Sunday 20 March 2011

Portable Touch Typing Tutor

Tipp 10 has been around for five years, and had over 1.4m downloads, in German. This month they launched the English version, which is Portable. That is, you can put it on a USB memory stick. looks good but I ahve not tried it yet. Also, it is available for Window, Mac and Linux!

Tipp 10 Typing Tutor

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Free ebooks for kids

I was asked by a friend for ideas for free reading books for children. Here is a great website which lists many.

Free e-books

Monday 14 March 2011

Grammar and spelling

Today somebody asked me for a recommendation of something free to use instead of Ginger Software, to help with their grammar and spelling. So I made a quick check on the internet, and I found Paper Rater. And while I am generally enthusiastic about most things, this was wonderful! It works differently, but I am sure it will do the job.


Wednesday 23 February 2011

Monday 7 February 2011


Even thought I tend to use the newsletter now, I will keep you informed of other things that are going on here. So here is one. It is a webinar (a across between the web and a seminar) that I am doing on 24 Feb 2011, at 7pm UK time.

Assistive Technology – Why pay?
In a social model of dyslexia support, appropriate assistive technology would be supplied free to everybody, irrespective of the extend of their disabilities and the paperwork to support it. However, current policies provide money to the lucky few with little analysis of impact, productivity and value for money. Professor Ian Smythe shows that there is plenty of free software available, and often it is as good as the commercial versions. A dedicated web page with resources will be available after the talk.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Newsletter update

I will continue to feed information into this blog. But I am also starting a regular newsletter for all those interested in what is happening in the world of dyslexia. It is most about free resources that are available online, and mostly free. Please send me an email at if you would like to be added to the mailing list.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Offline PDF to Word

Here is an offline converter for PDF to Word. And it is free.

Free Converter

Monday 27 December 2010

PDF to Word

I recently had a need to find a way to convert a PDF to a Word document. Here is the online service I used. I strongly recommend it.Quick, no registration, no hassle.


Friday 17 December 2010

Lost in Translation? No more

All I can say here is - check out this video! It speaks for itself. Awesome! I am not an iPhone fan, but this is just amazing, and so dyslexia friendly!

Word Lens

Saturday 4 December 2010

Caldys2 - Teaching languages to dyslexic individuals

The new Caldys2 project has started a blog that looks to provide information not only on its own activities, but also links to the wider world of teaching languages to dyslexic individuals.


Friday 12 November 2010

Google Instant Preview

Have you seen the new Google Instant Previews yet? It emulated the visual view for searching that I have been reporting over the past few years. Just click on that magnifier at the end of an entry, and up pops an image of that web page.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Saving memories from the Blackberry

I am always worried when I change phones how I can retain all those old sms and email that are on the Blackberry. I can forward emails, but text messages are more problematic. Today I found some software that can read all my old messages (on a 30 day trial, but I can convert to pdf if I want and then I don't have to pay!) They have many other converters too.

Blackberry message converter

Sunday 24 October 2010


Want to attach a Post-It note to a document. Here is how to do it, whether it is a web page, Word dot of email.


Monday 4 October 2010

Talking OCR on an iPhone

I have been watching the fall and fall of the cost of taking a picture of text with a phone and then having it read out. The lowest I have seen (of a commercial kind) is "Prizmo for iPhone 1.0 is available worldwide exclusively on the App Store, and costs $9.99 (USD). A speech synthesis voice is available as In-App Purchase for $2.99 (USD)." That is around £10 for the whole system!

Link to the iPhone OCR

Saturday 2 October 2010

Whitesmoke - Improve your writing skills

I keep meaning to find a way to improve my writing. Here is a video that has convinced me to take a closer look at this software.


Saturday 25 September 2010

iSheds Resources available

The EU funded iSHeds project - Identification and Support in Higher Education of Dyslexic Students - has now launched its major resources:
  • an ebook for dyslexic students
  • an ebook for those supporting dyslexic students
  • mini-profilers to help identification of dyslexic students
  • assistive technology for dyslexic students
All these are aimed at those in the Balkan states with resources available in EN, BA, HR, HU, RO, RS, SI.


Friday 17 September 2010

Embed Resources

Embed is a project that has, over the past two years, been refining a series of outcomes from a diversity of EU funded projects, whcih are no available in one central portal. The main ones are:
  • Online profiler for children
  • Online profiler for adults
  • Online e-book for parents and teachers
  • Online e-book for dyslexic adults
  • Self-audit for institutions
  • Self-audit for support workers
  • Self audit for dyslexic adults
  • Using technology

Saturday 11 September 2010

Live language translation from Google, on a mobile phone

If you had trouble with learning a language at school, but want to communicate in a language other than English for business or pleasure, then this may be of interest to you.

It seems that Google have just demonstrated speech translation (English - German) using an android smartphone. You speak the English, it speaks back German. Think of the possibilities of that! But no launch date announced as yet.

Google voice translation

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Languages and projects for dyslexic adults

I have recently compiled a list of EU projects to accompany the article "Dyslexia related resources in different language" in Journal of Inclusive Practice in Higher and Further Eduction. Here is the link to the page.

Link to Resources for dyslexic adults

Sunday 5 September 2010

Dys2 Coming to life

It seems that Dys2 is just about ready to launch with its new set of games, following on from the original 135. These are activities to promote the integration of cognitive skill development activities within the overall teaching practice. Below is the link and the description from the web site.


DYS 2.0 is intended for transfer and improvement of the successfully completed GRUNDTVIG project EDysgate 2006–2008. We offer here a motivating and stimulating learning environment for carefully selected range of skills known to be important to young dyslexic adults.

At project's end nearly 275 learning games and a game configurator will be free of charge available in 6 languages (English, German, Bulgarian, Greek, Czech, Lithuanian).

The learning games address seven areas of particular importance for vocational skills development:

Auditory Discrimination
Auditory Memory
Auditory Sequence
Visual Discrimination
Visual Memory
Visual Sequence
Spatial Position

The areas are targeted through direct and indirect stimulation. The principles behind the learning games are not specific to any given language – they will work for all individuals across Europe.
The learning games will be developed in collaboration with young dyslexic adults as well as those who train them.

The target groups are: young dyslexic adults at age app 16-26, their parents and trainers specialised on dyslexia. The main purpose of using the learning games is to support the development of vocational skills and life chances of young dyslexic adults and to provide a new kind of resources to trainers.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Cut that URL

I recently created a web site that would support an article I am writing. The article is: Smythe I and Molhova M (2010) Text-to-speech software for the multilingual dyslexic user. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Higher and Further Education. Autumn 2010.

The URL of the page is

Now while I can hide that with a hyperlink, that is not possible in a printed journal. So I looked for the shortest I could find where I could make the link memorable (i.e. not a random collection of letters). It is a tiny carbon copy. Or

So the new address is

This reduces the number of characters from 105 to just 26. Perfect for a Twitter!

If you want to highlight a web page but do not want to write the whole web address out every time, I can recommend

Saturday 14 August 2010

Welsh language voice for text-to-speech

I have just learned that a new Welsh language voice (commissioned by the RNIB has been launched by Ivona. (Thanks Alasdair.) I will give details of how to download it when I can track them down. It should work with most text-to-speech interfaces, including Claro, Ivona, Balabolka and TextHelp.

Saturday 31 July 2010


This may be seven years old, and it may be cut and paste, but I think that this is still one friendliest pieces of text-to-speech other there. Its beauty is a simple download, easy to access interface, large symbols, and control of the key elements, namely speech, font size, it has several voices, and word highlighting. You can adjust the pause between paragraphs (to consolidate your thoughts) and adjust colours (e.g. for highlighting). You could even have it start on startup, and read your own text. How about "I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you." In case you do not recognise it, it was spoken by the computer Hal in Kubrick's 2001, A Space Odyssey.

ReadPlease 2003

Thursday 29 July 2010

Ivona Mini Reader

I rather liked this little reader. It is free, and has a good voice.

Ivona MiniReader

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Natural Reader Text-to-speech

Inspired by the comment left by Lis yesterday, the next TTS to consider at is NaturalReader. This is free software which comes in two versions: cut and paste or a Floating Bar (see bottom left of the image above).

It is downloadable free, and uses free microsoft voice. If you want higher functionality, such as saving files as audio, you need to pay for it.

Natural Reader

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Text to speech voice

I am currently writing an article about text-to-speech, and therefore a number of the entries will be about that work. Today, I give you the list of all the voices I know of that can be used for text-to-speech. If you know of others, please let me know. As far as I know, these can all be used with other software such as Balabolka.

List of Voices

Monday 26 July 2010

Balabolka text-to-speech software

When it comes to Text-to-Speech software, there is so much out there that it is hard to find a recommendation. But today I have one. And what is more, it has everything I could ever imagine needing, which is a far cry from much of the others which appear to have been not full through through. It is also multilingual, so you can line it up with any voice you wish and have the menus in the right language.


Friday 9 July 2010

Online text to speech

Here is a review of the current top ten online text to speech systems.

Top 10 Text to speech

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Riot - Radical Image Optimization Tool

This is a wonderful little tool that gets better with every update. Pictures can be very useful, as part of coursework, or illustrating a point in a presentation, or a website. But it is always good to have it at the right size, to speed up loading, and for when you email it. The latest version now has Brightness and Contrast control.

RIOT Download