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Introduction to SLTR

The purpose of this short course is to provide you with the background knowledge you need to make effective use of e-reader devices to support students who struggle to read. Through this course you will develop an understanding of the research behind a method for reading called “Span Limited Tactile Reinforcement” (SLTR). SLTR is a reading method, and here you will learn how this method can be implemented on e-reader devices.

Section Learning Goals

Learn to recognize “attentional dyslexia” and distinguish this from other forms of dyslexia.

Learn the underlying principles of the SLTR reading method.

Learn how to configure e-reader devices to help people with attentional dyslexia.

Supporting Phonological Decoding with SLTR

It has been known for some time that people with dyslexia have difficulty with phonological processing, the ability to know how the visual components of the written word (graphemes) correspond with their spoken counterparts (phonemes). For example, understanding that “phone” and “fone” sound alike requires an understanding of the phonological rules for the English language. People with dyslexia appear to have difficulty mastering these rules, and as consequence their reading is laborious and slow, and learning is often compromised.

Many excellent programs of remediation have been developed to help people with dyslexia improve the efficiency of their phonological processing, and thus improve reading fluency. Among these (but certainly not all) are the Orton-Gillingham-based Interventions, Wilson Reading Systems, Fast ForWord, Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing, and so on. Many of these programs are described and evaluated at the IES What Works Clearinghouse. Generally, these programs of remediation include drill and practice with the rules of phonology, along with other supports to help promote reading. Research has shown that such interventions can often be very helpful for people with dyslexia, and that many lead to substantial improvements in reading skills.

Using SLTR to Augment Traditional Treatments of Dyslexia

The SLTR reading methods you will learn about here are intended to work hand-in-hand with these traditional remedial methods, to augment approaches to reading proffciency commonly used in the treatment of dyslexia. As such, SLTR does not replace the methods you are likely familiar with, and perhaps use in your practice. Instead, as you will learn in more detail later, SLTR is intended to address an aspect of dyslexia related to deficits in visual attention that often accompany dyslexia, that are generally untreated by the traditional phonological approaches to treatment.

Helping those with visual attention deficits.

Research suggests that anywhere from 30% to 50% of all people with dyslexia have serious impairments with visual attention, and these act to impede reading through mechanisms that are independent of those related to phonology. Thus, while SLTR will only be marginally helpful for students who have unremediated phonological difficulties, the converse is also true: Those with dyslexia who have visual attention deficits can only improve so far, before the visual attention deficits become the limiting factor. As a consequence, unless the visual attention deficits are somehow addressed, such individuals will reach a plateau in their treatment and cease to improve with practice, until the visual attention deficits are supported. SLTR is a method for helping these individuals address their difficulties with visual attention. You will learn more about this as you work through the course.

Effective in conjunction with other programs.

When SLTR is used in conjunction with a high-quality program of remediation that teaches phonological skills, many students are likely to benefit more than if they were exposed to either of these programs alone. In this respect, SLTR can be seen as a remediation method that augments the approaches you may be using now. However, many people, especially older individuals who are already practiced in skills for phonological decoding, may benefit, and improve their abilities for reading, through use of SLTR by itself. Given that virtually no training is required for readers to make use of SLTR, and the benefits are immediately preceived (or not), we advocate that people with dyslexia simply try the method for themselves to see if it helps, and if so use it as part of their regular programs of reading.



How SLTR is Implemented

The key to SLTR is to read text in a narrow window that displays only two or three words per line. SLTR is easily implemented on many e-readers and smartphones, and is demonstrated in the QuickStart Guide and in the Introduction of the ReadEasy site. Readers advance the text manually, by flipping or scrolling the text upwards. The optimal configuration will vary according to personal preference and the nature of the content presented. For example, difficult reading material (e.g., a scientific paper) may require fewer words per line, and smaller pages that are scrolled, while more familiar reading material (e.g., a thriller novel) may be better displayed with more words per line, with pages that are flipped.





We will delve into these issues when the SLTR configurations are described in more detail, later.



Schneps, M. H., OKeeffe, J. K., Heffner-Wong, A., & Sonnert, G. (2010). Using Technology to Support STEM Reading. Journal of Special Education Technology, 25(3), 21–32. Download PDF

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