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Reading has always been my escape as well as my hobby, my education as well as my entertainment and inspiration. I am a book junkie! But there are people who struggle with reading.
I have dyslexia in my family and I have friends with children who are dyslexic. I usually point them towards Richard Branson, as an example of becoming successful despite the challenge. But I have always felt a particular pain at the struggle to read.
Today I have an article from James Nuttall, a psychologist who is also dyslexic, about how ebooks have transformed his own reading and his passion for helping others.
While growing up, I knew that I had a reading problem.
During elementary school and upper grades, I struggled to read. I was basically a non-reader. While in the upper grades I read John Steinbeck's The Red Pony and George Orwell's Animal Farm. The only two books that I read cover to cover.
Every day, I watched my family read books, magazines and newspapers. I longed to do the same.
When I went away to the university, I visited the University of Chicago Reading Clinic. At this clinic I learned that I had dyslexia. While in the university I had other students read all my books and library research to me. I persevered with my studies and earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Michigan State University.
After leaving the university and without readers, I again was not able to read very much. Then technology improved so I was able to scan print books onto my computer and turn them into audiobooks for myself. I liked using ABBY FineReader OCR software to digitize print books and Nextup's TextAloud to turn the digitized books into mp3 audiobooks. In this way I was able to read books that interested me. I often like to read books on technology, the information age, and the sociology of economics.
For many years e-books were very marginal. But in December 2007 Amazon launched their Kindle e-reader.
Amazon made hundreds of thousands of e-books available for their Kindle. In February 2009 Amazon came out with the Kindle 2 with built-in text-to-speech which could read books aloud. Fortunately, now the Kindle Store has over two million books available and 99% of the Kindle e-books are enabled to be read aloud with text-to-speech. Text-to-speech is a computerized voice which can read text aloud. These voices today sound just like real people reading aloud. I particularly like the voices that are build into the Kindle Fire.
I have both an Apple iPad and a Kindle Fire. Since these tablets can read aloud, I now have millions of books available to me to read. Additionally through the internet every day, I read e-magazines and e-newspapers.
My tablets allow me to fulfill my childhood dream of sitting in my easy chair and reading books and newspapers just like any other person.
It is a miracle to visit the Kindle bookstore and to buy an e-book and to start reading.
For a person like myself, who must read everything in digital format, having millions of digital books is exciting news. I have spent the majority of my life locked out of the book world. With my Kindle Fire, I now have the world of print available to me.
My book Dyslexia and the Kindle Fire Overcoming Dyslexia with Technology talks more about this topic and there is also a companion volume for the iPad.
Fortunately, young dyslexic readers will never know the anxiety of not reading.
My final word is, “bring on the books!”
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Typography jumble by Bill Dickinson