Education Equity

Dyslexia Doesn’t Slow Down Florida Student

Ryan is in eighth grade at Swift Creek Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida. In first grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He’d read the same sentence over and over, and every time it was like he was encountering brand new words. As he got older, his learning disability made it difficult for him to keep up in school and enjoy the books that his friends were reading. With a second grade reading level, books like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series were out of reach. Ryan’s mother, Tippi, spent a great deal of time reading aloud to Ryan.

A teacher introduced Ryan to Bookshare in sixth grade. Ryan is primarily an auditory learner, so listening to text-to-speech narration is the most effective way for him to learn and allows him to read books at his comprehension level as opposed to his reading level. He downloads books from Bookshare onto a computer, transfers them to iTunes, and reads on his iPad and iPhone. Ryan uses Bookshare for his in-class reading as well as teacher-assigned reading at home. When he has free reading time in class he listens to books, including Frankenstein. He finished Hatchet before anyone else in the class, and the teacher told him not to tell anyone what happens. Ryan says he is used to the digital voices and appreciates that there are a wide variety to choose from.

“I wish someone had told us about Bookshare earlier and that using audiobooks is not a cop out. By listening to books Ryan enjoys, it has given him the confidence to try reading those books. He recognizes words in print because he has heard them used in audiobooks.” —Tippi, Ryan's Mother

Since becoming a Bookshare member, Ryan has read fifty books. This is a huge accomplishment for him. When the school challenged students to read all fifteen books on the Sunshine State Young Readers list for grades 6-8, there was no way Ryan could read the books at that level on his own. Fortunately, all the books were available on Bookshare, so Ryan downloaded them and read half on the list. “Ryan is halfway through eighth grade, and he has already read 35 books. Without Bookshare, he wouldn’t read,” says Tippi. Ryan still has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), but he no longer requires reading remediation. Next year in high school he plans to enroll in honors English. Ryan received an award at school because he never gave up on any assignment and always showed he cared about his schoolwork. Bookshare allowed him to leverage his strengths and perform up to his potential.

Learn more about Ryan on the Bookshare blog.