Back in grade school dyslexia wasn’t something my teachers knew much about. I clearly remember the humiliation when my third grade teacher, Mrs. White, rang the bell and announced to the class, “I need everyone’s attention. Apparently we have a very unique student in this class, Aileen says she lives in a horse.” The class broke out in laughter as she continued to read my paper out loud with all of it’s contextual errors, and completely wrong words.
From then on I was given names ranging from dumb, to moron, to alien… That was the one I despised the most, alien! When she gave me back my paper, there was red writing with huge letters stating the obvious… ”SPELLING!!!”
It wasn’t until I was 23 that I learned I was dyslexic, thanks to my Ballet teacher who told me to get tested. Unfortunately many children and adults go through life without ever knowing they’re dyslexic and never knowing there are techniques that can help them. That’s why the estimated number of people with dyslexia varies between 5% – 20% of the population. It’s easy to assume someone is just a poor speller, or isn’t great with comprehension, but when the signs are present, it’s good to be tested and learn how to move through the challenges dyslexia presents.
Here are some helpful websites where you can learn more about dyslexia (good both for children and adults). It really is liberating to learn how to learn… Some of us just learn a little differently.
Despite my numerous embarrassing dyslexic moments, I somehow managed to really enjoy writing. I just really disliked the idea of others reading what I wrote.
I would write little stories and poems in the back of my notebooks and in my text books year after year. Eventually I graduated to writing in journals, and one day G convinced me to start a blog and Kaizen Vision was born… of course all my writing fears came along with it.
Since that time, I’ve explored many tools to help with my spelling and contextual errors, in the hopes of finding a real solution.
Good Writing Tools
1. Spell Check – As you might have noticed, spell check is a good tool for finding spelling errors but it’s not so great for finding words out of context such as “living in a horse”, instead of “house”. Reading out loud isn’t that great either, since my dyslexic brain tends to see what I intended to write rather than what is actually on the page.
2. Text to Speech - Text to speech software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking Software is good for reading out loud the exact words on the page. It allows my ears to pick up incorrect wording or contextual errors. The issue occurs when a word sounds correct, but it’s actually the wrong word such as weather vs. whether and of course to my eyes they often look the same.
3. Speech Recognition – Speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, is supposed to be good tool for transcribing a person’s speech onto a page but I’ve been trying to get it to work for the last year, but it just doesn’t seem to get my voice and far too many words are wrong when I try to use it. I’m sure it’s me and not Dragon, since I’ve heard others rave about Dragon’s speech recognition, but for me, it’s still quite a challenge.
Living in the spirit of personal kaizen means I’m never done trying to improve and I don’t give up easily, so, in my seemingly endless pursuit of having less embarrassing moments of incorrect wording, I made an wonderful discovery!
A true gem for writers everywhere!
It has truly calmed my writer fears of wrong words.
Here it is…
Ghotit – This phenomenal software was created by a dyslexic for dyslexics. He created this software knowing that dyslexics see words and letters differently, and therefore he wrote the program to “think” and “see” with a dyslexic vision.
You run it like you would run spell check in your Microsoft Word document. Just start at the top of the text and press the Ghotit icon. It takes one sentence at a time and highlights words that are common errors and ones that don’t seem right such as “she travels the word” (world). You can press the speaker icon and it will sound it out. It will also give you a drop down menu with possible words and the option to hear the suggested words. Unlike traditional spell check, it catches most words out of context.
Typically I run spell check and then I run Ghotit, becuase it’s fun seeing what spell check missed.But, you can go about the process however way you wish.
Here is a link to the Ghotit website where you can test it out.
And to any non-dyslexic writers out there who need another layer of proofreading to check for their own contextual errors, Ghotit doesn’t discriminate!
What are some your favorite writing tools? Please do share!