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Reading Disorders

Research has consistently shown that people with reading disorders such as dyslexia, Meares-lrlen Syndrome and visual impairment can benefit from specifically designed reading tuition, guided reading and lesson plans. Reading disorders, such as Dyslexia and Meares-lrlen (Scotopic Sensitivity) Syndrome, affect a significant number of people. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading difficulty; it is estimated that one in 10 children is dyslexic.

Being affected by a reading disorder can be a daunting and frustrating experience for a child and, if not properly addressed, might lead to low self-esteem and underachievement in adult life. At the same time, children with dyslexia are often characterized by above average intelligence, and can excel if given proper attention and assistance. History is full of examples of many noteworthy people who have overcome dyslexia to achieve enormous success — George Washington and Albert Einstein being probably the most famous. Those with reading disorders may suffer from low reading stamina and slow reading speeds. In one study of dyslexic undergraduates it was found that more than half could only sustain reading for five minutes or less before becoming too tired to continue[1].

Research has consistently shown that people with reading disorders can benefit from specifically designed reading tuition and improve their reading skills and ability to processinformation at any age. For example, the study by Klassen in [14] showed that dyslexic students who received special reading support made up 6 months per year in additional reading progress with 13% of the students with reading disorders catching up to their peers. However, the earlier the problem is diagnosed and addressed, the better the chances of successfully overcoming it. According to the International Dyslexia Association, 74% of the children who are poor readers in third grade, remain poor readers in the ninth grade. This means they never make the transition to proficient readers in adulthood.

Fortunately, more and more research is being conducted into the field, and some proven methods of instruction and techniques that are effective in overcoming reading disorders have emerged. RocketReader software uses the following special features and techniques to make reading instruction easier for dyslexics and others affected by reading difficulties:

a.) Choice of special preset exercise templates.

The user can control the appearance of the RocketReader exercise windows by picking from a selection of visual templates that automatically set the font colors, type face and spacing. The templates have been especially designed for users with various reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and visually impaired readers (as per the English Roya National Institute for the Blind’s recommendations). l

b.) Custom colored texts and backgrounds.

In addition to choosing from a variety of templates, RocketReader allows the user to pick from a palette of contrasting colors, or even set custom colors. It is now a well known — and researched — fact that people with reading difficulties often find using colored eyeglasses and tinted contact lenses assists their reading. (Meares, O. 1980, Irlen, H. 1983, Wilkins AJ, 1993). The use of colored overlays — sheets of translucent or transparent colored plastic placed over a page — has also proven beneficial[25].

c.) Wide selection of fonts.

The user can change fonts in all RocketReader exercises, and in the popup dialogs. The user can also select the line spacing e.g. 1.5 spacing or double line spacing. Individuals with poor reading speed and reading difficulties, often have problems with the letter recognition process; specifically, the ability to detect the vertical strokes or edges that make up the characters. According to Irons, P. (2003), text size should be at least 12 point and preferably with increased character spacing, as these additional elements have been shown to reduce some of the visual disturbances which occur.

d.) Displaying a limited number of words at a time.

The RocketReader flash, grouping and speed training exercises all use the principle of displaying a limited number of words (starting at the most basic level with one word) at a time. In combination with the ability to control speeds, the user is given total control over the pace of the exercises. This enables users to exercise ‘as fast as they can but as slow as they need to’, which is consistent with the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach[19].

e.) Training to better detect word boundaries.

Some recent research by Florer and HunterKhan [7] suggests that changes in reading rate that result from letter spacing are attributable to the detection of word boundaries, and not the visibility of letters. RocketReader flash and grouping exercises train the reader’s eye to better distinguish word boundaries, thus improving the fluency of reading.

f.) Readability analysis

RocketReader allows the reader to determine the grade level of the texts read, thus ensuring that practice is performed on texts of adequate complexity.

g.) Comprehension testing.

Poor comprehension is a known problem associated with reading disorders. RocketReader’s dedicated comprehension tests are designed to ensure that an increase in reading speed is accompanied by excellent comprehension rates.

h.) Structured Exercises.

RocketReader’s structured, sequenced, repetitive exercising environment is consistent with the Orton-Gillingham approach. Other benefits include a rich selection of practice readings targeted at various age groups (age six to professional level), lesson statistics for teachers and parents, customizable look and feel, and many more features to address reading disorders.

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