Dyslexia & Dysgraphia
Universal Design for Learning
Learning is For Life
(and more doors opened for students with learning disabilities!)
Let’s start with a word problem:
3-6% of elementary schoolers have dyscalculia, a math-related learning disability.
5-20% of learners have dyslexia, a reading-related learning disability.
With ~53 million K-12 learners in the US and a ~40% co-occurrence of the two learning disabilities (meaning that 40% of people with dyslexia also have dyscalculia and vice versa) how many learners is Snap&Read missing because it can’t read math in Google Docs and learning management systems?
Answer: my brain hurts, but NONE.
Read on to see why (hint: it’s the result of the first of many collaborations between Don Johnston Inc. and Texthelp)
Which is a new thing, thanks to Don Johnston joining forces with Texthelp—bringing more shared innovation to students.
According to Kevin Johnston, VP Engineering North America at Don Johnston Inc., one of the wonderful aspects of partnering with Texthelp is the company’s math focus. It was a missing piece for Don Johnston’s Snap&Read: the program could previously read accessible math problems on specialized websites, but not when educators created accessible math equations and posted them to Google Docs or their LMS.
That’s changed now, because Don Johnston and Texthelp are working as one, and sharing technology made it possible.
Word problems, math problems, math directions… Snap&Read’s got you covered with its read-aloud feature.
It’s a sign of so many more good things to come: improved tools, more benefits, better access for people living with learning disabilities.
Now, creating accessible math problems is another story altogether. We’ll get to how EquatIO meets this challenge head-on, but first: why is making accessible math so hard without a specialized tool to help?
When most educators write digital math problems for their students, they’re not inherently accessible. Meaning: they’re not written in a way that can be read by accessibility tools.
That’s definitely not a failing of educators.
The reason is because “accessible” digital math relies on the creator to do a bunch of coding—a task that somebody with a lot of expertise like Kevin knows how to do, but not the rest of us. (Plus, who has the time?)
Kevin says, “It’s like the wild west of math out there. When you see math on a website, sometimes it’s an image of a math equation, right?”
“Without this key information, [accessibility tools] can’t know what is on the page other than here’s an image.”
Beyond just that, Kevin gives the example of complex math equations being difficult to write. “How do you write the square root of x to the third power on your computer, right now, easily?” he says. “You don’t.”
That’s where EquatIO comes in. “With EquatIO, you can actually just write that problem out and it will translate it into accessible math,” he says.
Creating accessible math with EquatIO is a breeze because it automatically does any coding involved for you.
“There’s not a single school that shouldn’t have this tool,” says Kevin, “Schools need to ask themselves the question: is this content accessible? And if you’re not using a tool to make it accessible, some students will never get the chance to participate fully.”
And we’re kinda ridiculously excited that Texthelp offers an amazing tool to fit that need.
It inspires us to dream about what other accessibility needs we’ll be able to fulfill as we proceed in our partnership with this wonderful company.