Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave has said technology can transform the learning of children with dyslexia.
The gold medal-winning rower - who is dyslexic himself - called on ministers to do more to raise awareness.
He said parents should be told that audio-video equipment could dramatically improve lessons for visually impaired and dyslexic pupils.
Sir Steve challenged the way that reading tends to be regarded as an essential base for all other learning.
"There is an assumption among a lot of educationalists that there is only one way to learn - by reading," he said.
"More research needs to be done to explore alternative methods such as video.
"But I've seen research from America, which shows that if students with literacy problems are exposed to learning materials as combined audio and text, their test scores can increase by almost 40%.
"This is staggering and it's time everyone knew about it."
He recognised that schools had competing priorities for their resources.
But the government, local authorities and schools could do much more to raise awareness among parents about such alternative formats.
Children themselves also did not know such help was available, he said.
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said funding for children with special needs had been increased.
"We have always been clear that inclusion is about the quality of children's education, and how they are helped to learn, achieve and participate in the life of their school, whether that is a mainstream or a special school," he said.
"And we are encouraging local authorities to develop a range of provision to meet children's needs."