2007). Dyslexia is sometimes broken into different subtypes: auditory, phonological, and orthographic (Evans, 2001). Each term reflects changing scientific perspectives that emphasized or ignored different symptoms and traits (Pollak, 2005, Chapter 1). Rather than selecting one to use consistently, I choose to use the more general term, reading disability (RD).

2.1. Defining Reading Disability.

Still, defining reading disability is a complicated matter, due in part to a history of changing views as to underlying causes. As originally hypothesized by James Hinshelwood in 1895, a neurological deficit led to "word blindness" in individuals of otherwise fair intelligence. Debate and questions raged as to whether said deficit existed from birth or was the result of trauma (Edwards, 1994; Sandak, Mencl, Frost, & Pugh, 2004; Mooney, 2007).1 Others suggested that the fault lay in the eyes and other sensory systems (Edwards, 1994; Evans, 2001). Perhaps, voiced another group, RDs are not the result of a defect or problem, but just an extreme learning style or multiple intelligence antagonistic to reading (Powell, Moore, Gray, Finley, & Reaney, 2004; Mooney, 2007) or constructed and exacerbated via social expectations (McDermott, 1993).

Despite the hundred plus years of debate, two elements have always been present in the definition of RDs. First, and perhaps the more essential of the two, the person exhibits profound difficulty in learning and performing the process of reading and related tasks (e.g., writing and spelling). Secondly, the person is provably intelligent but still experiences difficulty with reading even after tutoring and education is provided.

2.1.2 Working Definition

Reasonable alternatives are thus always ruled out before diagnosing a reading disability. Although it may seem unscientific to define RD as poor reading performance for reasons not identified, let's to remember that reading disabilities are best thought of as a syndrome of related conditions. Moreover, reading itself is a complex process and problems can manifest at any point or points in that process. Diversity is to be expected. This is why after ruling out other possibilities, the definition of reading disability used in this dissertation reflects alternatives and the inherent diversity possible:

"A reading disability is a syndrome of multiple conditions in which a person experiences difficulty with one or more aspects of the reading process despite possessing sufficient intelligence, learning, practice, and sensory capability".

2.2 Assistive Technology Definition

A running theme throughout this dissertation involves issues in selecting appropriate terminology. To start, my choice of the term "assistive technology" bears some discussion. Within the field of disability and technology, several adjectives beginning with the letter 'a' are frequently used when discussing technologies and people with disabilities accessible, adaptive, and assistive. Although these terms may seem interchangeable, subtle differences exist.

Accessible technologies do not necessarily support or help people with disabilities. Accessible implies that a technology can be used by people with disabilities either directly or through an intermediary service or device. For example, a web browser is on the surface inaccessible to a blind user, but by providing various software hooks or application programming interfaces (APIs), screen readers can work with the browser to provide access. Thus, the browser is considered to be accessible.

Similarly, the term adaptive is sometimes used to refer to technologies that support users with disabilities. It is also used more generally to mean any technology that adjusts its function and interface to a user's needs (Gajos, Czerwinski, Tan, & Weld, 2006). This can apply to technology for both non- disabled and non-disabled users, leading to ambiguity in usage of the term "adaptive technology."

However, assistive is used to describe technologies that directly support and address the needs of users with disabilities. In the United Kingdom, assistive technology became an official term when it was legally defined in the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (1988):

The term "assistive technology device" means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

In my dissertation the term "assistive technology" can refer to device as mentioned above or to services that deliver and support the use of such devices.


The impact of a reading disability is not limited to how and how well the individual performs various tasks; having an RD can impact an individual's emotions, self-image, and interactions with others. In her case studies of young men with dyslexia, Edwards (1994) found that having dyslexia elicited additional burdens beyond academic difficulties. In struggling with reading while others appear to have little or no difficulty, the students experienced severe amounts of self-doubt, low-confidence, and feelings of isolation. Many of them reacted to these troubles in negative ways: behavioral problems, extreme sensitivity to criticism, and psychosomatic pain. A more recent study by Alexander-Passe (2006) confirms how low self-esteem, depression, patterns of avoidance, and stress management issues negatively impact the lives of teenagers with dyslexia. Reading-related tasks are likely to trigger anxiety, although may be attenuated by the audience and expectations placed on the reader (Tsovili, 2004). Riddick (1995) additionally argues that these social and psychological issues are secondary characteristics that arise as the person ages and interacts with society.

More generally, interactions with others can be troublesome for people with RDs. Due to misconceptions about what a learning disability is, some people doubt the existence of LDs or assume that the person is merely lazy or unintelligent. Edwards (1994) notes that many of the students in her study had been teased or ridiculed by their peers. In interviews with college students with learning disabilities, Cory (2005) found that when several of them told professors of their disability, the students were informed that such disabilities do not really exist and that they needed to just try harder. The knowledge that a person has a learning or reading disability can also lead people to lower their expectations for that person. In a case study of an individual child with LD across several learning environments, McDermott (1993) found that the child's ability to perform various tasks was directly affected by the expectations of the people around him. When people around him expected him to read poorly, he did. Otherwise, he still struggled but performed much better. As McDermott describes it, only when a proper unsupportive environment was present would the learning disability "acquire" the student into being disabled.

Given these negative associations of having a reading disability, it is of no surprise that some individuals avoid acquiring the RD label (Edwards, 1994; Cory, 2005). As the body shows no outwardly visible evidence of the person having this disability, an RD (as well as any LD) is considered to be an invisible or hidden disability. This allows a person with an RD to potentially pass as "normal," thereby avoiding the stigmas associated with the disability. However, passing as "normal" does come with some costs. Studies of success for people with LD have found that acceptance and recognition of one's disability is correlated highly with achievement (Spekman, Goldberg, & Herman, 1992; Gerber, Ginsberg, & Reiff, 1992). If hiding one's disability reflects not accepting its reality, then one's chances for future success could be limited. Furthermore, seeking out support and help from others requires disclosing about the disability to others. In studying the experiences of college students with invisible disabilities, Cory (2005), found that students with hidden disabilities are very strategic in choosing when and to whom they come out to in regards to their disability. Many, due to past negative experiences, will delay registering with disability services until a crisis necessitates it. Unfortunately, this is often affects the decision why students don't want to use the assistive technology even it supports their participation at the school.


As we have seen previously it can be very difficult for someone with reading disabilities to perform tasks the rest of us take for granted, and the emotion and frustration felt when unable to complete these tasks to their satisfaction can be overwhelming. Ingenious strategies and tricks for avoidance of these situations are normally exhibited from very early on in the child's development. Edwards, (1994) also touches on societies attitude to the condition during the 1970's when the educational system in the UK was not equipped to deal with dyslexics in higher education.

Investigation into Learning Support in Higher Education, Mills, (2005), shows that we are now much more aware of the problems faced, and the need to provide support throughout. Mills (2005) also suggests that opinion is changing, but it is only as recent as 1997 that the Government insisted on the inclusion of phonic teaching into the curriculum, and set up a Code of Practice for attainment levels. If these levels are not met, provision is set up for further testing. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Discrimination Act, which only came into effect on 1st September 2002 - states that discrimination against students with disabilities (including dyslexia) will be unlawful, and that they must provide additional support and services which would help prevent substantial disadvantage, e.g. installation of specialist software on computers for dyslexic or visually impaired students. However, this can only be enforced when the student has been formally diagnosed, and this, in itself seems to be separate hurdle. There is no support when the student is not official diagnosed as a Dyslexic and in this situation the student must find the founds to purchase any special equipment to support their disability. Bear in mind that the high school education life for many students is no surrounding by luxury so any extra cost might affect the normal budget for their academic activates


Compounded with the diversity of definitions for RDs, one would expect a diverse array of technologies specifically aimed at aiding and supporting the reading process. In the United Kingdom students with disabilities receive the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) (Hall, 1998) that is used to pay for equipment (including computer-systems, software, special-purpose hardware and other items such as specialist chairs, coloured overlays, wrist rests, etc.

A variety of computer-related hardware and software is supplied to students with dyslexia. I have identified the equipment that is specially provided to support reading disabilities and classify it in four areas:

5.1 General-purpose hardware.

A standard computer system (whether it be a desktop or laptop) is the basic equipment provided to students with dyslexia under the DSA it comes with copy of Microsoft Of¬ce (for Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh operating systems), plus input and output tools such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer etc.

Scanners are often provided to students with dyslexia and sometimes, they are supplied with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert the scanned image to text, often to be used in conjunction with text-to-speech software.

5.2 Special-purpose hardware.

The special-purpose hardware supplied to students with dyslexia is usually in the form of standalone electronic devices. Whilst some of the hardware discussed below is designed for and used by the general population, the specific use to which the devices are put and their high incidence of use by the population of dyslexic students.

Recording devices. Either minidisk or digital recorders used to record lectures and personal notes.

Scanning and reading pens. Scanning pens are . used to capture text and transfer it to a computer. Reading pens pronounce and define the word by speech.

5.3 General-purpose software.

Most students with dyslexia are provided with standard word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) and other standard packages (such as other applications within Microsoft Of¬ce).

5.4 Special-purpose software.

A variety of special purpose software is used by students with dyslexia.

Those most commonly used are: Text-to-speech systems. Such packages convert text held on a computer system to synthesised speech to assist in the reading and creation of documents. Such software is supplied with integrated talking dictionaries and some versions will support scanning and OCR. Examples of such software include TextHelp's Read and Write and Claro Software's ClaroRead.


The iPhone is a state of the art device that contains many different features and devices including camera phone, ipod technology, text messaging, visual voice-mail, e-mail, web browsing, and local Wi Fi connectivity. The iPhone is a major advancement to mobile phones to the multiple features that it contains. The iPhone has the capabilities of playing videos, tv shows and movies, and the availability to connect to the internet and access the World Wide Web. At this point in time the internet is not able to support java technology but in time it will be able to. Along with internet access on the phone there is also availability to access your e-mail. The e-mail technology of the phone is advanced in that it supports HTML e-mail. This is a great capability of the phone because this allows the user to be able to add photos, PDF, word, and excel attachments to the e-mail. Along with these features the iPhone also contains a camera but does not have a flash or autofocus on it.

Figura 1. iPhone 3GS Model. Source: http:// http://developer.apple.com

The two parts that make up the iPhone are the hardware and software aspects. The hardware of the iPhone is made up by the touch screen, audio speakers, battery, SIM card, and storage. The most intriguing part about the iPhone is the touch screen. The technology of the touch screen is very advanced and works in many different ways to make the device user friendly. The screen is made of a scratch resistant glass so the user can use it without worrying about scratching it. The touch screen works so that the user can easily maneuver his way through the different features of the phone and not get frustrated without having buttons for each different task that needs to be performed. Along with the hardware applications come the software applications which are the non tangible parts of the device. The software programs that come downloaded on the iPhone include text messaging, calendar, photos, camera, YouTube, stocks, maps, weather, clock, calculator, notes, settings, and iTunes. .



The choice of which method to employ is dependent upon the nature of the research problem, Morgan and Smircich (1989) argue that the actual suitability of a research method, derives from the nature of the social phenomena to be explored (Rose & Grosvenor, 2001).

There are basically two basic methodological traditions of research in social science, namely positivism and post positivism (phenomenology). Positivism is an approach to the creation of knowledge through research which emphasizes the model of natural science: the scientist adopts the position of objective researcher, who collects facts about the social world and then builds up an explanation of social life by arranging such facts in a chain of causality (Howley, 2001).

In contrast, post-positivism is about a reality which is socially constructed rather than objectively determined. Hence the task of social scientist should not be to gather facts and measure how often certain patterns occur, but to appreciate the different constructions and meanings that people place upon their experience (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Positivism, thus, which is based on the natural science model of dealing with facts, is more closely associated with quantitative method of analysis. On the other hand, post-positivism that deals with understanding the subjectivity of social phenomena, requires a qualitative approach.

In explaining qualitative research, Denzin and Lincoln (2003) state that, qualitative implies an emphasis on processes and meanings that are not rigorously examined, measured (if measured at all), in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. Thus, there are instances, particularly in the social sciences, where researchers are interested in insight, discovery, and interpretation rather than hypothesis testing (Roblyer & Schwier, 2003).

The design of the study was a strategy that adopted a predominantly qualitative approach (Creswell, 2002). Data were collected during observations and semistructured interviews with Dyslexic students. In the ¬rst phase of the analysis, interviews and observations were used to identify the number and the type of ATDs provided, and whether students wanted to use these devices or not. This phase provided background information for an examination of students' experiences of using iPhone in their academic environment.


I chose to perform a case study as it lends itself well to observing students with reading disabilities in their normal academic life and because of the desire to provide rich descriptive data and draw some insight from it. The study is intended to produce an understanding of the ways in which the participants interacted with the iPhone as an alternative AT. Case study research lends itself to this type of study that was done on a small scale with five participants in their natural setting.

Yin described case study as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (Rose & Grosvenor, 2001). Case study is therefore adopted to tackle the research questions asked in Chapter 1.


Collecting data for a case study can be performed observationally, but another method is the semi-structured interview (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998). In such an interview a set of prepared questions acts as a guide for the researcher. While the researcher will work to ensure that certain key questions are asked of every person interviewed, the semi-structured format also allows and encourages the researcher to interject with additional questions as appropriate. Importantly, however, the flow of the interview is meant to be primarily driven by the participant. The participant is asked to talk openly and freely about whatever he or she views as important and is thus encouraged to elaborate and even take the conversation in an unanticipated direction.

Observation generated insight and Semi-structured interviews have been used previously in several studies (Friedman et al., 2002; Friedman, Kahn, Hagman, et al., 2006; Miller et al., 2007), and Kahn (1999) also provides guidelines for using semi-structured interviews to probe value issues. More importantly, though, is that illustrative case studies and semi-structured interviews have been used successfully in previous disability research. This method was used by Edwards (1994) to study the educational experiences of recent secondary school graduates with dyslexia and by Cory (2005) to study college students with invisible disabilities. These methodologies have also been used to study the influence of disability on various psychological elements, including queer identity and sexuality (Whitney, 2006), identity development and sense of self in people with dyslexia (Pollak,2005), and reactions to dyslexia diagnosis and labeling (Riddick, 2000). My study on the experiences of students with reading disabilities over the Iphone (Deibel, 2007b, 2008, in press) used these approach, and its set of interview questions were partially derived from the studies by Edwards (1994), Cory (2005), and Whitney (2006).

As well as interviewing and observation, the fieldwork included analysis of documentary sources especially online resources such as blogs, forum threads and institutional websites of various universities and dyslexia support that were available for the purpose of the research. This was important to supplement as well as to compensate for the limitations of other methods.

Documentary evidence as a method to cross validate information gathered from interview and observation given that sometimes what people say maybe different from what people do. Additionally, documents provide guidelines in assisting the researcher with his inquiry during interview.


I wrote some post in online blogs inviting participants to take part in my study. I got 5 responses indicating interest in taking part in the study. In the invitation I asked for people with a combination of reading disabilities associated to dyslexia that had some background using basic commands over the iPhone. Upon expressing interest in participating in the study, the participant was first screened (via phone or e-mail) in order to meet the following criteria for inclusion in the study:

• The participant was at least 18 years of age.

• The participant had been diagnosed as having Dyslexia sometime in the past. Participants did not have to provide evidence of this diagnosis but had to be capable of talking about how the diagnosis was made. People who self-diagnosed themselves as being dyslexic or having a learning disability were turned down for participation.

• The participant did not have a severe visual impairment. This criteria helped ensure that any difficulties experienced with reading were due to the reading disability and not a vision problem.


The starting point for data analysis is to the ATDs they use, and students' preferences (i.e., whether they wanted to use the ATD provided or not). The de¬nition of use in this study is "the devices being used at this moment in time" (Wessels et al., 2003, p. 232). Then the analysis searched for patterns concerning types of ATDs students had received in high school and which devices they claimed they did or did not want to use.

Phase 2: Students' Experiences of iPhone as Assistive Device. In the second phase of the analysis, students' experiences of using iPhone in a academic environment was explored. Here, all accumulated data from students' interviews and observations were used.

Participants will view firstly demonstrations how iPhone applications can be utilized as assistive technology. The demonstrations will include a brief overview of features and show how the applications can be used. After it the researcher will allow the student to interact with the iPhone features and a number of different applications. The applications recommended have been choosen by me who through a documentary review determined which ones might meet the needs of the Dyslexic students specially their reading disabilities .

The primary focus of this coding procedure was students' perceptions of iPhone and their experiences of using it, ¬eld work notes and interviews were analyzed separately for each student.

Once data collection was complete, No computer analysis was used. My goal was to transform my large data set into a coherent and cohesive story that captured the students' emotions, and experiences with the iPhone.


Yin (1994) is of the opinion that the four quality tests used in empirical social research are equally relevant to case study research. These are:

• Construct validity; establishing correct operational measures for the concepts being studied

• Internal validity (for explanatory or causal case studies only); establishing causal relationships to show that certain conditions lead to other conditions

• External validity; establishing the domain to which a study's findings can be generalized.

• Reliability; showing that the operations, such as data collection procedures, can be repeated

Yin (1994:33) constructed the following table (Table 1) to demonstrate how the case study researcher can employ certain tactics to ensure consistent quality in the research design.

Table 1: Case Study Tactics for Research Design Tests

Quality Test

Case Study Tactic

Research phase used to employ tactic

Construct validity

• Use multiple sources of evidence

• Establish chain of evidence

• Have key informants review draft case study report

Data collection

Internal validity

• Do pattern matching

• Do explanation building

• Do time-series analysis

Data collection

External validity

• Use replication logic in multiple-case studies

Research design


• Use case study protocol

• Develop case study data base

Data collection

(Source: Cosmos Corporation cited in Yin, 1994, p.33)

With the exception of internal validity as a quality measure (relevant for explanatory case study research), the researcher feels confident that the results meet the quality tests proposed above. Having used multiple sources, a sufficient chain of evidence was established. Collective case study allow to the researcher to examine process and outcome across many cases to develop a deeper understanding. All evidence collected during the course of the research is available in electronic format.

Parts of the draft report were also discussed with some of the participant.