Three Students with Dyslexia Meet Distance Learning Challenges Head On

Students leverage a variety of instructional delivery platforms, assistive technology solutions, and personal coping strategies to make distance learning work for them

photo of emery, a middle grade girl, holding a tablet, headshot of Eli, a high school boy, and Ryan, a high school boy.

Pictured left to right: Emery, Eli, and Ryan

Across the country we hear
stories of teachers and students grappling with the demands of the virtual
classroom. For the 7 million students in the US who receive special education
services, the challenges are even more acute. In-person instruction and
continuous 1:1 support are critical. The shift to online learning raises red
flags and questions about not only how to provide similar support, but IF that
support can still be provided via distance learning.

While alarming stories of struggling students abound in the news, there are rays of hope. See how three students with dyslexia are making homeschooling work with their learning differences. From Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, to the dedicated support from teachers and insight into their own needs, these students are impressive.


Emery is a seventh grader in
Texas who was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade. She is talkative and
outgoing and has learned to advocate for herself in school. How does she make
distance learning work?

  • Instructional delivery: Emery’s school has used Google Classroom for a long time so that made transition easy for her. She likes how her math teacher posts videos with step-by-step instructions and holds office hours so she can ask for additional help.
  • Assistive Technology: Emery uses a Chromebook with accessibility settings like text-to-speech narration with highlighting. She creates digital vocabulary cards and uploads them to Voice Dream Reader which reads them to her. She also listens to The Outsiders in Bookshare using Voice Dream Reader and Dolphin EasyReader and enjoys choosing a voice that matches the way she hears the book in her head.
  • Self-care: Emery joins Zoom meetings with her swim team, does workouts in her garage, and tries to relax.


Eli is a tenth grader in Maine who has dyslexia. He misses the social interaction with his friends, but he is keeping up with schoolwork.

  • Instructional delivery: Eli says his teachers post videos that explain the lessons for the week. He is an auditory learning so video with narration suits his learning style.
  • Assistive Technology: Eli uses Read&Write from TextHelp which is a Google Chrome extension that overlays on top of Bookshare. He also uses Bookshare Web Reader and voice typing.
  • Self-care: Eli prefers to spread his schoolwork out, jump on his trampoline, and play piano and video games.


Ryan was diagnosed with
dyslexia in fifth grade and considers himself an extreme auditory learner. His
school developed a new IEP for distance learning and called him to make sure
the accommodations were being met.

  • Instructional
    Ryan’s school uses Microsoft Teams, and he appreciates how his
    teachers grade his work, return it to him, and he can correct the errors,
    resubmit the assignment, and improve his score.
  • Assistive
    Ryan uses Immersive Reader in Microsoft Word to read documents
    his teacher posts to Teams. He also uses his iPhone to listen to books he
    downloads from Bookshare. To Kill a
    is his current assigned reading.
  • Self-care
    Ryan enjoys watching Star Trek, playing piano, and listening to
    audiobooks while woodcarving

Thoughts from Students

Students are resilient and
full of surprises. Given the right tools, support, and perspective, it is
amazing what they can accomplish even in this challenging educational
landscape. We hope you will be encouraged to share these tips with your child
or students who may also be struggling with school closures. We applaud the teachers,
parents, guardians, and students who are finding creative and resourceful ways
to continue education under circumstances that no one was prepared for.

Help us Create More Learning Heroes

Collage of many different students using Bookshare. Support our learning heroes. Benetech and Bookshare logos. Giving Tuesday Now logos

Students need all the help they can get during this difficult time including having the books they need at their fingertips. With your support, we can ensure the millions of students with learning differences like Eli, Emery, and Ryan have the tools they need to adapt to distance learning and thrive.

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The post Three Students with Dyslexia Meet Distance Learning Challenges Head On appeared first on Benetech | Software for Social Good.

Source: Benetech