Teacher Reveals 23 Essential Low-Tech & EdTech Ideas for Neurodivergent Students

15-20% of the population wrestles with language-based learning disabilities. Sometimes all they need are old-fashioned tweaks; other times, technology is transformative.

Sometimes small tweaks are all you need, and sometimes new tech can be transformative.

15-20% of the population wrestles with language-based learning disabilities. Over time, this obstacle becomes a formidable roadblock, hindering growth in all other subjects. And it’s why 80-85% of children with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) have difficulty reading.

The issues start young. A staggering 40% of elementary-age students across the United States are unable to meet basic reading standards.

But there’s hope. As a teacher, I have witnessed the relentless efforts of students and families in their quest for improved reading skills. Together, we tirelessly sought resources to make reading easier.

Now, I’m excited to share with you a curated collection of proven best practices and tools that can be implemented anytime, anywhere. Some are high-tech, others low-tech, but all hold incredible promise.

Low-Tech Techniques

Let’s begin with the low-tech (or no-tech) ideas. As a parent or teacher, sometimes the most transformative changes don’t require downloading another app. It’s about setting expectations and presenting material in new ways. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Pre-teach new concepts and vocabulary before encountering them in context.
  • Frequently check for understanding, provide feedback, and offer encouragement.
  • Allow extra time (15% to 50%) for completing assignments or tasks at home.
  • Provide instructions in both spoken and written formats.
  • Break down assignments into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Offer notes, outlines, or graphic organizers to support comprehension and organization.
  • Share models of correct and complete work.
  • Encourage diverse ways for students to demonstrate understanding and mastery.

Increasing Accessibility in Digital Spaces

Next, let’s explore how to enhance accessibility in digital spaces. Digital accessibility is not only important—it’s the law! So, ensure your handouts or webpages have the ability to be read in “plain text,” or, more preferably, pass this quick accessibility check:

  • Utilize readable fonts such as sans serif, size 12-14 (e.g., Calibri size 12 offers a balance of accessibility and visual appeal).
  • Use dark text on a light, single-color background.
  • Avoid reds, pinks, and greens for color blindness.
  • Emphasize key points using bold instead of underlining or italics.
  • Incorporate headings, numbering, and bullet points.
  • Increase white space, letter spacing, and line spacing.
  • Employ images to support text, especially graphs and flowcharts that simplify complex ideas.

For a deeper dive into dyslexia-friendly style guidelines, I recommend exploring the Dyslexia-friendly Style Guide published by the British Dyslexia Association. Larger organizations may also benefit from accessiBe’s best-in-class suite of AI-powered ADA compliance tools and services.

Reading and Writing Ed Tech Tools That Make A Difference

Now, let’s delve into the cutting-edge world of reading and writing edtech tools that can make a real difference. Many of these top tools for supporting students with dyslexia and other reading/writing challenges are driven by artificial intelligence. And, wow! Do they make a difference.

If you aren’t using this technology with your child or students, you need to start today:

Digitized Texts:

In contrast with hard copy forms, digitized texts are dynamic and ready to interface with other tools and technologies. Bookshare’s largest-in-class library of digitized texts is free for qualifying students, low-cost for qualifying adults, and–with over 1.2 million texts and counting–enables readers to “find virtually any book they need for school, work, or the joy of reading.”


Learning Ally is in over 21,000 schools and works with over 2,000,000 students. Their Audiobook Solution enables readers to track highlighted text on a screen while listening to a fluent narration. Benefits include enhanced comprehension and vocabulary building, improved confidence and class participation, reductions in reading time, and growing reading independence.

Interactive Textbooks and Lessons:

Prof Jim’s AI-driven solution can take any text, scan it, and immediately transform it into an interactive, fully narrated experience. Prof Jim videos include closed-captioning, cinema-quality 3D animations, and adaptive assessments, with built-in tracking for teachers for progress. Teachers can also quickly create their own lessons simply by prompting Prof Jim’s generative AI and making a few edits and final selections. The possibilities are truly endless. Our favorites right now, though, are a 3D, interactive model of a beating heart.


These tools convert text into accessible spoken audio. Leaders in the field like NaturalReader enable readers to interact in a more supported way with literally any text, digital or hard copy. Much of this flexibility comes from advancements in AI, including AI-generated voices, an AI Smart Filter that eliminates distracting content, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which uses artificial intelligence to translate hard copy texts into digital or audio formats. Many users are also big fans of ReadSpeaker’s suite of text-to-speech tools, which includes interactive dictionaries, page masking to bring out lines of text being read by shading out the rest, and saved settings that enable readers to automatically apply their favorite font, size, and color palette to the screen.

Writing Assistants:

While these tools are often overlooked, difficulty with reading often translates into challenges with writing, so it’s hard to understate the positive impact writing assistive technologies can have once in place. Parents and children alike rave about Co:Writer for its AI-driven features like speech-to-text, word predictions, support for flexible spelling, and suite of built-in responsive and topical dictionaries. The Read&Write toolbar, meanwhile, works discreetly with a variety of OS/browsers and offers both reading and writing assistance, with unique features including reading level and page contrast adjustments, a picture dictionary, and explanations and help when checking writing that goes beyond just checking words to truly develop skills and learning.

Artificial Intelligence That Makes A Difference

Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a significant role in leveling the playing field and supporting our most vulnerable and neurodivergent students. While low-tech and no-tech supports remain essential, AI-driven assistive technologies can supercharge students’ access to and enjoyment of education.

By leveraging decades of research and innovation in educational technology, we support the 1 in every 5 students that struggle with dyslexia or another language-based learning difference.

We hope this curated round-up of tips and tech tools supports you in your own journey as a parent or teacher. With the right tools, we’re confident that your struggling reader or writer will feel more seen, engaged, and empowered.

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