Talk-to-text, Ebooks and other ways dyslexic students are beating the odds

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 11-year-old Max Chmel struggles with reading and writing. He has severe dyslexia.

"It's like I am seeing it, but I am just not seeing it right," said Max. "It's just really hard to read and write."

"It's been hard, it's been really hard," said Jennifer Chmel, Max's mother. "We knew since before kindergarten that he wasn't learning like his twin sister.

For many years, Max struggled at school.

Not anymore.

"This year (Max) tested above average," Jennifer said.

Max is doing homework, writing essays and getting his learning in other ways.

"At school, I have a Chromebook and that's where they put all my homework. It will read it to me out loud," Max said. 

Max also uses talk-to-text to write essays and audio books to get his reading done.

It has helped him unlock his true intelligence.

"A big difference, it has changed everything," said Max.

Now more than ever, students, teachers, parents and even adults struggling with dyslexia, are taking advantage of these tools.

"Where I have really seen a change has been in the amount of awareness in the public and how willing people are to try and find the solutions," said Rachel Libick, the owner of Applied Learning Processes. 

Libick says smartphones and computers are helping dyslexics through features like talk-to-text and the ability to play audiobooks.

"What that does is says, you can learn this, you can listen to the material and you don't have to work four times as hard as everyone else," Libick says. "This shows them that dyslexia has nothing to do with intellegence."

Even the public library is seeing more people in general take advantage of their streaming services that can also help dyslexics.

"One of the best resources we have is through our streaming services. Our e-books our audio books, etc," said Courtney Lewis, the spokesperson for the Kansas City Public Library.  "Whether its on CD or whether you do go into the streaming services and you listen on your headphones or in your car, it's a great way for patrons with dyslexia to get the same enjoyment out of reading with out of frustration."

In fact, in 2017 the library had more than 6,000 people sign up for streaming services, far surpassing numbers for the previous year.

Whether it's utilizing the library or your smartphone, many dyslexics are finding that they have more options to learn on their terms.

Students like Max no longer let dyslexia define him.

"My self esteem has just gone up, I don't know, I have just opened up more about it," Max said.

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