Stories

rssfollow us in feedly

We don’t build fighter plane cockpits for the average pilot. Why do we build schools this way?

High school dropout turned Harvard faculty Todd Rose talks about how to nurture individual potential.

Watch here or visit Tedx.

Brett Kopf is the CEO and co-founder of Remind 101, a communications solution for teachers, students, and parents. He shares his journey with The Next Web on becoming a successful dyslexic entrepreneur below. If you've got 4 minutes, it's definitely worth a listen.

Read the printed article here.

Having a learning difference impacts family relationships. Watch Headstrong Nation fellow Sarah Entine explore how undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD impacted three generations in her family, starting with her own struggles, in her award-winning film Read Me Differently.

With surprising candor, vulnerability and even a touch of humor, Read Me Differently reveals the strain of misunderstood learning differences on family relationships. It is a unique film that will generate thoughtful discussion whether in a classroom setting, work environment or at home with family members and friends.

Watch the trailer here:

Besides being an incredibly inspiring and moving journey, the film has a lot of practicaly applications. Sarah Entine invites parents to use the film "to faciliate discussion on how learning disabilities influence family relationships... Counselors, both school-based and those in private practice, can use the film to promote awareness and healing, and universities can use the film in psychology, social work, education, special education, counseling, and guidance curricula."

Read Me Differently was selected for the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award in 2010 (past winners include Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns, Spike Lee, and Martin Scorsese). In the same year, Simmons School of Social Work awarded Sarah with an Alumni Special Recognition Award. In 2011, Read Me Differently was chosen to screen at the Superfest International Disability Film Festival where the film received an Achievement Award. 

We are proud to support Sarah in her efforts to share her story with others, and to help dyslexic and LD families learn to thrive together. 

Dyslexia Empowerment Group

Want to be a part of the movement?

Headstrong Nation is launching its first Dyslexia Empowerment Group this January 2014 in Lewisville, Texas.

(Don't live nearby? Stay tuned. More groups will be added in the future!)

Learn more

Dyslexia apps

Nice round-up of apps from NCLD for dyslexics and others with reading difficulties:

Reading is the area in which students with dyslexia struggle the most. Fortunately, there are many mobile apps that can help. While we’ve reviewed all of the following ones, and they work well for my daughter who has dyslexia, we also know that “one size (or app) does not fit all.” You may need to do additional research before finding the app that provides the best “fit” for your child. 

See the list...

In a recent Wall Street Journal "Ask Ariely" column, a woman named Paula wrote in and asked: do audiobooks count as “real” books? Why am I embarrassed to say that I listened to the book, and what can I do about it?

Dan Ariely’s response was on the right track—you can read it here— but we’d like to go a step further.  

There are, in fact, three types of reading: eye-reading, ear-reading, and finger-reading.  

Blind people read with their fingers, much of the mainstream reads with their eyes. We dyslexics often read with our ears. Privileging eye-reading above these other modes excludes not a small number of people from accessing information from texts and from enjoying the fruits of a good author. 

How big is our community? Conservative studies estimate that dyslexics comprise over 10% of people in the US. It also turns out we are 35% of entrepreneurs and 41% of prisoners (many of who are entrepreneurs in the wrong business!). 

One commenter on the blog got this, pardon the dyslexic pun, backwards:

“Let me be brief: books are created to be read the same way plays (and movies) are created to be watched, and music is created to be listen to. There is not a way around it and trying to take a shortcut... deprives her of real pleasures of reading.” —Elizabeth P.

 This view is likely held by many mainstream readers but it is narrow and, truly, antiquated. Before the availability of the printed word, people trained themselves to remember great amounts of information by listening and storytelling. Recounting Socrates' dialogue with Phaedrus about the rise of the written word, Plato wrote:   

"[F]or this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth." 

 By the above commenter's standards, Socrates was illiterate.  

The inclusion and acceptance of ear-reading, eye-reading, and finger-reading as valid pathways to learning, foreign as they may sound, are key to leveling the playing field for our many unique minds.

If you are a dyslexic who has identified ear reading as your optimal path, this may be old news. You may be like Headstrong Nation’s founder, Ben Foss, who completed both a law and a business degree at Stanford and recently wrote a book about how to become an empowered dyslexic. He accomplished all of this by reading with his ears, and using books on tape and talking computers.

Ben explains his philosophy on reading in his Random House book, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blue Print to Renew Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning:

A child with dyslexia will never eye-read as well as his peers, and that, I hope to reassure you, is fine. Yet all children need to be exposed to vocabulary and ideas to be successful in school. If your child was blind, providing text as audiobooks or Braille would allow her to read with her ears or with her fingers. No one would ever claim that a blind person was lazy or stupid for not reading text with her eyes. When I listen to audio, that’s ear reading. When I speed it up to four hundred words a minute, four times the pace of standard speech... I am leveling the playing field for me.* It’s not what the mainstream conceives of as reading. But it’s ear reading. It’s learning. It’s literacy.

 *This needs to be heard to be understood. Check out a demo of super-fast speech below or visit our Tools page for more videos about text to speech and speech to text:


 

It will take time before people internalize this three-pronged definition of reading. Luckily there were other commenters on the WSJ, who are helping to pave the way:

“I read books - preferably Kindle books, but on paper when necessary. I listen to audio lectures. I watch (and listen) to video lectures and on-line training courses. The point is the information; not the medium. If Marshall McLuhan meant the obvious by “The Medium Is the Message" then I think he got it wrong. The pipe is not the water; the wire is not the electricity. This whole subject strikes me as a bit pretentious, like focusing on the make of car you drove to get to a destination instead of the worthiness of the destination.” —Terrence W.

Thanks for listening, Terrence.

 

Photo credit: Luci Gutiérrez

Dyslexic Advantage

Close up of exhibition

Congratulations to Madalyne Marie Hymas, an innovative dyslexic artist who won an Award of Excellence for her entry in this year's National Juried Exhibition for Emerging Artists with Disabilities, Ages 16-25. Madalyne's bold exploration into what it means to be dyslexic can be seen at the Smithsonian Institution's S. Dillon Ripley Center through January 5th, 2014

Stop bullying of dyslexic kids

Experts in dyslexia have for many years focused on teaching children to read in the conventional way. But there are hidden costs to this more-of-the-same approach that impact many children who have a hard time in a mainstream classroom: self-harm, such as cutting or anorexia, and bullying. 

There are different types of reading: eye reading, ear reading and finger reading. Blind people read with their fingers; mainstream people read with their eyes. In my case, I use my ears, as shown in this demonstration of using speech built into a standard iPad from Headstrong Nation, a national organization for dyslexic people.

It’s very important for all children to get a fair chance at learning to read with their eyes. However, focusing on eye reading in perpetuity can create painful shame. The shame comes from being told that part of you is unworthy—the part that does not read with one's eyes. 

Read the rest of Headstrong Founder Ben Foss's most recent post for the NCLD here...

Pomona College student in Cognitive Sciences, Melissa was named America's Top Young Scientist by Discovery 3M, in addition to receiving the Smart Kids with LD Youth Achievement Award and Buick Achievers Scholarship ($25,000 per year for college). Melissa also designed and co-organized Summer Science Camp for Girls which is now in its 3rd year.

Assistive Technology blogger Brian

I'm dyslexic and a senior in high school. I've used assistive technology for many years to help me read and write. In third grade I started use the Alpha Smart computer to help me with writing. As I got older I started using Kurzweil 3000, Bookshare, and Learning Ally to help me with reading. In middle and high school the technology became increasingly important and allowed me to participate in interesting classes. Now in school I read all of my books with Bookshare and I use Kurzweil to read handouts. I'm definitely an ear reader.

A few years ago I started an assistive technology blog: bdmtech.blogspot.com. I write about a variety of technologies, but focus on technology that is useful for dyslexics. My first blog posts was about the Intel Reader.* I was very excited about winning it in a contest and it got me started on blogging. I thought it was really cool. I got it just before final exams and I used it to study. The Intel Reader was so helpful because some of the hand-outs and study material I had were only in hard copy. I decided that I  wanted to let other people know about it, so that people who couldn't read would know there were solutions. Because technology is so helpful to me and so few people seemed to know what is available I wanted to share all the things that I found to help spread the word. —Brian Meersma

 
Brian got in touch with us a few weeks ago and we wanted to share his story here as a young dyslexic who has found the right technoglogies to empower him in school and in life. Brian lives in New Jersey and has been a passionate advocate for using assistive technologies and empowering dyslexics and the LD community. You can subscribe to Brians' blog here and follow him on Twitter here: twitter.com/bdmtech
 
*Many people have written to us about purchasing an Intel Reader and we want to make sure the right information gets out there. There are few retailers currently selling the Intel Reader at present and it appears that it is reaching the end of its 4 year run on the market. Please visit our Workplace Accommodations page and look at "Expanding your tech toolkit" and our Classroom Accommodations page ("Taking Notes the Easy Way") for alternatives.

Pages