Time & Tools

By law, dyslexic individuals are entitled to accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (Click here for more information on each law.) Accommodations are not meant to give dyslexic students a leg up on their classmates, but rather to level the playing field. Contrary to the popular myth that extra test time would help all students, the evidence clearly indicates that only those with dyslexia benefit significantly from additional time.With the proper accommodations, dyslexic students can thrive at the most rigorous schools, colleges, graduate programs and professional schools.

Accommodations can be low tech or high tech—or no tech at all. Indeed, the most critical accommodation for a dyslexic reader is simply allowing extra time to take a test or complete an assignment. As Dr. Sally Shaywitz has emphasized many times and written in her book Overcoming Dyslexia (p. 438): “Dyslexia robs a person of time; accommodations return it.”

Additional time to complete school work and take tests can have a huge impact on a dyslexic student’s ability to demonstrate knowledge and succeed in school. A student should start by requesting double time, then adjust with experience. Another helpful accommodation is to request a lighter course load and to avoid taking too many courses at the same time with large volumes of reading.

Assistive Technology


The Livescribe Smartpen can eliminate the stress of note-taking in class because it captures everything the student hears and writes. And since the user can transfer notes and recordings to a computer, a student can easily search and organize notes for homework study. The audio recording can be slowed down or speeded up as needed, and a specific section of any recording can be played back simply by tapping that part of one’s written notes.


One example is Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which can be helpful to dyslexic children in a number of ways, including orally committing ideas to paper, dictating answers to homework and writing essays. Other programs include ViaVoice and iListen.


An example is Read & Write Gold, an assistive-technology software program developed to improve learning for students with dyslexia. In addition to offering reading aloud of digitized text, other features include picture dictionaries, a thesaurus and word prediction. Other examples of text-to-speech programs include Home Page Reader and eReader. Digitized libraries such as Bookshare and Learning Ally also offer their own text-to-speech software.

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