icon for speech-to-text apps

Assistive Technology: What's Out There for Dyslexic Students?

Digital Tools for voice-to-text, text-to-voice, grammar, organization and note-taking

As much as we wish to make it disappear, most students with dyslexia will live with its effects throughout their lives. Tutoring can help them tremendously, but realistically speaking, not to the point where they'll read as fast as their peers in high school and college, when the reading assignments stack up.

I've put together a list of popular digital tools that help level the playing field for our learners. Some are text to voice, to make the written word more accessible, some are voice to text, to help get ideas down without the hindrance of spelling or physical writing, others help with planning, note-taking and organization.


Voice Dream Reader

Voice Dream Reader is the best app for text-to-speech. You can highlight, take notes, and sync with Google Drive, Safari, Email, DropBox, and other reading services.

You can change the fonts, colors, and line spacing, making small text far less intimidating for people with dyslexia. You can also use Voice Dream Reader to scan text into the app and read it aloud. There are 61 free voices to choose from in the app.

You may be able to get the school to buy the app for you, or you can access a paid subscription with the choice of in-app purchases.

Learning Ally

What began as Recording for the Blind to help blinded soldiers after World War II is now a comprehensive library of more than 80,000 audiobooks designed for anyone with learning differences or visual impairments. A human voice reads the text, which some kids find easier to listen to than a computer-generated one.

Ask your school’s special education coordinator to provide you with a free membership. If your school doesn’t offer one, you can buy the service for $11.25/month.


Bookshare is a government-funded program that provides free access to electronic or ebook text and digital texts to people and students with disabilities. It’s free for anyone K through 12 in the United States, and Bookshare's membership pricing is based upon the World Bank designation of countries as being high-income ($79.99/yr), middle income ($30/yr)or lower-income (free).

Because Bookshare operates under a copyright exemption, you have to show a Proof of Disability (POD) form or documentation from the school.

Bookshare is only digital text, so you’ll have to use a text-to-speech tool to read the text out loud. Bookshare links to several reading tools, including Dolphin Easy Reader, Speech Central, Capti Voice, and Voice Dream Reader.


Speechify also deserves an honorable mention. It’s a well-designed app for students and adults alike, and it’s free with in-app purchases. You can scan a book, import a PDF, download from Google Drive, and sync across all your devices.

Apple or Android Device Settings

There are great options at arm's length. Check the settings on your Apple or Android device. By default, the text to speech option is turned off.

For Apple devices, go to Settings, select Accessibility, then Spoken Content to turn text to speech on.

For Android, go to Settings, select Accessibility, then text-to-speech output.

Writing, Grammar, and Spelling

Spelling, grammar, vocabulary and expression take extra concentrated effort for students with dyslexia. Thankfully, dictation tools that are built right into our devices - think cell phone, ipad, Google Docs - are tremendously useful. These programs help with word prediction, spelling correction, and grammatical formatting, which are especially advantageous in class or other social situations when a student either can't or doesn't want to use speech to text tools.

Support my mission by buying me a coffee: ko-fi.com/bramnaus :)

Photo by Bram Naus / Unsplash


Co:Writer comes up regularly as the best writing tool for people with dyslexia and others who struggle with handwriting or the expression of thought.

Students can build libraries of words based on topics they’re writing about, or select from ones already available. For instance, you can select the Harry Potter library, and when you start typing H-o-g, Hogwarts will come up. The app also does a great job of recognizing phonetic misspelling, like blk for black or lfnt for elephant.

At $80 per license/yr for students, parents, or educators, the price tag is reasonable. School districts can also buy a license for a large number of students and may be able to offer it free while your child is in school. Once you install the app or extension, it automatically syncs with Gmail, Google Docs, and many more.

Read & Write for Google Chrome

I’ve had a chance to see how Read & Write for Google Chrome works in action. The extension uses tools like screen mask (only the line being read is visible), simplify (summarizing complex language), and talk and type for a speech to text option.

The basic extension is free, but the premium version includes support for Google Docs, specifically, multi-highlighting options for active reading, extracting highlights, a vocabulary chart, a regular and picture dictionary, and word prediction. According to Google, the premium version is free for teachers to explore and costs $99 for a yearly subscription for student accounts.


Grammarly is a little more than most kids need, and it’s aimed at ages 13 and up, so keep that in mind. It’s a cloud-based program that integrates with Google Docs and has a plug-in for Microsoft Word. Grammarly considers the context surrounding a word and can suggest changing something like your to you’re when necessary, which is a great feature for dyslexic writers.

The app also makes suggestions to re-phrase wordy sentences and add transitional phrases that can improve your writing. However, the full range of features isn’t available on the free version. You’ll have to upgrade to premium for $30/month or $144/year.

Notetaking and Organization


Sometimes organizing thoughts is a tremendous challenge for students who live with dyslexia and dysgraphia. MindMeister is a mind mapping tool that can help students with dyslexia organize their thoughts visually, to aid in brainstorming, note-taking, and studying. The tool includes project planning and meeting management for collaborations. Basic accounts are free. Personal accounts are $6.50/mo per user and Pro accounts are $10.50 per user/mo.


Evernote is a note-taking app that allows students to capture ideas, organize notes, and sync across devices. Its simplicity and versatility make it useful for students with dyslexia to manage their academic materials and plan projects.

There is no better time to be dyslexic.

Thank goodness it’s over!

Photo by Juan Ramos / Unsplash

This is a fact I've shared with many a worried prospective parent. We're no longer living in the dark when it comes to understanding dyslexia as a learning difference, rather than a reflection of low intelligence or lack of motivation. In fact, many of dyslexic students have above average intelligence. With text to voice technology, they no longer need another person to read great literature or scientific research to them. There's no need for another person to transcribe their ideas, proofread, or edit for them, and note-taking is no longer an obstacle. With tech tools like these, our dyslexic and dysgraphic students are free to organize, form and craft their ideas with unfettered access to the power of language.

If your dyslexic student is not yet reading in need of instruction, reach out to us at www.mindguidelearning.com and we'll get them started!