Someone who is struggling to meet targets or who is experiencing high levels of stress may have 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;
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 can 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.
We’d love to hear your hints and tips on supporting your colleagues with dyslexia.
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.
Jodie 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.’’
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!
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
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.
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 notes
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 dyslexic 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.
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.
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 Goldliteracysupport software to support his students with revision and in the exam room. David has been helping children with learning difficulties since 1996.
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.
We know it can be difficult getting to grips with something new! That’s why we’ve created this great new video to help get started with the latest version of Read&Write Gold.
Whether you’re using it for study, work or just in everyday life, we’re sure there are some handy hints and tips in the video that can help you!
Just in case you’re not too familiar with Read&Write Gold, here’s some background. Our award-winning Read&Write Gold software is used around the globe to help struggling readers, those with literacy difficulties, such as dyslexia and English Language Learners. Our clever toolbar hosts an array of powerful reading, writing and study support tools and discreetly integrates will all major applications. With these tools you can be sure that you never make another mistake in your assignments, emails and even Social Media status updates.
Now that you know what it is, click here to see Read&Write Gold in action!