Dictionary Apps to Support LD

Dictionary Apps to Support LD

Dictionary pic

I love dictionary apps on mobile devices. They provide spelling and word look up on demand. For individuals with reading and spelling challenges it can provide immediate access to spelling or definitions using the integrated voice recognition tools within apps or on the keyboard of iPad 3 or 4 for those with good articulation and Internet connectivity to search for a word. This can be a great tool for spelling searches and pronunciations for some individuals.

A recent evaluation identified the need of an individual to be able to access terms, hear  audio pronunciation of a word, and listen to definitions read aloud. Creating a word list that could be alphabetized for quick reference would also be important due to significant literacy challenges.  Due to the setting which it would be used, Wi-Fi may not be available requiring offline availability of the features.

Which of the dictionary apps might offer such features for the individual?

The search ensued comparing apps features and what features were available on and offline and on what device. A few standard dictionary apps were not reviewed due to lack of free versions and cost*. There often seems to be minor differences between iPhone/iPad app features so trialing each one and the following features was needed:

  • Audio Pronunciation (text to speech does not always provide accurate pronunciation)
  • Availability of audio pronunciation on and offline
  • Favorites list feature with sorting alphabetically or filing system for organized search capabilities
  • Definitions can be read aloud using Speak Selection feature (available in Settings>Accessibility>Speak Selection> On)
  • Definitions should be easy to understand and also provide basic medical terms

Although there may be more apps that provides some of the above features, the following dictionary apps were chosen to compare due to their multiple feature match:

Dictionary App
General Dictionary Features
Audio tool to pronounce word available?
Can definitions be read aloud (with TTS – Select Text)?
Can “Favorite” Word List be created?
Online or Offline Audio Pronunciation Available?
Merriam Webster App
iPod,iPad, Android;
Free version, upgrades available
Integrated Speech to text search tool;
225,000 definitions; Wildcard search
Yes, Audio pronunciation available
(requires Wi-Fi )
Yes, Text can be selected, copied and spoke aloud using Speak Selection (Settings>Accessibility option)
Yes; Create Favorite list; No sort capabilities
Audio available only Online (Internet connection)
Dictionary.Com App
iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android; 
Free version
Speech to text search; more than 1,000,000 definitions; Wildcard search
Yes, Audio pronunciation available (requires Wi-Fi)
Definitions link; unable to copy or use Speak Selection (Settings>Accessibility option) to read definitions
Yes, create Favorite list, no sorting capabilities with list
Audio available Online and Offline
Word Web Audio Dictionary App 
iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android;
Audio version: 3.99
No speech to text search; 225,000 definitions extensive setting options; Wildcard search
Yes, Audio pronunciation available without Wi-Fi
Yes, Text can be selected, copied and spoke aloud using Speak Selection  (Settings>Accessibility option)
Yes, Creation of Favorites List; Alphabetical Sort of Favorite Word
Audio available Online and Offline
Cambridge Audio Dictionary App 
iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android
Audio Version 16.99
170,000 definitions
No integrated speech to text search; Study tools available
Yes, Audio Pronunciation available without Wi-Fi
Definitions link; unable to copy or use Speak Selection (Settings>Accessibility option) to read definitions
Allows creating folders, Alphabetical sort of Favorite Words
Audio Pronunciation Online and Offline
The Free Dictionary – Farley App
iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android;
Free; Upgrade 1.99
Extensive dictionary with easy to understand definitions; Wildcard search
Yes, Audio Pronunciation available with Wi-Fi
Yes, Text can be selected, copied and spoke aloud using Speak Selection (Settings>Accessibility option)
No Favorite Word List available
Audio Pronunciation available Online

Reviewing the features my dictionary app choices, the Word Web Dictionary App  provides all of the features needed:

  •  Offline audio pronunciation
  • Ability to select the definition and use Speak Selection feature to listen to the definitions
  • The dictionary word list  is extensive and provides a variety of standard and medical terms.
  • Creation of a “Favorites” word list which has a sort feature that automatically alphabetizes the list.
  • Additional settings in Word Web Dictionary providing options of text size, turning on and off text linking to enable definitions to be read aloud and what features you want displayed with the definition.
  • Copy to clipboard is available to copy the word and definition to other sources.

At 3.99 Word Web Dictionary app is a bargain with its accessibility options. Although it does not have a speech to text search tool, for those using a iPad 3/4, use of the voice recognition tool in the keyboard allows searching for words by voice with Wi-Fi connectivity.

For a review of other dictionary apps for individuals with LD visit a previous post Dictionary Apps for LD – #1.

* American Heritage Dictionary, Longman’s Dictionary

What are your favorite dictionary apps for individuals with reading and writing challenges?


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in Adults with LD, Android, App Reviews, Apps for Special Needs, Dictionary app, Free apps, High School, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Learning Disability, Middle School, Occupational Therapy, Post secondary, Reference, Spelling, Word Work, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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