Making Learning Possible with Ed Tech Tools

Technology has undeniably changed the way we do things and many tools once referred to as Assistive Technology like voice typing has now been adopted by the masses to improve performance in any setting.  

Within education, there is a move to adopt more inclusive language that represents the technology tools that are now readily available for any user that may want to adopt them so that they can do things more effectively and/or efficiently. These Educational Technologies (Ed Tech) are flexible and meet the needs of diverse users instead of a specific population. For users with dyslexia, Ed Tech tools are providing opportunities for them to work around challenges, play to their strengths and reach their full potential.

“For most of us, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, it makes things possible.”

Edyburn, Higgins & Boone, 2005

What Educational Tech Can and Can’t Do

  • They do not cure or eliminate dyslexia or other learning challenges.
  • They do not substitute good teaching or best practice interventions like multisensory structured language programmes.
  • They are not something ‘special’ just for individuals with learning differences.
  • They do not provide the user with an unfair advantage.
  • They can however assist those individuals with learning challenges to reach their potential by enabling them to be able to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult.

Choosing a Device

Choosing a device and Ed Tech tools that meet the needs of an individual can be overwhelming. Follow these steps to help make a more informed choice:

  1. Start the process by finding out what operating system your school, polytechnic or university is using. This could be Office 365, Google, or Apple Apps.  
  2. Work out what you can afford to spend.
  3. Know that a device is only part of the cost, allow for extras like an external mouse, noise-cancelling headset and some Ed Tech tools to make the device more functional.
  4. Budget for device upgrades about every 3 years and ongoing costs for Ed Tech tools that may be needed.


Let us consider the basic categories of Ed Tech tools that could support an individual with dyslexia and ease the demands of reading, comprehension, idea generation, spelling, writing and organisation.

There are various options that can be found integrated into accessibility features on device operating systems. There are also web based and downloadable options that are free or subscription based. Some offer many functions whilst others provide support in just one or two.

  • Text to Speech – converts printed text into spoken words using realistic synthesised voices. This is built into most device operating systems and eBook readers. In addition, there are also a range of web based software, Apps and extensions that also provide this support.
  • Speech Recognition – is also referred to as Speech to Text or Dictation. Again there are a variety of options available. These tools work best for individuals with clear speech. 
  • Word Prediction – provides spelling support to individuals when typing. This technology anticipates and predicts the words after only a few characters are typed. Word prediction is an effective tool when speech recognition is not an option.
  • Voice Notes – records the user’s voice so that individuals can share information and/or, knowledge without text. 
  • Note Taking – records class lessons, lectures, or meetings so that this information can be played back and listened to over and over again.  Some tools can even provide a text transcription.  
  • Research Tools – can simplify text that needs to be used by an individual, provide language support, highlighting relevant information, and collate that information into a format that can be easily used.
  • Ear Reading – audiobooks feature recorded human narration. They are available through a variety of services. Some can be obtained free of charge; others need to be purchased. For individuals with dyslexia, there is a discrepancy between reading level and oral language skills. By listening to audiobooks, they are able to continue to develop their vocabularies by accessing content that their reading skills do not permit.  Furthermore, they are able to participate and enjoy an experience that would otherwise be stressful.

It Takes Time

Using a device for learning is different to using a device for entertainment. For individuals with dyslexia provide training and opportunities to practice using the device and any Ed Tech tools so that they can become confident and independent users. Adopt Ed Tech tools that will grow with the skill development.

Ministry of Education (MOE)

Funded assistance for devices and Assistive Technology (this terminology is still used by the MOE) is available through the Ministry of Education. The application process is not simple and it can take a significant amount of time and effort by those making an application. If an application is being made for a child/youth be aware that the device and any other components (i.e. headset) remain the property of the MOE. Some schools will allow the device to be taken home for home learning, but others will not. Also, understand that an annual subscription for an Ed Tech tool may be paid for by the MOE in the year of application but not in subsequent years. Furthermore, sometimes the tools provided do not best meet the needs of the recipients. And, because the device belongs to the MOE individuals/families are not permitted to add other tools.  

For information watch the video below:


Information supplied by Kate Spragg, Educational Technologies Consultant

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This document was created by Kate Spragg December 2021