Only a few decades ago, people with reading disabilities had little to no available solutions to improve their day-to-day lives. Today, technological advancements are reaching new heights and creating breakthroughs that were thought unreachable in the past. Almost every challenging physical condition currently has several solutions that allow for a more independent lifestyle. These solutions may not solve every challenge and provide for complete independence, but they will help people increase their quality of life.
What Are Reading Disabilities?
According to Wikipedia, a reading disability is “a condition in which a sufferer displays difficulty reading.” Sometimes, people with this condition can read, however slowly and with difficulties reading long or complex words. In other cases, people can barely read at all. The most difficult of these conditions is when people can’t read at all. Most people start reading in elementary school. This later becomes an every day, all-day activity we perform throughout high school. Throughout this time, some kids simply have a hard time reading. This difficulty is described as Dyslexia.
Wikipedia describes Dyslexia in the following way; “Dyslexia, also known as reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence.” As this definition suggests, highly intelligent individuals and even genius’s can be dyslexic. Here is a list of ten of some of the smartest people to live in the last two hundred years who were dyslexic. Therefore, you can rest assured that a person’s intelligence or creativity can still be very high while living with reading disabilities.
Effects on Daily Life
When we hear the term disability, we usually think of people who are handicapped, deaf, blind, or other forms of disabilities. Reading disabilities, however, are indeed limiting the lives of people with the condition. Just as it is with any other limitation, difficulty or disability, people who do not have that condition don’t even think about it as a disability. We live in a world where text describes and explains most things. We read articles, manuals, books, street signs, menus at restaurants, the ingredients of the food we buy, the forms we need to fill out at the doctor’s office, and so much more.
Reading is an act we constantly perform and it is essential for living in the modern world. People who can’t read must rely on human assistance constantly. In some cases, such as bus stops, information centers and so forth, there are buttons for audio information. Without these, the only other types of assistance available are human and digital.
Audio Digital Assistance
Most of the information we receive today is through computers, tablets, and smartphones. Almost every new device has an option for verbally requesting the information you want to receive from the device (such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.). Most of the information people search for is through search engines. However, requesting the information verbally is only one step in the process.
The second step is being able to have the information read out loud. There are currently devices that will read any digital or printed text out loud. The most advanced device that performs text reading is OrCam MyEye. This device allows people with reading disabilities to have access to all of the information they need anywhere and everywhere, even without an internet connection. The availability of text reading with no internet connection will allow users to read books outdoors, navigate city streets, read menus in restaurants and more, anywhere in the world.
One of the most essential text reading activities is when shopping for food and home supplies at grocery stores. We can choose from so many brands and products these days. These brands use so many different ingredients and materials to manufacture those items. Even for people without reading disabilities, the amount of information on each product’s packaging can be overwhelming. When living with food sensitivities or chemical allergies, the necessity increases for reading product information. With the use of technology, shopping can be done independently by anyone with every level of reading capability without missing out on product information.
Employment Enablement Through Technology
One of the most challenging obstacles for people with reading disabilities is employment. With the development of the digital age, almost every office job requires reading constantly. Therefore, people who have difficulty reading text throughout the day have fewer jobs they can perform. However, when reading devices are available for reading any instructions or training materials, there are fewer job requirement barriers for people who have difficulties reading. Education and training of advanced professions in academia require learning a significant amount of textual information throughout at least a few years. One of the most intense degrees as far as text reading goes are law degrees. These days, using text readers, students with reading difficulties can complete law degrees.
With the advancement of technology, reading difficulties that used to hold people back in life are now becoming a smaller factor in determining their educational and career opportunities. Generally, these advancements are allowing people with reading disabilities to have more independence in their daily lives, regardless of their reading capabilities.
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