by Jamie Martin
You may have noticed a little friendly competition between Apple and Google, the technology giants who are in constant battle to be King of the Hill. During his keynote presentations, Apple’s Tim Cook often jabs at the adoption rate of new versions of Android compared to those of iOS. Google’s inexpensive and versatile Chromebooks are steadily taking over the school market, which once seemed ripe for widespread iPad adoption. Currently, the Apple Watch has slipped past Google Glass as the most intriguing device in the wearables category. The back-and-forth of tech dominance can be dizzying and difficult to follow.
While the debate over which company holds the crown continues, one thing is for certain: The rivalry has been a boon for students with dyslexia. During the past decade, assistive technology (AT) has increasingly become the great academic equalizer for students with language difficulties, and Apple and Google are currently leading the charge. Their strong desire to outdo each other has led each to produce great technology with enough available AT to make them invaluable resources for the dyslexic community. The truth is that if you are a student who has difficulty reading and writing, you can look to either company for helpful accommodations. Better yet, you can study the vast menu of AT options on Mac desktop computers, Chromebooks, iOS devices, and Android devices, and select the combination of tools that will work best for you.
At one time, the best assistive technology for students with dyslexia could only be found on desktop computers. Software like Dragon Dictate, Inspiration, and Read&Write Gold could turn an iMac or a MacBook into a powerful machine for reading and writing. Then Apple started to integrate accessibility features, such as text-to-speech and dictation, into its desktop operating system, OS X. Today, the combination of accessibility tools and available third-party software allow a Mac computer to be a great option for dyslexic students.
Some families and many school districts are, however, prohibited from adopting Macs due to their high price tag. In those cases, less expensive computers, particularly Chromebooks that run on Google’s Chrome OS, have become an attractive alternative. Schools and individual students can find an array of AT-related extensions and apps that can assist with academic tasks involving reading and writing. In fact, well-known assistive technology companies like Texthelp and Don Johnston, Inc. have started developing Chrome versions of their most popular technologies. Read&Write for Google, Co:Writer Universal, and Snap&Read Universalare all considered essential Chrome tools for dyslexic students. They also integrate nicely with Google Apps for Education, which many schools have adopted as their go-to learning platform.
Martin, Jamie. “Apple vs. Google: The Real Winners Are Students with Dyslexia.” Forbes Education. June 8, 2015.