Author Archives: texthelp2012

Five quick and easy ways to support colleagues with dyslexia

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Someone who is struggling to meet targets or who is experiencing high levels of stress may haveSupporting paper cut outs an undiagnosed specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia.

As dyslexia is a ‘hidden disability’, it’s not always obvious to others. This can lead to untold stress in the workplace for people affected by the condition. With the right tools and support, organisations can bring out the best in their employees.

Here are five quick and easy ways to help colleagues with dyslexia in your organisation;

1. Educate
It is important for all employees to know what dyslexia is and how it impacts colleagues.

2. Verbal or written instructions?
Some people may prefer verbal instructions and others may prefer instructions given in writing. Either way, it is important to focus on the objectives of the tasks and remove any other information that is not relevant. The clearer the message, the easier it will be for them to understand.

3. Developing time management and organisational skills
Good time management is a great skill. It is particularly important for people with dyslexia as it helps them manage their days more effectively. By breaking the day into blocks, employees cancall centre staff focus on one task at a time, complete that task and then move on to the next.

4. Location, location, location
For someone who is dyslexic, sitting in a busy area where there can be a high flow of traffic, can be extremely challenging.

To help a colleague with dyslexia, try to find an area of the office where there is the least amount of disturbances or distractions.

5. Assistive technology (AT)

BATA* carried out a survey in 2013 which found that three quarters of employees using AT, like Read&Write Gold say it has improved their effectiveness at work.

support

We’d love to hear your hints and tips on supporting your colleagues with dyslexia.

*British Assistive Technology Association

Spring Time at Barry Bennett

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Spring time with Barry Bennett

By Carolyn Lowry

spring

Here at Texthelp, the DSA team kicked off the spring season as proud sponsors of the annual Barry Bennett Spring Workshops held in Reading and Bolton. This was my first year attending one of these workshops and it was a fantastic experience that I certainly look forward to repeating.

From October 2013 the team at Barry Bennett dedicated their time and made huge efforts to make their 2014 Workshops the best year ever – and they certainly succeeded.

This year’s workshops ran differently than previous years. 16 suppliers within the DSA market held short presentations as well as workshops where attendees could have hands on experience with their hardware and software. There was a great buzz generated by the workshops and presentations held by the suppliers. One attendee said, “This has been my first time at a Barry Bennett training event and I have been very impressed by the quality of the speakers.”

In attendance at both events was our DSA manager Jonathan Walker who delivered some informative workshops on our award winning literacy support software, Read&Write Gold. For delegates who came along to his workshops there was also the opportunity to enter our fantastic competition to win a trip for 2 to Paris worth up to £1000.

winnerJodie Parkes an Independent Assistive Technology Specialist, was our lucky winner from the Reading workshops and Julie Davies, a SpLD Advisor at Edge Hill University was our lucky winner from the Bolton workshops. Both winners were absolutely thrilled with their prizes!

When Julie was informed that she had won the £1000 trip to Paris she said, ‘’When I attended the Barry Bennett Conference in Bolton, I never dreamt of winning such a fantastic prize – a holiday to Paris! Having enjoyed the conference and workshops, it was such a surprise to be drawn as the winner of the Texthelp competition to Paris, and I would like to thank Texthelp for such a wonderful prize.’’

Paris

We would like to say a massive thank you to all the staff at Barry Bennett for all the hard work and dedication that went in to organising two fantastic and very successful events.

We also hope Jodie and Julie have an amazing time in Paris. Send us a postcard guys!

Paris Postcard

Calling all teachers! Prepare yourselves and your students for exams.

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Strategies and techniques for teachers when preparing students for exams

School examinations are a stressful time not only for students but for teachers too.  This article looks at how teachers can best support/motivate students prior to their exams, to enable them to succeed.

Classroom

  1. Prepare yourself – plan ahead: Students will have lots of questions about the upcoming exams.  Ensure you familiarise yourself with the course and assessment goals as well as the exam procedures so you are knowledgeable and can let students know what is expected of them.
  1. During class and term time: As you work through the curriculum during school terms ensure students highlight important details in their notebooks/binders.  This will help students when it comes to revision time.
  1. Revision classes: Students should be working steadily throughout the year but some revision classes in the last few weeks of term can help prepare them for exams.
  • Identify the key topics students will need to know for their exam and try to make the revision session memorable and motivational for the students.  You could make the questions into a board game and cover the key points this way, making it a fun/relaxed review and ensuring students don’t feel overloaded with information.
  • In-class group discussion as part of exam review can promote analytical and independent thinking, especially when each member of the team is allocated a different role in the group.
  • Set students homework between revision classes to motivate them to start their revision early.
  • Allow time for any questions they have about the upcoming exams.

4. Revision techniques: Advise students on ways to improve their study concentration by informing them to:

  • Study in a quiet place where they will not be distracted.
  • Create revision timetables and stick to them.
  • Break large subjects into smaller ones, which can be absorbed in one revision sitting.
  • Take regular short breaks, eat healthily and drink plenty of water.
  • Look at test papers to help prepare for exams, including planning out answers to previous exam questions.
  • Create mind maps and diagrams as a way to remember information studied.
  1. The Exam room and paper: Remind students of the basic exam room rules e.g. phones switched off, no notes to be taken in to the exam room.
  • Also reinforce the fact that students should read the questions several times in the exam, so they know what the examiner is looking for (in their responses) and can answer the question correctly.  Use of past papers can help with this.
  • Teach the art of exams – make sure student understand the difference between key words used in exam questions such as “describe”, “discuss”, “compare” and “summarise”.  Even if students really know the topic they could be let down if they don’t know what a question requires of them or how much time to spend on their answer.
  • Encourage students to organise their ideas prior to writing the answer to the exam so it is written in a clear manner and answers the question thoroughly.  Again a mind map is a good technique when planning essay answers and can be drawn out quickly on a spare piece of paper during the exam.
  • Remind students that extra marks are awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • Also tell students to write their answers neatly as they will lose marks in their exam if the examiner cannot read what is written.  Examiners mark many papers so they are pleased when handwriting is tidy and easy to read.
  • Time management is important for students during exams – ensure they divide their time between the questions sufficiently and keep to this schedule so they don’t run out of time when answering the questions.
  1. Use all available resources: There are many revision tools on the market to support teachers in the classroom, which can provide variety/increased student interest in revision classes.  To the tech-savvy young students in your classroom, the use of online application and software is second nature, so introducing them to these applications can help unlock their creativity and aid their study, revision and organisation.  One such application is Read&Write Gold software from Texthelp Ltd, which helps students in the classroom and with their revision.  The many reading, writing and study skills features make revision easier, less laborious and Read&Write Gold appeals to all types of learners i.e. visual, kinesthetic and auditory.

 

Find out more about how Read&Write Gold can enable student success in the classroom, during exams and at revision time by visiting www.texthelp.com or downloading your free 30-day trial directly from www.texthelp.com/uk/downloads.

The exam countdown is on – Top tips to help your dyslexic students with their revision!

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This week on our blog – we invite guest blogger, David Imrie from Ashcraig School in Glasgow to share his top tips to help dyslexic students with revision!

With GCSEs starting in May, it’s important that dyslexic students are provided with support and assistance from teachers to help them achieve their best grades.

 

Early planning – The Exam Timetable

Revision timetable

Many students find exams and exam preparation difficult and stressful – a task that is even more taxing for dyslexic students.  It’s important for teachers to encourage students to plan and organise their revision time early to help relieve the pressure.

 

Creating and sticking to a revision timetable is always a useful coping strategy, allocating time for each exam topic and helping students to stay focussed.

 

Organise revision notes 

Teachers should also encourage their students to organise their revision materials.  One way to make them more manageable is to colour code any paper notes.

Coloured pens

I use the coloured highlighting feature in Read&Write Gold from Texthelp whic
h allows students to gather information using coloured highlighters, from multiple sources e.g. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. This text can then be collated into a single Microsoft Word revision document, with a bibliography automatically created.

 

Memorising revision notesMind Map

Many dyslexic students enjoy using mind-mapping tools when revising, to help with
remembering key words and ideas.  These tools are perfect when brainstorming and mapping out ideas for revision.  They allow students to build their own visual mind map, adding elements, sticky notes and imagery (which is great for visual learners).

 

Reduce the revision workload

Reading is a fundamental part of revision, but for dyslexic students revision requires a lot of reading and re-reading of text to decode it.  This increases the typical workload for a dyslexicBook pile student when preparing for their exams and can significantly increase their levels of stress.

 

Many dyslexic students are multi-sensory learners and benefit from listening to their revision notes rather than reading them.  Text-to-speech features in assistive software can be used to read any text aloud on a PC/Mac, for example, in MS Word, on the internet or in pdf documents and allows the student to listen to their revision notes rather than having to keep re-reading them.

 

Concentration and visual stress

If a student has trouble with reading, it may be because of visual discomfort and distortion of print on the page or screen.  A white page may glare, causing eye-strain or headaches; words may appear to move, to jumble or to blur.  All these things interfere with reading and affect attention and concentration.  Coloured overlays can be used with any hand-written revision notes and students can experiment to see which colour works best for them.

Screen Tint

The Screen masking feature in literacy support software allows the student to tint the entire screen on a PC/Mac. This reduces glare and visual discomfort and enables those with Irlen Syndrome, for example(a form of visual stress which leads to difficulties with fine vision tasks such as reading) to be able to concentrate on their revision notes for longer.

 

Exam Conditions/Readers

Many dyslexic students will be allowed a human reader in their exam to assist them.  However, recent changes to JCQ Exam Access Arrangements now allow for a computer reader to be used in place of a human reader, to read any text in the exam papers aloud.  This enables students to be independent and reduces their stress levels, as they no longer have to feel embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.

 

Encouragement and coping strategies

Encouragement and support from tutors, friends and family is invaluable, enabling students to blossom academically and to achieve their goals.  It’s also important for teachers to help dyslexic students recognise and build on their coping strategies in order for them to progress and do well in their exams and beyond.

 

David Imrie is biology teacher and SENCO at Ashcraig School in Glasgow and uses Read&Write Gold literacy support software to support his students with revision and in the exam room. David has been helping children with learning difficulties since 1996.

 

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Bumping into Bob Geldoff, spotting Michael Gove and visiting one of the 700 exhibition stands – just some of the highlights from a visit to the ExCel London, where this year’s BETT show celebrated its 30th anniversary.

By Jenny Laird @Texthelp

2014 marked my second visit to the  BETT show, the world’s leading event for learning technology.  To celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary, this year’s BETT was bigger than ever before with visitor footfall up by 6% on 2013, to a massive 46,508.

Having previously visited the show in 2012 at the London Olympia I was initially shocked by the sheer size of the show at the ExCel.  The exhibitor stands were huge, hi-tech, artistic structures each competing with the next for delegate’s attention.

BETT 2014 had over 700 exhibitors coming together to showcase their latest products and discuss key topics in the education technology sector.  Top of this year’s agenda was the impending computing curriculum.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove opened the show on Wednesday.  In his keynote speech he said the curriculum, which will be taught in UK primary schools from September this year, was built “from the bottom up” by academics because government departments would not be able to keep up with the rapid pace of technology.

The Texthelp exhibition stand was located in the Special Needs zone.  We received lots of attention because of our creative stand design, with some delegates even taking photos of the beautiful butterfly on our stand! BETT Stand

We met lots of visitors from Schools, Colleges and Universities but were surprised by the large increase in enquiries from International students and organisations.

Dominic Savage, Director General of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) mentioned that BETT’s growing international presence played an important part at this year’s show. “The show aims to be reflective of the global move of education technology.  Inviting the international companies along gives them and the UK-based firms a chance to talk all things industry.”

Google

On a trip around other exhibitors’ stands at lunch time we noticed the exhibition stands of some big players in the technology market, including Google, who had a fabulous stand with lots of visitors chatting and checking out their wares.

We also bumped into Sir Bob Geldoff who was taking great interest in the tour he was being given around the many exhibitors stands at the show; and Laura and I made friends with some cuddly mascots.

Jen & Laura

The BETT Awards

Entries to this year’s BETT Awards were up by a quarter on last year.  Texthelp’s Angeline Kelly, Caroline Cuddy and CEO Mark McCusker attended on behalf of Texthelp as we were shortlisted as as a finalist in the Exporter of the Year category. Although we didn’t go on to win the award, a great night was had by all.

Bett 2014 Finalist logo

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Dyslexia Awareness Week Round up!

We’ve been busy, busy, busy here at Texthelp HQ ever since Dyslexia Awareness week, when a little cuddly toy created quite the buzz!

We would like to introduce you to Arty, the Texthelp Monkey. Monkey Pic

Arty was free to a good home with every download of Read&Write Gold 30 day Free trial during Dyslexia awareness week! He proved so popular that we extended the giveaway an extra week! The only thing we asked of the recipients was a picture to let us know he had settled in in his new home.

Odie 2

Monkey Rio

 

Monkey Facebook

The theme for Dyslexia Awareness Week this year was “Beyond Words.” In keeping with this theme, we ran a competition to find the most creative of thinkers amongst our customers! We asked that entrants describe how it feels to have dyslexia without using words – the entries could be in the form of music, art, photography or video. We had some great entries but the panel decided that Ruane Cashmore was the worthy winner. I’m sure you will all agree her entry was both eye-catching and thought provoking!

Ruane Cashmore

National Inclusion Week 2013

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NIW2013

It’s National Inclusion Week this week from 7th until 10th! In support of this, our CEO, and BATA Chairman, Mark McCusker will be holding a Twitter Q&A session on Thursday 10th October at 2pm.

The Q&A session will be on the importance of inclusion in the workplace, what employers can do if their employees have dyslexia or literacy difficulties or even don’t use English as their first language.

We are proud to be supporting National Inclusion Week as one of the aims of our software is to help create an equal and inclusive working environment. Mark comments on supporting National Inclusion Week, “Texthelp is proud to be taking part in National Inclusion Week as our aim has always been to provide inclusive support in the workplace for those that have dyslexia or reading and writing difficulties. We work with organisations such as Transport for London and the Fire Brigades Union to help staff improve their performance, as well as to promote equality and inclusion with the most comprehensive, cutting-edge technology available.”

To pose a question to Mark during the Q&A session use the hashtag #NIW13 or tweet @NationalIncWeek.