Using iPhones as assistive technology to improve reading

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1 Introduction

Between 4% and 7% of the population are affected by some form of dyslexia (Mortimore, T,2006,), which impacts on everyday and academic activities in various ways. This paper outlines the current technological landscape of tools for dyslexic students, an considers where future work might be focused

As an overarching goal, my particular research focus is on accessible technology for supporting students at high education with reading disabilities. Not only do I want reading performance to improve, I want the technology to meet usability standards and be as adoptable for use as possible.

For the last months, 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 that are unexplored or lacking in clarity. In particular, I have identified a major lack in support technology for older students (high school, college, etc.) with dyslexia.

Today, with the use of a computer, They can listen to digitally formatted text, which I find a very efficient way of gathering information. In fact, with some software they can control the speed of the text. Today, technology is moving at a rapid pace and new technology specifically smarts phones are able to do the same thing.

iPhone is a powerful device that can read emails out loud and use voice recognition software to spell for learning problem students. Iphone has been created by Apple who for more than 25 year has been dedicated to developing features that engage all students, enhance their studies, and inspire them to achieve their best regardless of physical or learning disability. iPhone come packed with assistive technologies, so students everywhere can compensate for learning differences using today's resources and tools.

The remainder of this paper consists of two parts. The next section gives an overview of dyslexia and the assistive technologies commonly in use today.. The following sections then I will propose a research agenda for my thesis that addresses how the using Iphone can be use as a new tool for assistive technology to improve the reading performance for high education students with dyslexia.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Dyslexia in Brief

There are numerous definitions for dyslexia and a few have been listed below:

National Working Party (Singleton,1995) 'Dyslexia is a complex neurological condition that occurs in approximately 4% of the population, and which primarily affects acquisition and use of written language, memory and organisational skills. It is a legally recognised disability, and there is strong evidence that supports a genetic causation of the condition.'

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". The definition goes on to give "accompanying weaknesses", including short-term memory, spoken language and motor skills.

British Psychological Association (1999) Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty.

Despite the non-specific nature of dyslexia definition, common traits have been identified among individuals with dyslexia. The severity and exact form of these traits differ across individuals, however. Fundamentally, there is no typical case of dyslexia; all are different except for one thing: the phonological processing deficit (Sandak et al, 2004).

Phonological processing is the process by which a reader transforms the visual form of a word into its component sounds. Development of this skill is a key step in learning to read (Ehri, 1997) as it plays a pivotal role in word identification (Perfetti et al 1992).

People with dyslexia, however, experience significant difficulties with phonological processing (Nation, 2005). As word identification performance is hindered, higher-level reading processes like comprehension are also affected. Interestingly and importantly, this underperformance is not due to poor intelligence or weak vocabularies. On the contrary, individuals with dyslexia have normal to high intelligence and often possess strong vocabulary skills (Peer, 2001). Instead, as brain imaging studies have shown, dyslexic readers are neurologically different from normal readers. During word identification, the activation in a dyslexic brain is less distributed and thereby less efficient than that of a neurotypical brain (Sandaket al., 2004).

Finally, one should not just focus on the negative traits associated with dyslexia. Many positive abilities are also associated with dyslexia (Cottrell, 2003). To begin, dyslexia is not associated with low intelligence. By its deffinition, people with dyslexia have normal or higher intelligences as compared to the general population.

2.2 Dyslexia and Accessible Technology

The number of home based UK students with dyslexia entering Higher Education increased from1,930 in 1994 to 4,964 in 1999 (UCAS statistics) and recent government initiatives in widening participation are broadening the spectrum of students entering Higher Education. The number of students with study skills deficits and literacy difficulties is likely to continue to increase as will the number of dyslexic students. The survey of the National Working Party on Dyslexia in Higher Education (Singleton, 1995) found that 57 percent of students with dyslexia are already known to be dyslexic on entry.

Fundamentally, the motivation for developing accessible technology for people with dyslexia is the overwhelming role that reading plays in life. In particular, the critical importance of reading in high education is without debate. For students with dyslexia and other learning disorders, the reading load of college can become overwhelming.

Ninety percent of individuals with learning disorders experience troubles with reading, with dyslexia being by far the most common form of reading disability (Kavale & Reese, 2002)

To understand the needs of individuals with dyslexia, this section describes both the characteristics and existing accessible technologies for dyslexia.

Accessible Technology

These students benefit from programs designed to provide support. Schools 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. However, deficits in skills of phonological processing persist in adults and indicate a need for making accommodations in learning situations (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.

Younger 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.

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

Digital media 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. Hearing-impaired students can use sign language to communicate over video. And blind and low-vision students can take advantage of the world's first gesture-based screen reader built into iPhone 3GS. 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 iChat 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, teachers can use GarageBand to create 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.

3. Aim and Objectives

3.1 Aim

The Aim with this proposal is utilize the Iphone as assistive technology to improve the reading performance for high education students with dyslexia, to create self-sufficiency and independence in their academic involvement.

3.2 Objectives

1. To Identify the challenges present 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.

4. Statement of Purpose

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. A mobile phone is relatively cheap compared to special-purpose software and computers.

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. It would be a very good challenge for educators capitalize on the pervasive use of phones by students for educational purposes.

An important requirement for a successful piece of accessible technology for dyslexic is that the user must actually want to use it. Iphone delivers a variety of innovative features that make it more accessible to those students with learning problems, Dyslexics Students might take advantage of IPhone functions to use the same applications everybody else does.

it raises an interesting question: Could the Iphone be used as a new tool of assistive technology to help people to improve the reading performance associate to dyslexia at high school education?

4.1 Research Approach and Design

The research approach for this study will be quasi-experimental, a number of students identified as dyslexic were provided with an iPhone upload with some applications developed for improving the reading problems in order to evaluate its usefulness.

The students chosen will respond to a specially prepared questionnaire which is designed to evaluate the apparent usefulness of the hardware and software provided, and what further support they feel they would need.

4.1.1 Research Setting

The research setting is the London Dyslexic community doing any kind of studies at high education. The equipment and software needed to provide the assistive technology has been supplied by myself. I will meet students during the next month and I will share the experiences using the iPhone and the software pre-loaded during one normal day at their academic institutions.

4.1.2 Participants and Sampling

There will be 13 to 15 students enrolled in the classes at different high education institutions and they typically study during the day. Some of the students are recent high school graduates, while some are older students. Due to the size of the sample, it will be difficult to make generalizations about the results. As a result this study will be considered a pilot study designed to draw conclusions about the potential effect of using iPhone as new tool of assistive technology.

4.2 Data analysis

The study adopted qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. These included a preliminary analysis of statistical data held on focus group interviews.

I have designed multiple option and yes or no questions in questionnaire sections from the following: experience with iPhone, general access and use of the application, service provision, issues regarding the use, policy considerations, and additional comments will be our base. Also There were several functions of the iPhone that I see as exciting opportunities for the qualitative researcher. For example, in its most simple form, the device allowed for reflective note taking anytime, anywhere; participants could potentially take a little time out of a daily routine to create a few reminders of what they were experiencing (the researched phenomenon). They could then add to this if they wished at a later time or on a larger keyboard if they synchronized the device with a home or university PC.

In particular, we will evaluate if the iPhone and the apps uploaded can work with the same results of usefulness and comfortability that hardware and software developed specifically for dyslexic students do.

4.3 Limitations of the study

The methodology of the study incorporated ethical considerations, particularly confidentiality of respondents.

A study like this could bring us to be concerned with very important issues. Such as treating persons with respect and preventing persons to lose confidence, suffer emotional breakdown during these period of research study due to unexpected occurrence. The nature of such research project does provide the potential for and harm. As researchers we are morally bound to obtain informed consent, conduct research in a manner that minimizes potential harm to those involved in the study, and maintain participants' privacy.

Another of the limitations is that the majority of the apps that we are going to try on the Iphone are basically free even there are some recommendations of another ones that generate a cost for the users, the design the quality and the prices for every single app respect to the developer group that have created them. Could be some substantial differents between free apps and pay for use apps quality and development.

All the apps are subject to itunes store and apple regalement for commercialization and use.