New project to help dyslex­ics

SCHEME TO MAKE TECH­NOL­OGY EAS­IER TO AC­CESS BY CONVERTING TEXT TO SPEECH

Sunderland Echo - - News - By Sue Kirby sue.kirby@jpress.co.uk @suekir­byjp

A new scheme has been launched in Sun­der­land to help dyslexic peo­ple with tech­nol­ogy.

Sun­der­land Li­braries Ser­vice has joined forced with vol­un­tary group, So­cial In­clu­sion and Dyslexia Project (SID), to help dyslexic peo­ple who are so­cially ex­cluded get bet­ter ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

The project will use soft­ware on all pub­lic ac­cess li­brary com­put­ers, to al­low peo­ple to use their key­board and screens to con­vert text into speech, help­ing them to com­plete on­line forms.

Coun John Kelly, Sun­der­land City Coun­cil Cab­i­net Mem­ber for Com­mu­ni­ties and Cul­ture, said: “Pro­vid­ing the soft­ware on the com­put­ers in our li­braries will sup­port peo­ple with dyslexia in read­ing alone, to con­vert text to speech, with the com­puter it­self read­ing the in­for­ma­tion di­rectly back to the user, and will help us to be­gin to un­der­stand what more can be done in the fu­ture.”

Joanne Young­son, from SID, said: “Peo­ple with dyslexia face so­cial ex­clu­sion in their ev­ery­day lives at work, in ed­u­ca­tion or train­ing and in the home.

“Bar­ri­ers that ex­clude them, can cause stress and ul­ti­mately pre­vent them from tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to work and learn.

“Our project em­pow­ers peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence bar­ri­ers such as read­ing and writ­ing and teaches them to use tech­nol­ogy, such as speech to text and text to speech.”

For­mer builder Colin Fish­wick, 64, said: “I lit­er­ally couldn’t pick up a pen to write a let­ter, I had to pay oth­ers to do that for me when I was in busi­ness, but was al­ways good with tech­nol­ogy.

“Once you know how to use it to help in your ev­ery­day life, it lit­er­ally opens the door to new pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

To help pro­mote the part­ner­ship project a Dyslexia Aware­ness Short Story Com­pe­ti­tion has also been launched invit­ing peo­ple to share their ex­pe­ri­ences of dyslexia in a short story, video or voice record­ing.

En­tries are open un­til Septem­ber 15, with the win­ning en­try an­nounced dur­ing the Sun­der­land Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber.

The top prize is a lap­top, and for more in­for­ma­tion visit www.sun­der­land.gov. uk/li­braries.

Sun­der­land Li­braries Ser­vices is also work­ing along­side SID to run as­sisted tech­nol­ogy work­shops. They will be on Au­gust 22 at Wash­ing­ton Town Cen­tre Li­brary, Au­gust 29 at Houghton Li­brary, Septem­ber 5 at Wash­ing­ton Town Cen­tre Li­brary and Septem­ber 12 at Houghton Li­brary. All ses­sions from 2pm to 4pm.

Visit www.sid­pro­ject.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

From left, Elaine Kruse, Joanne Young­son, Coun John Kelly, Coun Linda Scan­lan and Al­li­son Clarke.

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