How Technology Could Have Been a Life Changer For My Dyslexia
As a child I dreamed of standing tall at the front of the class taking my turn reading to my classmates. I not only wanted to sound smart, I wanted to be that kid who read fast and scored 100% on my spelling tests. Because I was a struggling reader, that simple dream never became a reality. The few times I voluntarily read in front of class ended in a disaster. My long pauses in between the words always drew a few laughs and pathetic looks from other students. If the class was given an in-class reading assignment, I would always be the last student to finish, which gave the students something else to laugh about.
Eventually the laughter got to me and I convinced myself that I wasn’t smart. Thinking this way damaged my self-esteem and eventually I saw no point in trying. By the time I was in 3rd grade I would do anything to keep from reading out loud. I would act out during class so I would be sent out into the hallway to avoid having to read in class and potentially be made fun of. To make matters worse, every morning I walked to school with the troubles of my home life weighing heavily on me. My home environment was not encouraging and to be honest, it was full of drugs and violence.
At the age of 8 I was removed from my home and placed into foster care. When I entered middle school, I spent a tremendous amount of time with a reading specialist and no matter how hard I tried, nothing helped. By the time I made it to high school, I was labeled with a learning disability, and I felt completely defeated. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I found out that I was dyslexic! When I found out, my first response was, “You mean I am not dumb?” When I went to college I visited the writing labs, tried utilizing the disability services to help me get through, but again, nothing helped so I pushed through dealing with one frustration after another. Dealing with dyslexia in college was difficult and I spent a lot of time re-reading simple assignments. Trying to read and study in rooms with a lot of noise was distracting, so I searched for empty rooms on campus to be able to better focus on my studies. One person who went out of her way to help me be successful was Martha McMillian, the Director of University Academic Services at Oklahoma State University. Martha extended an invitation to use her office any time I wanted, which allowed me to study in an environment that better enabled me to focus on completing assignments.
I have since graduated from college and become a published author and motivational speaker. A few months ago, I was introduced to eDynamic Learning’s curriculum and at first glance I was more than impressed with the hundreds of course options for students. The subjects are extremely relevant and designed in a way to draw students in. Once I got inside the program it was really easy to navigate. But what impressed me most was the Literacy Support Tool Bar, for me this feature is a LIFE CHANGER. The Literacy Support Tool Bar provides access to a dictionary tool and highlighters that can place selected items in chronological order for note-taking and studying. If that isn’t enough, with one click I had access to audio that could be read to me and offered language translations. The Screen Masking feature allowed me to focus on what I am trying to read and helped me track the text from left to right. With the click of my mouse, I had access to 10 features that enhanced my ability to understand.
Every one of these features increased my ability to focus on the text and process the information. Amazingly enough, this tool almost eliminated reading confusion for me with these incredible features. My whole life I have dreamed of having something like this that would help me read. These modules are absolutely second to none and allowed me to read without difficulty.
I am excited about the technology tools that are available today for students and I hope to see them integrated into more classrooms now and in the future. Research is showing that students with dyslexia are significantly more on task when using a text-to-speech tool compared to a self-paced reading condition. No matter what ability or disability a student might have, technology tools like these can have a big impact on learning and can provide equitable solutions for all students to learn.
I am proud to support Dyslexia Awareness Month in October and help others like me realize they simply have a condition that requires them to learn in a different way. I get excited to meet young people during my school presentations who come forward and share that they too have dyslexia, and that they are no longer embarrassed to admit it after hearing I had it as well. I always tell them, “Don’t allow others to place a label on you or limits on what you can do. Anything is possible.”
About the Author
Alton Carter is the author of five books, most notably, The Boy Who Carried Bricks, which won the 2016 Oklahoma Book Award. As a child who lived in countless foster homes, Alton Carter regularly presents at schools to middle and high school students and shares his story to inspire them to think big, find their passion, and believe that all things are possible.
Author of the Following Books:
- The Boy Who Carried Bricks
- Aging Out
- The Boy Who Dreamed Big
- The Boy Who Went to the Library
- The Boy Who Survived: A True Story of Hope and Resilience