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Word Identification Aids

*Please note that word identification aid is the term used as an aid to support reading, whereas handheld spellchecker and dictionary is the term used when using the same device as an aid to support writing and spelling.

Word Identification aids are easy to use, low cost assistive technology solutions that provide text-to-speech support for students who have difficulty decoding the words presented on the page. When students encounter an unknown word while reading, they can type it into the device and have it read to them. Using this method allows the students to read at their own pace and without having to ask for word identification support from peers or teachers. Keep in mind that these devices are available in both speaking and non-speaking versions. Generally, the speaking word identification aid is the one used to aid students with identification of unknown vocabulary.

One word identification aid that is available for elementary school age students is the Children’s Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector (Franklin Electronic Publishers). It has 44,000 words. For older students, the Merriam-Webster Speaking Dictionary and Thesaurus (Franklin Electronic Publishers) has 120,000 words and the Speaking Language Master (Franklin Electronic Publishers) has 130,000 words. Each device is capable of speaking the word typed in and when used with headphones can provide the text-to-speech feedback to the user without any classroom disruption. All of the devices have additional features available such as a handwriting guide, confusables/homophones, word building activities and phonetic spell correctors that support both reading and writing skills. These devices are all from Franklin Electronic Publishers and can be purchased directly from Franklin or from numerous vendors.

This type of technology is appropriate for students who can read the majority of the words in a reading sample. Students with significant reading and/or writing difficulties may require more sophisticated reading and/or writing solutions.


 Resource Name Web Address
National Reading Styles Institute
Go to Go to Parents, colored overlays
The Irlen Institute
Go to Go to See Sample Distortions
Reading by the Colors by Helen Irlen
See It Right
Go to Research


 Vendor Name Web Address
See It Right
National Reading Styles Institute (NRSI)
Highlighting Tape (Chrystal Springs Books)