Technology seemingly improves every day. Consequently, we, as educators, must keep abreast of the current innovations. One such program seems to be a leading player in helping the struggling readers interact with interesting, relevant and challenging texts. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides flexible, digital textbooks and curricular materials, thereby giving all students access to the general curriculum (Gordon, 2002). The UDL was established under the guidance of the following premise. Since the abilities of struggling learners vary so greatly in every classroom, technology might be utilized to accommodate these differences (Gordon, 2002).

The UDL program  addresses three learning regions of the brain: first, recognition (letters, decoding sound, words, and objects), next, strategies (spelling, playing a musical instrument, using sequential steps to solve a problem, comprehending the text, etc.), and finally the affective system which produces a feeling in response to engaging in those patterns (Gordon, 2002). The software produced by the UDL also addresses multiple learning styles and these inherent modalities help not only the struggling student in general, but dyslexic students, as well as those with low vision, poor auditory skills and other challenge (Gordon, 2002).

One digital text in particular, the Thinking Reader, allows students the opportunity to engage interesting texts that are relevant to their lives. As such, it offers a new environment in which struggling students can experience success (Gordon, 2002). Specifically, as the software program unfolds, and the child begins to read the text, the computer highlights each word on a screen as it simultaneously reads it aloud (Gordon, 2002). The definition of each word is only a click of the mouse away (Gordon, 2002). Interactive prompts urge the learners to summarize, predict, question and clarify. An electronic journal, located at the bottom of the screen, will help the teacher to assess the learning that has taken place. As the students progress through the program the teacher circulates, lending support to their endeavors. Afterwards, the students will meet with the teacher off-line and take turns leading the group in a discussion of the book (Gordon, 2002).

Some of the more interesting iterations of UDL include:  Write Outloud, a talking word processor that gives immediate audio feedback as the student types (Cunningham & Allington, 2007). Another cutting-edge program is Draft Builder. This format enables the student to organize ideas through a variety of visual graphic organizers and story maps in order to connect and expand their writing ideas. The visual instruction is accompanied by an audio feed (Cunningham & Allington, 2007). 


h g