Dyslexia Reading Tools: Fluency & Flow

Select & Use The Best Tools For Dyslexia Reading For All Ages

Dyslexia is an extremely common learning disability that affects reading fluency and comprehension in both children and adults. It is characterized by difficulties with identifying letters, sounding out words, and processing written language, making it challenging for individuals to decode words and understand written text, and creating barriers to fluent and accurate reading, writing, and spelling. People with dyslexia often have trouble processing the phonological component of language, that is, the system of individual sounds and letters, and how they go together. Dyslexia affects different people in different ways; it can show up in a wide range of severities and presents with many variations.


This article explores various dyslexia reading tools designed to support dyslexic readers of all ages. We will examine software programs that convert text to speech or provide phonics instruction, and hardware options like e-readers and scanning pens, as well as physical aids such as colored overlays and reading strips.

In the following article, we will provide a light overview of dyslexia as a disability, and some guidance on selecting the most appropriate tools for reading with dyslexia based on understanding individual needs and learning styles, with a focus on usability, customization, and accessibility. Success stories from dyslexic individuals will illustrate the positive impact of these technologies. By exploring the available options following suggestions from this guide, readers with dyslexia can discover tools that help them or their students to become confident and successful readers.

What is Dyslexia, And Who Has It?

Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects the ability to read, spell, and process language fluently and accurately. It is not related to intelligence, but rather to how the brain processes written and spoken language. It can cause difficulty with phonemic awareness, which is the understanding that spoken language is made up of individual sounds. This can lead to challenges with decoding written words, spelling, and reading comprehension. Dyslexia affects individuals of all ages, intelligence levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. Some estimate its prevalence at a low 5-10% in children, hovering at a 10% rough count by the British Dyslexia Association and at similar levels elsewhere: it’s likely considerably more prevalent, because not everyone receives a diagnosis at any age, and because dyslexia doesn’t go away in adulthood.

Dyslexia symptoms of some kind appear in at least 15-20% of the population as a whole; the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity pins it at about 20% of the general population, which is somewhere between 80 to 90% of people diagnosed with a learning disability of some kind. As far as modern medicine and science can tell, dyslexia is the most common disorder based on neurocognitive disability, affecting a substantial portion of humanity, and it remains one of the most frequently encountered learning disabilities worldwide.

Common Dyslexia Challenges In Reading

Individuals with dyslexia often experience several common difficulties when reading:

  • Phonemic/Phonological Blocks
    Difficulty recognizing and manipulating the sounds that make up words.
  • Decoding Words
    Trouble with breaking down words into their component sounds, which makes reading slow and laborious.
  • Reading Fluency
    Struggling to read text smoothly and accurately, which slows down reading speed, disrupts comprehension, and lessens reading enjoyment.
  • Spelling Struggles
    Frequent spelling errors due to the difficulty in associating sounds with letters and letter patterns, leading to frustration in written communication.

The Importance of Assistive Tools for Dyslexia Reading Support

Assistive tools designed for dyslexia reading improvement and for greater ease in reading and writing provide supplemental assistance aimed at helping people with dyslexia achieve greater independence in reading and learning, with the end goal of creating a relaxed and successful approach and a more positive learning experience overall.

Aside from the practical benefits of these tools, with their many features such as grammar, spell checking and word prediction, which can significantly improve writing accuracy and efficiency, the help they provide with organization and proofreading tasks clears the way for people with dyslexia to express themselves more effectively.

Perhaps most importantly, assistive tools can boost confidence and self-esteem for people with dyslexia. By enabling them to read and write more independently and successfully, these tools give individuals with dyslexia the opportunity and the skills to participate fully in academic and professional settings. This leaves a lasting positive impression on their overall well-being, and cultivates a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Assistive tools are not a cure for dyslexia. They are, however, a powerful resource that can significantly improve the lives of individuals with this learning disability. By providing practical support with reading, writing, and communication, these tools imbue people with dyslexia with the ability, the tools and the belief in themselves they need to reach their full potential.

Dyslexia Reading Tools: Types & Categories

There are a variety of assistive tools and technologies available to support dyslexic readers. These tools can be broadly categorized into software, hardware, and physical aids. Each category offers unique benefits and can be a valuable resource for improving reading fluency and comprehension.

Software Tools

Software applications provide digital reinforcements for dyslexic readers. Some popular options include:

  1. Text-to-Speech (TTS) Software
    These programs convert written text into spoken audio, allowing readers to hear the text rather than decode it themselves. This helps users understand and process information more easily. Today, TTS programs are integrated into many other applications and devices. Popular TTS applications include NaturalReader, Kurzweil 3000, TextAloud, and Microsoft Reader.
  2. Speech-to-Text Software
    Programs like NaturallySpeaking can also help users write by converting spoken language into written text, reducing the strain of typing and spelling.
  3. Phonics-Based Programs
    These interactive programs teach phonics skills, helping readers understand the relationship between letters and sounds. Tools such as Nessy Reading and Spelling, Lexia Core5 and Reading A-Z can be useful in helping users, especially those young students, learn to decode words.
  4. Reading Comprehension Tools
    Software like Read&Write provides support features, including text-to-speech, dictionaries, and word prediction to aid in understanding and retaining information.
  5. Assistive Writing Programs
    These programs offer features like grammar and spell checking, word prediction, and voice dictation, which can benefit dyslexic readers who struggle with written expression. Examples include Grammarly, Ginger Writer, and Kurzweil 3000.
  6. Vocabulary Building Software
    These programs can help dyslexic readers expand their vocabulary through interactive games, exercises, and definitions. Some popular options include Vocabulary.com, IXL Learning, and Memrise.

Hardware Tools

Hardware devices can provide physical support for reading tasks. Some helpful tools include:

  1. E-Readers
    E-readers offer dyslexic readers several advantages, including adjustable font sizes and background color, customizable text styles, and the ability to look up unfamiliar words in a built-in dictionary. Devices like these reduce visual stress and improve readability. Popular e-readers include Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.
  2. Scanning Pens
    These handheld devices can scan printed text and read it aloud, helping users with immediate word recognition and comprehension, and offering dyslexic readers an alternative to traditional reading. Examples include C-Pen Reader, IRISPen Air, Scanmarker Air, and Claro.
  3. Digital Recorders
    Devices such as the Olympus Digital Voice Recorder allow users to record lectures or spoken notes, making it easier to review and understand complex information later.
  4. Smart Pens
    Tools like the Livescribe Echo Smartpen capture handwritten notes and audio simultaneously, providing a multisensory approach to learning and retaining information.
  5. Specialized Keyboards
    Ergonomic and otherwise customized keyboards can also improve comfort and typing accuracy for dyslexic individuals, some of whom may be uncomfortable using traditional keyboards.

Physical Tools

Physical aids offer tangible support for the reading process. These tools are often simple but highly effective in improving reading comfort and efficiency. Some examples include:

  1. Colored Overlays
    Colored overlays are transparent sheets placed on top of reading materials. Specific color tints can reduce visual stress and improve reading focus and comfort for some dyslexic readers. Examples include Dyslexia Solutions Overlays and Crossbow Education Reading Rulers.
  2. Reading Strips
    Reading strips are narrow pieces of paper or cardstock that help readers maintain focus on a single line of text, reducing distractions and the tendency to skip lines, and improving visual tracking. Examples are the EZC Reader Strips and Ashley Productions Highlight Strips.
  3. Finger Focus Highlighters
    Tools like the FingerFocus Highlighter help readers track text with a guided pointer, improving attention and accuracy.
  4. Tactile Letters & Words
    These are physical letters and words that can be touched and moved around to form words and sentences, improving phonemic awareness and spelling skills. Examples include Lauri Crepe Rubber Letters and Kenson Kids Sandpaper Letters.
  5. Weighted Vests & Lap Pads
    Deep pressure therapy from weighted vests or lap pads can provide a calming sensory experience that can improve focus and concentration for some dyslexic readers.

Is It Dyslexia, Distraction, Or Something Else?

It’s important to note that dyslexia has multiple other conditions that may overlap with it. An estimated 30% of people with dyslexia may also have co-occurring ADHD. ADHD and autism are both common overlapping developmental and cognitive conditions, and multiple issues with coordination and sensory sensitivities can often appear in tandem with dyslexia as well. What’s known is that these conditions may be related in ways that we don’t yet fully understand.

These conditions have different effects, they are diagnosed in different ways, and they don’t cancel each other out. But they can sometimes point to each other if the signs are recognized. If a child or adult diagnosed with dyslexia shows behavior that may correspond with ADHD or autism, or vice versa, it is worth testing for all possible overlap conditions to be sure that the individual can be more fully understood and supported.

So What’s My Best Dyslexia Reading Tool?

The best reading tools for anyone with dyslexia will vary depending on the individual's specific needs and learning style, and these needs may change with time. It is important to consider factors such as dyslexia type, the severity level of the dyslexia, overlapping conditions that may affect the usefulness of the tool, reading goals, and personal preferences when selecting tools. Many resources are available for free or at a low cost, allowing for affordable experimentation to find the most effective solutions.

Bottom line: by leveraging a combination of software, hardware, and physical tools, individuals with dyslexia can significantly improve their reading skills, making reading a more manageable and enjoyable activity. Each type of tool offers unique benefits, and together they provide comprehensive support for readers of all ages. To begin choosing the tools that work best for you, your students, or your family, read on.

Top Dyslexia Reading Tools for Adults

Adults with dyslexia face unique challenges that require effective and practical tools to improve their reading skills. Here are some specific tools that are particularly beneficial for adult users:

Kurzweil 3000
Text-to-Speech Software (TTS)

Tool Type Description
TTS tools can be very helpful for adults who struggle with decoding or fluency. Listening to text can boost comprehension and data retention. Many TTS programs have adjustable speeds, to customize reading pace by user preference.

And, some TTS software integrates with popular productivity tools, so users can convert documents, emails, and webpages into audio for easier access.

Tool Features
Kurzweil 3000 is an advanced text-to-speech software that converts written text into spoken words. It supports multiple languages and offers a comprehensive set of features, including text highlighting, dictionary support, and customizable reading speeds.

The software also includes tools for note-taking and summarizing, which are useful for adults in academic and professional settings.

Advantages for Adults
Kurzweil 3000’s robust features make it ideal for adults who need assistance with reading large volumes of text, whether for work or study.

Its integration with various document formats and the ability to annotate and highlight text make it a very practical and useful choice for adult users.

Other Useful Reading Tools for Adults

Some tools, like e-readers, especially when used with customized options, can also be very useful for adults with dyslexia, even if their original purpose was not intended to be assistive or disability-related.

For example, with adjustable font sizes and styles, e-readers can improve visual comfort and reading ease for people with dyslexia and for those with disabilities such as low vision or temporary impairments such as tired eyes. Some e-readers also allow users to customize text spacing and line margins, further reducing visual clutter and improving focus, which is helpful for readers with dyslexia, ADHD, and other conditions. Built-in dictionaries can provide quick access to word definitions, improving vocabulary development and comprehension. These and other customizable features allow adults with dyslexia to personalize their reading experience and optimize it for success.

Choosing the Best Dyslexia Reading Tools

Selecting the most effective reading tools for dyslexia requires careful consideration of individual needs and preferences. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing tools for yourself, your child, or your student:


  • Ease of Use
    The tool(s) you choose should be user-friendly and straightforward to navigate. Avoid overly complex tools; they can be frustrating and counterproductive. Look for tools with simple interfaces, clear instructions and intuitive features. As always, consider who will be using this tool and how comfortable they will be with it.
  • Accessibility & Compatibility
    Check if the tool is compatible with your preferred devices and operating systems, especially if you’re also using other assistive devices. Verify whether the tool includes features that make it accessible to users with different needs, such as text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and screen readers, and consider which of those needs is likely to arise for you or anyone you’re assisting.
  • Versatility
    Choose tools that can be used in various settings, such as at home, in school, or at work. Versatile tools can provide consistent support across different environments. And, keep portability in mind for tools intended for use outside the home or classroom.

Cost & Value

  • Tool Cost
    Consider the cost of the tool and whether it fits your budget. Some tools might offer more features at a higher price, so weigh the benefits against the cost.
  • Support & Training
    Check if the tool purchase or subscription comes with support and training resources. Is support and training included, or is that going to be a separate charge? Good support can help users maximize tool benefits and troubleshoot any issues.


  • Customization Options
    The ability to personalize settings is really important. Look for tools that allow adjustments to font size, style, spacing, and text color, for example, or variable reading speeds and voice options where relevant. Customization means you can set up the reading experience to fit your specific needs and preferences.
  • Free Trials & Demos
    Look for tools that offer trial periods or demos. Take advantage of these opportunities to test different tools and see which ones work best. This can help you evaluate whether the tool meets your needs before making a purchase.

Narrowing It Down

  • Feedback & Reviews
    Read reviews and look for feedback from other users: feedback is usually available online, but check with someone you know personally whenever possible, or talk to other users in forums. Reviews and comparison sites can also provide valuable insights into the tool’s effectiveness and potential issues, as well as a look at how it stacks up against similar tools.
  • Get Specific (If You Can)
    Go back over the specific challenges faced by the user and consider whether you have chosen the tools that most directly and effectively address those needs. For example, a student struggling with reading fluency might benefit from text-to-speech software, while someone with spelling difficulties might need phonics-based programs. However, each person is an individual and there are other factors to think about, like their comfort level with technology and more.

Remember, there is no single “best” tool for everyone with dyslexia.  The most effective solution will vary depending on the type and severity of the dyslexia, reading goals, and preferred learning style. Experiment with different possibilities to find the tools that provide the most significant improvements in reading fluency and comprehension. Be sure the tool effectively supports the user's reading development and daily needs. By carefully evaluating each option, you can find the most suitable tool for improving reading skills and overall learning outcomes.

Success Stories: Reading Tools Reframing Lives

Dyslexia reading tools can have a transformative impact on the daily activities and the long-term goals of individuals with dyslexia. Below are some examples of how these tools have made a difference. Please note that tools have been listed by function only, and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved:

  • Farrah: GPA Rising
    Farrah, a college student diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school, found reading textbooks and lengthy articles overwhelming. Text-to-speech software was a game-changer for her. “Listening to the text out loud lets me get the information so much more efficiently,” says Farrah. “It’s helped me keep up with my coursework, and I participate in class discussions all the time now. It's been a huge confidence booster.”
  • Nik: Looking Good At Work
    Nik, a 30-year-old human resources professional with dyslexia, struggled with proofreading emails and reports. Assistive writing software with grammar and spell checking features came to the rescue. “It helped me catch a lot of errors I would definitely have missed,” explained Michael. “Using these tools, I communicate more clearly in emails, and make a better impression on potential clients. My boss saw my numbers moving up, and I’m in line for a promotion I really didn’t expect.”

While these personal examples reflect the impact of reading tools for dyslexia support, it’s important to understand that people with dyslexia can and are successful in many different areas of life. Some people believe dyslexia may even boost other strengths, like big-picture thinking or visual-spatial skills. Studies have shown a connection between visual-spatial talent and processing differences, but it’s not clear whether these special skills are caused by or even directly related to dyslexia and reading struggles. There are many myths, perhaps, and some half-truths that sound pretty terrific. They might be true, or they might not. But without unrealistic positivity, and without idealizing the obstacles that dyslexia can throw into the path of people who have it, it’s fair to say that many people with dyslexia have been phenomenally successful, and if you are dyslexic, you can be, too. We aren’t going to all be Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, Florence Welch or Cher, but we can do even better. We can (and should) be ourselves, the selves that we want to be, without letting anyone discourage us or tell us that dyslexia is going to hold us back. It can’t. The stars are the limit.

As with so much in technology, the field of dyslexia reading tools for adults and children is constantly advancing, with new research and innovations offering promising possibilities for the future.

Emerging Technologies

Here's a glimpse into what's on the horizon:

AI Tutors & Assistants
AI-powered programs are being developed to personalize learning experiences for dyslexic readers. Using machine learning to adapt to the user's reading level and preferences, they can offer real-time feedback and provide targeted instruction and exercises to improve reading skills.
Artificial intelligence technology is also being integrated into reading tools to provide more personalized support for individuals with dyslexia.
These tools are currently in development and promise a more customized learning experience.

Augmented Reality (AR) Overlays
AR technology has the potential to overlay text with helpful features, such as definitions, synonyms, or phonemic breakdowns. This can improve comprehension and engagement with reading materials.

Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Applications
While still in early stages, BCI research holds promise for directly translating brain activity into spoken language. This technology involves using sensors to monitor brain activity and provide feedback to improve reading skills. Researchers are investigating the use of BCI to help individuals with dyslexia. While still in the experimental stage, BCI technology has the potential to revolutionize how reading difficulties are addressed. This could allow individuals with dyslexia to bypass the traditional reading process altogether.

Ongoing Research

Researchers are actively exploring new approaches:

Neuroscientific Studies on Dyslexia
Ongoing research in neuroscience is focusing on understanding the brain mechanisms underlying dyslexia. Studies are examining how different regions of the brain interact during reading and how this differs in individuals with dyslexia. This research aims to develop more targeted and more effective interventions based on a deeper understanding of the neurological basis of dyslexia.

Genetic Research
Scientists are exploring the genetic factors that contribute to dyslexia. By identifying specific genes associated with reading difficulties, researchers hope to develop targeted treatments and early intervention strategies. This research is still in its early stages but holds promise for more effective dyslexia support in the future.

Virtual Reality (VR) for Reading
VR is being tested as a tool to create immersive and distraction-free reading environments. Studies are evaluating how VR can help dyslexic individuals improve their focus and comprehension by providing a controlled and engaging setting for reading practice.

These upcoming technologies and ongoing research efforts represent the forefront of innovation in dyslexia reading tools. By leveraging advancements in AI, AR, BCI, and VR, by deepening our understanding of the genetic and neurological aspects of dyslexia, and by combining cognitive science with educational best practices, we can create optimal learning environments for dyslexic readers.

Scientists, medical professionals, educational experts and technology wizards are all teaming up to create a more hopeful outlook for readers with dyslexia, with one more goal in mind: making dyslexia reading tools more affordable and accessible to all. We can reasonably expect even more innovative solutions to emerge. The future holds promising developments that can tremendously improve reading support for individuals with dyslexia.

Moving Ahead, Tools In Hand

Choosing the right tools to support individuals with dyslexia can significantly impact their reading abilities and overall learning experience, redirecting their approach to reading and learning, and changing their lives. We've explored a range of tools, including software, hardware, and physical aids, each offering unique features to meet diverse needs. Text-to-speech software, scanning pens, and colored overlays are just a few examples of how technology and simple solutions can aid dyslexic readers.

By carefully considering factors such as ease of use, accessibility, and customization, it is possible to find the tools that best suit each person’s specific challenges. Selecting tools that align with the user's needs is key to effectively addressing issues in reading fluency and comprehension.

We encourage readers to explore the various tools mentioned in this article, and find what works best for them and the people they care for. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or an individual with dyslexia, discovering the right tools can transform the reading experience. With ongoing advancements in technology and continuous research, the future holds even more hope for real solutions that support dyslexic readers in achieving their full potential.


Where can I learn more about dyslexia?

There are many resources available. Yale offers a popular free online course called Overcoming Dyslexia.

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