I am not afraid to say this because, like so many other people in the world, I am a slow reader. I am a slow reader, but also have a language-based learning difference, which makes it hard for me to decode languages. When reading something, I'm often slow, impatient and resort to skimming rather than actually reading. When I was in high school, my school began offering what it called the 1-1 Laptop Program, where each student and teacher was given a laptop for academic use. These laptops were loaded with software that would help each student become a better reader and writer. Enter Read&Write Gold, a computer program designed for students like me with struggles in decoding language.
Last fall, I was gearing up for my first year and got tasked with applying for accommodations at Conn, which included the use of my software. I had used my software to have tests read to me, but also books. I was approved for the accommodation to use my computer and had to explain the software to my coordinators at the Student Accessibility Office. In a sense, I was becoming a teacher in my own right.
A year later, I received an email from Noel Garrett, the dean of Academic Support and the director of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), about having me instruct students and faculty on how to use the software. I met with Noel and Lillian Liebenthal from Student Accessibility Services to create a handbook, but also to set up “Office Hours” for my tutoring at the ARC. We agreed on two sessions a week with students gaining a referral from both offices. Since that meeting, I have met with about eight students who have told me that the software has made a major impact in their academic lives. We are now working on making Read&Write Gold accessible in other languages, allowing language to be decoded and not just skimmed. That is the thing no one tells you about learning a language, let alone a computer program: It’s all in the teacher who instructs you. I want to be a good teacher and, with a little work, I know I can get there.