A ReaderPen provides independent reading support

With a ReaderPen, reading support is achieved independently of a human reader.

—By Quin Chandler

PenScannerWe have been living through a giant teaching challenge and ever-changing circumstances in education. But there is one thing we know we must do. We must ensure that our students read, because this is the key to the process of engagement, enrichment, and participation.

Learners who require additional support with reading and accessing text have always been our priority at Scanning Pens. Learning at home is challenging, it has caused a re-think in how we provide support. Modifying programs of study and accessibility has been an all-consuming task that has gripped the teaching profession.

However, one major positive about this day and age is our fabulous technology. It can support all areas of life, and it has a vibrant role to play. Reading support tools come in many forms, high, mid, or low tech, but one simple addition to a student’s toolkit can completely revolutionise their learning journey.

Let’s focus on the basics – reading support, the backbone of learning. For many students with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, it is not the lack of cognitive ability that hampers progress, but simply the reading and processing of written text. With a ReaderPen, reading support is achieved independently of a human reader. Scanned text is simultaneously read back and this instantly increases comprehension and confidence – the starting points for engagement and achievement. Because the text is simultaneously highlighted on the screen, students access multi-modal learning support.

Research from the Audio Publishers Association shows that students who are engaging in this simultaneous visual and audio support, display a 67% increase in motivation. 85% of what we learn is through listening. By providing discreet audio support for everyday reading in class, in exams, and beyond into the workplace, we can unlock a better quality of life for those who struggle with reading.

Mid-Tech: Sophisticated yet Easy to Use
For all its glory, however, technology can sometimes prove too techy for some of us. Complicated setups, too many options, and obtuse instructions for use can make implementing certain technologies more of a chore than an instant support mechanism. When selecting assistive technology to use in education settings, especially in the primary phase, it is vital that it be easy to implement and use to its full potential. Reading aids fall into the category of ‘Mid-Tech’, adhering to the needs mentioned above. Mid-Tech means something sophisticated, yet easy to use – music to the ears of teachers and parents alike as they look for additional support for their young learners. It requires no WiFi, so is accessible anywhere, and has a built-in battery to make charging as simple as charging your mobile phone.

Another prevalent benefit of this Mid-Tech option, especially while homeschooling, is that it is distraction-free. Unlike a tablet or smartphone, these aids are designed specifically to support the act of reading so that the user cannot flick between reading support and, for example, a non-educational gaming App.

Proven increase in reading accuracy
With a built-in primary dictionary to support comprehension and to compliment the read-aloud feature, this affordable and easy-to-use assistive technology has been proven to have a profound impact on the learning of primary school students. Research from the Malta Secretariat for Catholic Schools showed that in just an eight-week period, students’ reading accuracy increased by 13 months while their comprehension levels saw a 10-month increase.

The toolbox approach is the best way to close the reading gap. To empower our learners, we must consider new ways to ensure that text can be accessed. Reading is the wedge that keeps the door to the curriculum open, so it is vital that we provide strategies for reading support at home and at school.

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