The Perfect Marriage: Orton-Gillingham and Assistive Technology
Some people say that opposites attract. In recent years, scientific studies have attempted to disprove that theory, but I am here to declare that in the world of dyslexia, it is absolutely true. It is widely accepted that the Orton-Gillingham approach is a remedial strategy and that assistive technology is a set of compensatory tools. Remediation vs. accommodation; two different ways to help dyslexic students learn. Unfortunately, there are still some educators who believe that students can only delve into one at a time, that O-G and technology don’t mix. During the last five years, I have seen quite the opposite. Kids who have made steady progress in their language skills have been able to use AT more effectively, and those who have been trained to use AT have been able to focus on higher-level language skills such as reading comprehension and essay writing in the O-G tutorial. In my experience, they go hand in hand in giving dyslexics the best path toward academic success.
I first wrote about this topic in an article called, “At Its Best, Assistive Technology Complements Remediation,” which the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) was kind enough to publish in their parent e-newsletter, Dyslexia Connection. In the piece, I outlined the specific ways in which language remediation and assistive technology work together in the education of dyslexic students. Since that article was written, two books have been published that lend support to what I see on a daily basis. I am happy to know that Brock and Fernette Eide and Ben Foss, respected leaders in the field of dyslexia education, also believe that a two-pronged approach, combining language remediation and assistive technology, is the way to get the most out of dyslexic students.
In The Dyslexic Advantage, the Eides discuss various ways in which assistive technology and language remediation can help dyslexics’ reading and writing skills, and they point to the work that Landmark College is doing in terms of successfully introducing AT and remediation concurrently. They say, “We wish every school would take this more balanced and flexible view of assistive technologies like recorded books and text-to-speech software – particularly for students who are still working to improve their decoding and reading fluency skills. This two-pronged approach gives students with dyslexia the same opportunities to expand their general knowledge base, enrich their vocabulary, and improve their other high-level literacy skills that other students already enjoy” (Eide 167). In his book, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, Ben Foss shares a similar view. In his opinion, “the best path to learning for dyslexic children is to use an Orton-Gillingham-based reading method … after having been identified, while simultaneously employing the best accommodation technologies” (Foss 182). What I like best about Foss’s discussion of language remediation and assistive technology is that he includes both in the same chapter titled, “A Tool Kit of Accommodations,” implying that they do, indeed, work together to help students with dyslexia.
Of course, both books contain much broader discussions of dyslexia and should be read in full, but I appreciate the authors’ enlightened views that remediation and assistive technology are not at odds with each other. They should not be thought of as remediation vs. accommodation. Rather, they are on the same team, making the education of dyslexics a more complete and enriching experience. In their case, opposites do attract to make a perfect marriage.
Mr. Jamie P. Martin
Monday September, 2 at 08:50AM
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