“I’ve found that a single screen feels very restrictive to me.
I normally have three screens since I jump between tasks a lot. Many neurodiverse people like myself find it difficult to stay focused on one thing for very long.
Having my work “scattered” around on different screens feels sort of like having papers all over a desk; I can pick up pieces in parallel without the need to stop and start what I’m doing. Basically, being able to easily move between the different things helps me find a flow. “
– John Abel, Technical Director, Google



If you spend a good deal of your time working on a computer, you may find that adding a screen (or even more than one screen) significantly helps your productivity. Google Tech Director, John Abel, recently talked about his dyslexia and remote work hacks, and using multiple screens was one of his tips.

If you’re working on a laptop, work may involve tabbing different windows – opening and closing windows and hunting for the one you need – and checking email and messaging back and forth with co-workers.

What you do with you screens may vary, but many people use the screen in front of them to do their main work… writing, excel sheets, the right for email, and left for messages and research. Many research studies now report that the use of multiple screens boost productivity (see more HERE), whether you are dyslexic or not.

For one HR profession we saw in our clinic (lots of spreadsheets, pivot tables) having an extra screen (or extra screens were a must). Once this young woman was formally identified, the company equipped her with extra screens and also provided her with free tech training for the accessibility features regarding her software, like text-to-speech, color coding charts, and more.



John also mentioned how he liked working with Google Suite’s free Jamboard. Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard that’s a lot like Zoom’s whiteboard, except that it has 20 tabs.

For classroom teachers, here is what Physics Teacher Rick Matthews said about combining the two:

I split the class into Zoom breakout rooms, and each group chatted in Zoom while working together on their own tab of the Jamboard. I could move from one breakout room to another, flipping to the breakout group’s Jamboard tab as I changed rooms. That way I could see whether they were stuck or going down the wrong path; if so I asked leading questions or offered hints to get the group back on track — just as I did IRL! The first physics problem took around 15 minutes, and all groups finished within two or three minutes of the rest.

Some students used phones, some used tablets, and a couple used Jamboard in their browser, writing with their mouse. Most of the writing was not pretty, but it was all readable and “good enough.”

The reason for using a second platform was that to use Zoom to talk and use the whiteboard. There would be no promise that a student and his or her “twin” would be grouped into the correct Zoom room.




Another great hack that John shares is turning on automatic captions in Google Hangouts Meet.

John: “For me, being able to match the words that are being spoken to those typed out below helps me not miss important details, and also means I can take notes.

Captions even correct speakers’ grammar mistakes, which helps with my note taking. While captions are only available in English right now, we’re actively working to bring them to more languages.”

The caption function mainly can help if one’s reading speed is quick enough to be read, but because there is a slight delay with the captions being posted, and it is somewhat in sync with the audio, it may be work well or at least well enough.




Finally, if you use Gmail or Google Docs to write, you may have noticed that Google makes suggestions while you’re writing.

From John again:

“This might sound a little obvious, but using Smart Compose and grammar suggestions features have definitely improved my writing abilities. If I’m struggling with how to write a sentence, Smart Compose can suggest ways to complete it, which saves me time. (And is especially helpful with words like “where” and “were.”)”

Smart Compose is a machine learning program that predicts what you are likely to write. It is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. As you type, it will write suggested next words or phrases in a light gray. To accept a suggestion, just press tab.

You can disable Smart Compose by going to your preferences.





Dyslexia | Dyslexic Advantage