What is Ear Reading and How Can it Help Someone with Dyslexia?


What is ear reading?



What is Ear Reading and How Can it Help Someone with Dyslexia?


According to the International Dyslexia Association, ear reading is defined as reading using audiobooks or similar text-to-speech software. Instead of the written word taken soley through the eyes, the verbal words are processed through the ears and eyes simultaneously and then processed in the brain.



What is eye reading?

The International Dyslexia Association defines eye reading as the traditional learning of letter identification and rhyming, and then learning how the individual sounds join to form words and those words that form sentences and so on. This reading is processed soley through the eyes.


How Can Ear Reading Help Someone with Dyslexia?


  • Builds Fluency – Many students with dyslexia struggle with fluency. Ear reading helps model reading rate, intonation, and prosody with either human voices or digital voices. This is ONE of the strategies I employ for fluency training.


  • Saves Time – Many novels or reading material that children with dyslexia are required to read are too difficult. Assistive technology may help the individual complete reading material at the same rate as their classmates.



  • Builds comprehension- It allows the individual to access and comprehend school related material that they may not be able to do independently.


  • Motivation and Enjoyment- There is so much cognitive overload that someone with dyslexia experiences while decoding and trying to make sense of a passage. Ear reading can alleviate the pressure while allowing the enjoyment of a story.


  • Builds Confidence- When a child builds fluency, comprehension, and keeps up with their peers, they feel successful.


What are Some Resources for Ear Reading?


  • Kindle – is a form of an E- Reader designed and marketed by Amazon. Amazon Kindle devices enable users to browse, buy, download, and read e-books, newspapers, magazines, and other digital media. When I first started investigating ear reading I bought my son a Kindle and downloaded books. He really enjoyed reading along on his new E-reader
  • Learning Ally – is a non-profit organization that provides dyslexia support through audiobooks. They offer over 80,000 books that are recorded with a human voice. They are an excellent provider for people who have dyslexia.
  • Audiobooks 
  • Audible Audible is a subsidiary of Amazon. It sells and produces digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers.
  • Books on CD– Do you remember listening to books on a record or tape while following along to read? (I think I have just shown my age here) I loved it! It made me feel like I was really reading and I could keep up with the pace of the reader. Waterstones and Amazon offer a number of titles paired with CD’s.
  • Bookshare – Another site that offers audiobooks.
  • Text to speech apps These apps are great not only for books but also for reading emails, articles, etc.


Not sure which one to choose?


Check out Top Ten Reviews and decide for yourself! My personal favorite is Learning Ally, Kindle, and CD Books.


A Word of Caution!


Ear Reading should not replace eye reading! There are many great assistive technology options available, however, it should not replace the importance of:

  • systematic, explicit phonics instruction/phonemic awareness, like the OG approach.
  • explicit teaching of comprehension strategies.
  • one on one connection that a child and parent or student have together
  • word attack solutions (decoding)
  • spelling
  • vocabulary and concepts


Another word of caution: Machines cannot replace human interaction and teaching. We need to provide a balance of both. We also need to ensure that the technology is working for your child or student. My son really enjoyed ear reading for awhile and now prefers to read on his own. What will work for one child, may not work for another.



Balancing Ear Reading and Eye Reading (October 2015)

Learning Ally




OGOA Blog writer, Marcy McIver has a Bachelor of Education in Special Education and a MSc in Brain Based Learning. She has been teaching for 15 years and has spent the last three years providing remedial intervention to children with dyslexia. She is passionate about helping students with various learning differences and how to better support this population using cognitive neuroscience to maximize motivation and learning. 

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