Google Keep hacks for dyslexic students

The number of UK university students with dyslexia has risen in recent years to around 5%, not accounting for the number of undiagnosed dyslexic students. The British Dyslexia Association states “dyslexia is not an obvious difficulty; it is hidden” which helps to explain why people are overcoming barriers in everyday life, without receiving the extra support they need.  

Dense reading and long essays aren’t the only obstacles dyslexic students face; note-taking, remembering deadlines and processing information, whether that is during a lecture or reading a menu, are also daily difficulties. Accessible note-taking apps like Google Keep are valuable life hacks for helping dyslexic people to organise, prioritise and gather information with speed and style. 

Does your dyslexia effect your short-term and working memory?

Check out this previous instalment in our hack-in-the-box series on Google Keep. Read on to discover the ways Keep can make processing information easier for you: 

Turn real-world text into digital text

Are your handwritten notes too scruffy to read? Is there too much content on the lecture slides to copy down in time? Transcribe notes from text in photos by simply choosing “grab image text” in options and watch as Keep swiftly saves the contents into a note synced across all devices. The ability to convert printed and written text into editable digital text can be invaluable in overcoming challenges dyslexic people face every day. Even without fancy features, just being able to maximise the screen and use in-built dictionaries such as Look Up on iOS can make decoding dense text significantly easier.  

Screen shot of Google Keep grab image text in use on a mobile phone

Google Keep’s Optical Character Recognition feature is up there with Microsoft Office Lens as one of the best around….and maybe even better - unlike Office Lens, Google Keep’s OCR feature is cross-platform and available on the desktop version also!

Bonus Hack!

Do you ever get bogged down with dense and difficult required reading? Send notes to Google Docs and have typed and converted text read out loud to you using Google’s Screen Reader

Organise by tags and colour

If you have dyslexia it can help to visualise information in clearly categorised, easy to process chunks; Keep’s tile-based interface acts as your own portable personalised note-board where your reminders and thoughts are always quick to hand. Colour is a great away to make your notes easy to identify as well as prioritise; have you considered colour coding your notes by personal and study tasks, deadline priority and ‘completed’? Coloured backgrounds can also improve the readability of content, as white can be dazzling for dyslexic people.  

Colour coding provides a clear visual, but how about more specific categorisation? Tag and search for your notes with custom labels for easy access to exactly what you’re looking for. Combine the two functions using the Category Tabs extension for Keep in Chrome to assign category names to different colours.

Screen grab of Google Keep coloured tabs in use on a mobile phone

Draw with digital ink

On android, iOS and desktop you can create drawings, highlight your notes and quickly scribble ideas down with just your finger. If typing isn’t your strong suit and visually rich notes help you to absorb information, Keep’s array of colours, shades and backgrounds (e.g lined paper) enable you to style out your notes in a way which suits you. 

When you’re done you can even convert your digitally drawn notes into polished text using Keep’s OCR feature to “grab image text”! 

Need to find a number you scribbled down quickly? You can search hand-written text using the search bar too!Screen shots of mobile phones showing how to change your background by selecting grid in options on Google Keep

Bonus Hack!

Snapped a photo of a lecture slide or whiteboard you want to review later? Find photos in Google Keep by searching for the words contained within them!

Studying in Higher Education? Support is available...

You don’t have to think of yourself as disabled to be eligible for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). If you are a UK student with a disability, long-term condition or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia you may be eligible for extra support. Specialist hardware, software and one-to-one study support are some of the ways DSA can help you. Check if you’re eligible for DSA now by using our free Higher Education support checker.

AbilityNet can help

AbilityNet is a UK charity that helps people to use technology to achieve their goals. If you have questions about disability and technology you can call us on 0800 269 545 or email

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