Go Red for Dyslexia

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and this week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. So AAS is going Red for this month. Please share to make Dyslexia known. Dyslexia affects people’s ability to decode and write words accurately. Assistive Technology helps to overcome this barrier to learning. If you want to know more just reach out to me via this website for advice and support

Hertfordshire BDA – saturday 17th september 2022

Assistive Technology can help your children in the following ways:-

  • an alternative to handwriting
  • note taking skills important for later life
  • text to speech – decoding text using assistive technology
  • speech to text – inputting content using your voice
  • word prediction – class use when speech is not possible
  • access to teaching and learning
  • Maths – Dyscalculia

This page will contain advice and resources that will be discussed in the session. Please contact me by email at myles@aas123.com for any questions you may have.

Your children and pupils don’t want to stand out in the class as being different so its always good to use mainstream software whether it’s a Microsoft or Google product they are using in the school context. Speech recognition is a good tool for the home. Homework can be done more effectively if it requires volumes of text. If it’s just a few words then using the spell checker and typing suggestions are just as good.

In the workshop I will be looking simple changes to the operating system as well as extensions to browsers and free and paid apps for iOS that may be useful to you. Android will be touched on as well as Chrome OS.


Useful Operating System Changes

Windows 10/11 Accessibility – switch on typing suggestions and the option to make suggestions when you type. This produces a short list of possible words to use

Google Voice Typing – in Google Docs under Tools is the option to use voice typing. Google does this well and it’s quite accurate.

Dictation in Email is a Chrome Extension that allows voice typing in Google Email.

Smart Typing works as artificial intelligence guessing what you want to write as you type. Suggestions are in grey and you may be using it without knowing! It’s switched on in settings or via the wizard when you set up a google account.

Chrome Extensions ( mostly free with some having paid adds-ins if needed)

Grammarly is the chrome extension of choice by older children, pupils and students as it corrects again as you type. I am using it now and its handy on picking up my grammatical errords. There is also a free add – in for MSWord where grammarly sits on the toolbar in Word. Paid options are also available with more options to have. It’s one drawback on free is American spellings!

Natural Reader – is a text to speech tool that can read out PDF’s . If you are using The Edge – Read Aloud is really good and it’s also good on an iPad.

Color Enhancer is a Chrome extension that puts a filter over the screen to make it more readable for the user in Chrome. Fully customisable and maybe useful for those who need to use overlays to decode text

Lightkey Chrome extension works invisibly suggesting completing of text like smart typing.

Helperbird Chrome extension is a suite of tools that help you access your browser more suited to your needs. Like a certain font? Then Helperbird can set that font to work over the internet on your browser. Worth a look.

Read&Write for Chrome is a useful toolbar for research and text to speech. Again can be used when needed. Text to speech cuts down the time and energy decoding long pieces of text.

Apple iOS


Display – changes from size to bold text as well as screen filtering options

Spoken Content – an easier way (and safer!) so you don’t loose your text by inadverttly pressing the screen area. It gives a playback menu that reads and highlights the text as spoken.

Microphone on the On-screen keyboard – now free from using wifi. Not always accurate for young children. But works well as an integrated tool for efficiency.

Keyboards – add-in keyboards like Read&Write and Swiftkey as well as slowing key presses and repeat key pressing options. More important for children and adults with fine mote problems.


Notability​ – £free – note taking https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/notability/id360593530

Read&Write – £free – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readwrite-for-google-chro/inoeonmfapjbbkmdafoankkfajkcphgd

Claro Speak – £free with in app purchases https://apps.apple.com/us/app/clarospeak-literacy-support/id977258467

Claro PDF​ – £free with in-app purchases – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/claropdf/id666770153

Remember The Milk​ – £free – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/remember-the-milk/id293561396

Widget Writer​ – £0.89 – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/widgit-writer/id1142926801

Glean Notes ​ – £free app but with subscription as well – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/glean-notes/id1498045022

Claro ScanPen​ – £8.99 – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/claro-scanpen/id994933713

Popplet Lite​ – £free – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/popplet-lite/id364738549

Speaking Email​ – £free with in-app purchases – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/speaking-email-voice-reader/id991406423

Book Creator​ – £2.49 – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070

Easy Dyslexia Aid – £2.49 https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/easy-dyslexia-aid/id1088194043

​Correct Spelling – £free – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/correct-spelling-checker/id1481028375

Timetable – £free – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/timetable-studies-and-tasks/id309048319

Other Software

My Study Bar – suite of tools that may be useful in exam conditions. Free and can sit across any application to be used.

Voice Typer – provides speech recognition into any app or browser. A bit slow and as a weird way of hiding the menu. Just found this recently and still seeing its potential. No training required.

Maths- Dyscalculia

The following software may be helpful in helping you child/pupil/student have structured maths experience. Most research points to careful coaching and building on previous learnt maths skills. If the building blocks have been missed then it’s difficult to progress

• IXL Maths – IXL | Personalised skill recommendations

•Dynamo Maths –

•Nessy Maths – Maths | Nessy

•Splash Learn – Math Games for Kids Online SplashLearn

•Equatio –


Changes in Google that affect synapptics tablets

This also applies to any third party apps being used on a device as well.

Just been with a client today using a Synapptic Tablet. She had trouble with her emails which we eventually found out was caused by Google blocking the email function on her tablet. 


Need to go Security settings on the google account concerned and  do the following

 – setup two factor authentication which will need a smart phone or mobile phone for a text message

– next go to security and go to “Third party apps with account access” and add “Synapptics” to the list

A 16 digit code will be generated which needs copying down or taking a photo of. It’s a one-time code that you type into Basic Email Settings of Synapptics  ( synapptics doesn’t allow pasting into the password area !) under Password.

I used IMAP settings with port values Incoming 995 and SMTP port settings of 465. You can find these on the web if needed. I set them in Synapptics under the “Advanced settings”  in Email. 

what you need to know before getting a service dog

Dogs make great companions for many people. For people who have disabilities, service dogs can be invaluable for mobility, health, and companionship. You may be considering giving a service out if you have any type of disability. However, having a service dog is slightly different than having an animal companion that does not work for you. From Accessibility Smyles, here are three things you need to know before you get a service dog.

1. Certain Breeds Make Better Service Dogs

Ultimately, it comes down to the individual temperament of a canine to determine whether or not it will make a good service animal. However, certain breeds make better service animals than others. Even within these breeds, up to 70% of dogs are chosen to work as service animals to not complete the necessary training, according to one study. You should carefully consider your specific needs to choose the right service dog for you.

2. Service Dogs Can Help With Many Types of Disabilities

When you think of service dogs, you probably think of guide dogs that help blind people navigate the world when they are out in public. This is only one example of a service dog. Some service dogs are trained to recognize low blood sugar and other health hazards so that they can help their owners live life to the fullest. Other service animals provide anxiety relief. Some simply provide companionship for people who are grieving. There are many types of service dogs, so it is crucial to choose one that is specifically trained to help with the area you struggle in.

You also need to remember that service dogs need a yard to run in, just like non-working animals. Having a fence is important for keeping your new pet safe. If you don’t have a fence, you can speak with contractors in your community to get a quote that falls into your budget. Make sure you read the reviews on various companies before you decide which one to use for fence insulation.

3. There Is an Adjustment Period When You Get a Service Dog

Whenever you bring a dog home, it disrupts your family’s normal routine. There is always an adjustment period, and many experts say that it takes up to three weeks for a dog to completely settle into its new home. The experience is no different when you bring home a service dog. Not only does your new companion have to adjust to a new environment, but he also has to get used to working closely with you and providing you with the services you need to thrive.

It’s important to take measures to reduce stress around your home while your new service dog adjusts. Eliminate as much stress as possible and spend time bonding with your new companion. Lots of treats, love, and affection can help your dog adjust more quickly.

It also helps to have important supplies on hand to help your furry companion settle in more quickly. You need to have basic supplies such as food, bedding, and toys, whether you have a service dog or a non-working animal. Your dog’s trainer may also recommend specific supplies to help your new pet thrive. Regardless of which products you purchase, make sure you look at reviews to ensure they are high quality.

Getting a service dog is a great way to maintain your independence and care for your health when you have any type of disability. Before you get a service dog, make sure you understand these three things to ensure you are ready for the responsibility.

Image via Pexels

Day 2 – A11y Accessibility Camp, North Idaho

On the second day, we continued the work that had begun on the first day. More accessible format skill sessions, but also some unusual ones such as a surfer! I did a session on “We can make a difference – how to change lives one person at a time.” This was the passion thread for the conference and I wanted to show that individuals can make a difference. It seemed to go well by all accounts. The day finished with a panel session where all of us speakers were grilled for our opinions on things such as what was our biggest assistive technology achievement.

The conference was a success and I have been invited back for next year. Its a shame it is so far away fore me. It will take place on the 2nd & 3rd of August 2023. Make a note in your diary and if you are stateside consider making a visit I am sure you will not be disappointed if only for the lakeside position of the college!

And the beautiful scenery

DAY 1 – A11y Accessibility Camp

All set to go and it’s looking good! All of the speakers are here and Jeremy has put on a great programme for the delegates. We have our badges and look forward to some exciting presentations ( not mine!). I will try and report as we go.

Dan Prado is an inspirational speaker and he inspired us to “think better than we are”. I also attended a seminar on Adobe InDesign looking at how Accessiblity can be done to PDF’s using this subscription based product. It comes at a cost but worth it if you are a university , college or company looking to make your information accessible to the blind.

My session on “Making Accessibility Work” went well with contributions from the audience and a wide range of material discussed.

Dax and Chad run a Podcast worth subscribing to called “CHAX Chat Podcast – Accessibility Unraveled ” You can also search A11Y with Dax Castro and Chad Chelius . Here is the link enjoy! Finally,do pay a visit to my Podcast “The Smyles Podcast” and learn about the trip to Lebanon for the ABLE conference I did early this year you will find it on my website Accessibility Solutions

Finally, Maha Zouwayhed who gave a passionate talk on “Lebanon, the happiest depressed people in the world” Explaining what they have all been through and how dancing and a positive attitude can help you win through.

Finally, we all ending up at this beautiful spot for a network meal. What a way to end the day! You should come to this event if you interested in Accessibility and you live in the states.

Accessibility camp conference, north idaho

It won’t be long now before I go across the pond to a conference organised by my good friend Jeremy Seda. The theme is Accessibility and I will be delivering two talks:-

“Making Accessibility Work” and “We Can Make A Difference”

So if you are in the area and want to come along that click on the link below:-

Sitting in Weatherspoons at Heathrow Airport, London waiting for my flight to JFK. Excited about the above event which has an interesting line up of speakers All I can add is from a user – personal approach of hard experience of trying my best to solve individual problems.

Over the last 10 years I have seen the importance of doing that. Solving each disabled person’s problems. Tech has been getting simpler but we still have not acheived the goal yet of fully integrated solutons (in my opinion). We are getting there and I want to explain and show some of the possible ways to develop that way of thinking. Some of the things we need to think about relates to what doesn’t work when it should and how we can make help guides written from a user point of view rather than a techy point of view or maybe both to square the solution!

I don’t think there will be an online , remote element but I will keep watch for it.

Wish me luck!

Windows mail- a useful shortcut

In my day-to-day problem-solving role for AAS I come across some useful information. A blind client of mine was struggling to attach an image as the menu for this can’t be found by doing the usual navigation of TAB across the screen. No, this one was definitely not that!

The answer is the ALT key which opens up this top menu and ALT + N gives you the Insert menu where you find File by using the down arrow key. Quite a process for a simple request but it is these things that prove an access issue for blind users.