Volunteers needed aged 13 – 19

This came to our attention via Facebook. Please contact Jonathan if you are interested.

My name is Jonathan Dickins, and I am a PhD student at the University of Southampton with an interest in reading in dyslexia. We are currently running a study, available to all children with a diagnosis of dyslexia between the ages of 13-19, in which we are investigating how children’s eyes move whilst they read. This study can be undertaken at our lab at the University of Southampton, or alternatively we can visit you at home during evenings or weekends in our Mobile Lab. All participants receive a £10 Amazon voucher and the study takes roughly 90 minutes.

If you think your child may be interested in taking part, please feel free to contact me on J.Dickins@soton.ac.uk.

Handy Book App for Android tablets and phones

On the Helpline we have just been alerted to this new product.The product information says,

“Handy Book is an eBook reader that has been designed especially for people with dyslexia and poor sight. Handy Book makes reading easier, less tiring and more enjoyable. You can download a free demo or pay £4.95 for the full licence. This may be refundable if you are eligible for one of the Government schemes mentioned below.

Handy Book has a simple interface allowing you to easily change the background colour, font style and size of text. It also has a highlighter bar that helps you focus on one line at a time.

Many dyslexics struggle with identifying words so Handy Book features a simple dictionary that allows you to select a word and see the definition. Handy Book can also read the definition out loud.

HandyBook supports ePub and FB2 eBook formats. Books can be easily downloaded from third-party eBook websites using Handy Book’s built-in bookshop. Many classic titles such as Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes are available for free.

Handy Book also allows you to view your own documents in DOC, RTF and plain text formats.

During trials at a UK secondary school, Handy Book was tested with a group of dyslexic children from years 7 to 11. The group as a whole showed an improvement of between 16% to 650% in the amount that was being read and a 50 – 300% improvement in the level and time of focus for reading.

“In conclusion, the Handy Book reading app has proven to significantly improve the way students who struggle with one or several aspects of reading actually read. All of the students showed a significant percentage increase in the amount that was read throughout the individual students reading sessions.” – Miss E. Wakely, Senior Dyslexia Tutor

Now get HandyBook for free! If you live in the UK and are registered as having dyslexia you may be eligible to reclaim the cost of HandyBook and an Android tablet using one of the following government schemes:-

Access To Work – for employers of registered dyslexic employees to reclaim the costs of anything that helps them to perform their job. Seehttps://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

Disabled Student Allowance – to help dyslexic students reclaim the cost of anything that helps with their education. See https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

Please contact us if you require any more information about how these scheme can help you.”

Dyslexia Awareness Evening in Salisbury

Parents, pupils and school staff are invited to an evening of dyslexia awareness.


Join us for the Wiltshire premier of the film ‘The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.


There will also be an informal discussion afterwards to find out more about dyslexia in Wiltshire.


‘’Launched at Sundance Film Festival in 2012, and directed by Robert Redford’s son, James Redford, ‘The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia’ is a film that addresses the misconceptions surrounding dyslexia and aims to inspire and help those with dyslexia , along with their families.’’




This event is FREE !



Date: Monday 3rd November

Time: 6:30pm

At: The City Hall, Salisbury



Doors open at 6:15pm, PG certificate, 52 minute running time.

Visual Stress? Find out where you can get help locally.

How to find a Visual Stress Practitioner in Hampshire

NB a number of Specialist Teachers and other assessors offer a screening test for Visual stress with coloured overlays, as a stand-alone test or as part of a full diagnostic assessment for Specific Learning Difficulties and you are advised to discuss this before any appointment.

If coloured overlays are prescribed for you, it is recommended that you use them for at least three months and IF THEY ARE STILL MAKING A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE, consider seeing an optometrist for a test with the Intuitive Colorimeter.

Meanwhile optometrists offering testing with the Intuitive Colorimeter in Hampshire are shown below:

Cameron-Davies Opticians 50-52 West Street
Porchester PO16 9UN 02392 373015
Rex Wingate & Partners 26 North Street
PO9 1PR 02392 484184
Owen Leigh Optometry, The Vision Therapy Clinic (but not as a stand-alone test). Contact for charges. 28 The Spain
GU32 3LA 01730 710174
Rex Wingate & Partners 60-62 Botley Road
SO31 1BB 01489 584169
Cameron Davies Opticians 39-41 Marmion Road
PO5 2AT 02392 753127

Practitioners in other parts of the country may be found by county at: http://www.s4clp.org/  or http://www.ceriumoptical.com/vistech/specialists.aspx


Rawlings Opticians 60 High Street Winchester SO23 9BX Tel: 01962 853082 – Offers testing for Visual Stress with Coloured Overlays only: £45 for test; £12.50 for A4 sized overlay.If an overlay is still being used after 3 months they recommend the client to Rex Wingate and Partners.

Shaylers Vision Centre 25 West Street Wareham Dorset BH20 4JS 01929 553 928 – Offers vision therapy to deal with all manner of visual stress; does not offer Colorimetry. Contact for charges.

 Classic Eyes Eycare Centre 55 Bourne Avenue Bournemouth BH2 6DW (and Poole branch) Tel: 01202 317313 – Offers Vision Therapy and Colorimetry testing. Contact for charges.




Visual Stress screening

with Specialist Teacher                              £30 – £60

Cost of overlays                                 £10 – £15


Colorimetry Test under 16                 £50 – £65

Adult                                                      £85

Lenses + Tinting                                 £200 – £270

(Under 16 may be less)

Frames under 16                                £free – £15

Frames adult                                      40+

These prices are shown as an example only, you are advised to contact practitioners individually



Murmur: A dance interpretation of Dyslexia at Bournemouth Pavilion November 13th

This appeared in the Helpline mailbox today:

I am writing to you about a professional dance performance about Dyslexia.
I work at Pavilion Dance South West in Bournemouth.

On *13 November* we have Aakash Odedra Company visiting us with a double
bill of professional dance. His piece ‘murmer’ is all about Dyslexia. I
thought I’d let you know as it might be an interesting way to look at or
understand dyslexia through an art-form.

I hope that it’s something that care workers, supporters, teachers and
people with dyslexia might find interesting or useful.

Take a look at the info on the website and you can see a video trailer of
the work too:


Do let me know if you’d like any further information, I hope you can spread
the word amongst your contacts.

Kind regards


<http://www.pdsw.org.uk> Sarah Probert |    Marketing Coordinator

sarah@pdsw.org.uk    |    Tel 01202 203 630    |    Direct Line 01202 203

www.pdsw.org.uk    |    Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/PDSW.org>
|    Twitter <http://www.twitter.com/PDSW_org>

Calling all dyslexics aged 14 – 19!

Jonathan Dickins contacted HDA and said, “I’m a PhD student at the University of Southampton working on a project looking at reading in adolescents with dyslexia, and I’m getting in touch because I believe our studies may be of interest to some of your students. We are looking for participants aged between 14-19 to take part in a one-off study either at the University of Southampton, or during a home visit, which we conduct in our mobile laboratory. Participants are paid with a £10 Amazon voucher for their time.”

If you would be interested in becoming a part of this study, please go to https://www.quicksurveys.com/s/Ct3b5 .


Thank you for your help.

New scholarships for teachers and SEN support staff

Jean Hutchins has alerted us to the new round of funding for SEN staff in schools. Here is the link:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-scholarships-for-teachers-and-sen-support-staff

– and this is what it says! NB the four week application time starting today!

Teachers and special educational needs (SEN) support staff will from today be able to apply for funds from the National Scholarship Fund worth up to £1 million to develop their specialist knowledge and skills.

For the fourth year running, teachers can bid for up to £3,500 while SENsupport staff can bid for up to £2,000 to fund training which will improve the support available to children and young people with special educational needs.

The application window for the fourth round will open for 4 weeks from 30 April. To date £7 million has been made available through the fund, benefiting almost 2,000 teachers and support staff in schools across the country.

Charlie Taylor, Chief Executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, said:

We believe that a teaching profession that values continual professional development is crucial to raising standards in our schools.

These scholarships – alongside other reforms to improve teacher recruitment and training – will help deliver our objective to raise the status of teachers.

Donna Frost Phillips, a successful applicant from the third round of the fund, said:

The fund has allowed me to undertake the specialist dyslexia training course, which I would not have been able to do without this funding. The course is having a direct impact on the literacy development of the learner that I am working with through my training.

The school will have a specialist teacher on site, which means children and teachers will have access to specialist advice teaching, meaning they won’t have to buy in specialist support.

The outcome of the fourth round will be announced in August 2014.

Notes to editors

The National Scholarship Fund is open to all qualified teachers and SENsupport staff in eligible schools. Applications are assessed against stringent criteria and verified by a panel of experts.

Applicants are assessed on the following criteria:

  • priority specialism of SEN
  • support from school – teachers and support staff are required to demonstrate support from their school in terms of accessing resources and being able to carry out activities within and outside the school

The guidance National scholarships for teachers and SEND support staff has more information.

The bursaries will fund up to 50% of a training or development course, up to a maximum of £3,500 for teachers and £2,000 for SEN support staff.


Glue Ear

On 6th March, Hampshire Dyslexia Association held a ‘glue ear’ event in the ‘Intech’ planetarium nearWinchester.  A group of delegates, including speech and language therapists, teachers, parents and  health and education students reclined in the plush seats to learn more about glue ear, its possible effects on learning, and how children who have / have had the condition can be supported.


Our speaker was Dr Lindsay Peer, an Educational Psychologist and expert on specific learning difficulties. Dr Peer explained that glue ear is a common condition, especially in children under eight. For most children, the sticky fluid preventing clear hearing will drain from the inner ear and leave no further effects. However, when the glue ear is persistent or keeps re-occurring, children may not receive the input necessary for normal development of language and literacy skills. These children can go on to have delayed speech, poor auditory perception and slow language processing speeds which can result in difficulties with learning. For instance it will be hard for them to learn phonics to aid their reading and spelling. Difficulties can remain even after the glue ear has gone, resulting in symptoms consistent with dyslexia. Research (Peer 2003) found that of a thousand dyslexic people interviewed, 703 had been so affected by glue ear that grommets had been inserted.


Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs of glue ear in small children. They may have bouts of feeling generally unwell with a cold or fever and may pull at their ears or have ear-ache. They may wake at night and need to breathe through their mouth. Their hearing will fluctuate and at times be relatively poor leading to difficulty following instructions and effectively interacting. This can lead to frustration or withdrawal from social situations and poor attention levels. Be careful not to assume that the child is naughty as it can be seen that glue ear can impact on behaviour as well as learning.


Doctors are able to offer a range of treatments to try and help: decongestants, antibiotics, sprays, drops or an ‘Otovent’ device. They can refer children for hearing tests and advise about speech and language therapy. Ultimately grommets may be inserted and / or the adenoids removed. Dr Peer quoted Professor Mark Haggard (2004) former Director of the Medical Research Council’s Institute of Hearing Research: “The correct intervention for established glue ear is surgery, particularly for children over the age of three-and-a-half, who have been clearly shown to benefit from grommets……Many children do not get treatment and so have continuing problems and are disadvantaged by the time they come to school.”


Parents and adults working with children with glue ear need to be aware of the condition and its consequences so that they understand the problems that a child with glue ear is experiencing. Dr Peer emphasised that parents should share a medical history of glue ear and their child’s current level of hearing with others – in particular with teachers.


How an adult can help a child who has, or has had glue ear:

  • Attract the child’s attention before speaking. The child can then watch the speaker’s mouth and body language in addition to listening. Use gesture to help.
  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Respond to communication attempts giving time for the child to process and talk.
  • Reduce or eliminate background noise. Curtains can help absorb sound.
  • Use structured, sequential multisensory teaching. Show the child in a visual or tactile way in addition to talking. Use drama and visual aids.
  • Check that instructions have been understood.
  • Give empathy and support to boost confidence.



Dr Peer concluded by stating that glue ear is a common problem that should be identified as early as possible. With understanding, help and support children who have, or who have had, this condition can achieve their potential.


For further information see: Glue Ear. An Essential guide for teachers, parents and health professionals by Dr Lindsay Peer. David Fulton Publishers.

Jacky Gurney.

Problems with Writing?

Problems with writing?

Is writing a struggle because …..

  1. You or others can’t read your handwriting?
  2. You can’t spell the words you want to write?
  3. You can’t recall the words you want to write?
  4. You can’t organise your thoughts so you have to keep re-writing your work?
  5. You spend so much of your energy thinking how to write that you forget what you wanted to say?

There are plenty of solutions that can help you – or your child.

Word processing will dramatically improve presentation and make work legible. It can also raise the self esteem of the writer. To maximise the benefits, there is a need for  the writer to develop good keyboard skills. Typing tutors for children can be bought  (Nessy Fingers costs £20 + delivery) or found for free at www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing. There are also many free adult versions available on the Internet. If young children struggle with the upper case letters of the Qwerty keyboard, then you can buy lower case stickers to place over them from www.inclusive.co.uk  for £5. The younger dyslexic may also benefit from picture symbols to support their writing. Pictures appear above a word and give the writer visual assistance, reinforce meaning and improve confidence. SymWriter2 (www.widgit.com from £149) features text-to-speech and a spell checker with symbol support.

Where weak spelling is an issue, the built in spell checker in your word processor may not be able to offer suitable corrections, so a specialist solution could come in handy. There are handheld spellcheckers which will try to interpret phonic spellings e.g. the Franklin spellchecker – from as little as £11. If you go for something like the Collins Pocket Speller/Thesaurus at £22 you can type in an easy word like ‘grumpy’ and find ‘cantankerous’!  Alternatively, Global AutoCorrect 2 is a product which automatically corrects the user’s spelling as they type, enabling them to focus on what they’re writing. It works in every application, and the software keeps track of spelling mistakes so the user can work on them in their own time. It costs £109.

Talking word processors will read text back you – a good way of checking you have written what you meant to say. Wordtalk is for use with all Microsoft word documents (1997 – 2010) and can save the text you have written as an audio file. You can download this for free at www.wordtalk.org.uk. ClaroRead SE (£49) will do a similar job and Penfriend XP 4.1 (£60) has the added advantage of providing speech plus word prediction. (There is also a portable USB version for £99). Co:Writer 6  (£179) is the only word prediction programme to use the context of a whole sentence to predict the next word and its Flexspell interprets phonetic and inventive spelling better than most spellcheckers.

Some predictive software also comes with word banks (lists of words relating to a topic). Children generally learn to recognise words before they can construct and spell them and weak spellers can use the word banks to select longer and more difficult words to enhance their work. The Oska Wordbanks (£159) offered by Claro Software (www.clarosoftware.com) and those available from Clicker and WriteOnline (both £150 from www.cricksoft.com ) all offer text to speech to support reading of the word banks as well as predictive text. Using word banks can reduce the number of key strokes and, consequently, be a lot quicker for the slow typist.

Voice Activated Software (VAS) offers the articulate, clear speaking individual the opportunity to turn their speech into text with a high degree of success and at great speed – three times faster than typing. Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 (the ‘Home’ electronic download is £79.99) is the market leader. It requires a good headset (the USB version is £24.99) and the patience to learn how to use it and to correct errors so that it becomes as accurate as possible. You also need an environment where you will not disturb others and their noise will not interfere with your dictation. It works with digital voice recorders (Olympus DM-450 [2gb] £149) so audio notes can be converted into text. If you download the free Dragon App then no training is needed, but beware! You need to be connected to the Internet to use the remote server and Apple can keep a copy of everything you say!

I have some experience of trialling VAS with teenagers and found that usually their spoken language was not sufficiently clear or structured for it to work efficiently. Having said that, the written work they produced was far better than anything they could have written unaided. Their expectation, however, was that the results would be perfect.

In GCE and GCSE exams there is provision for using some of these tools, providing there is an assessment of need and there is proof that they are the normal method of working in class. The use of a word processor is much more acceptable these days. A scribe, or the use of VAS with spellchecker activated, provides the ultimate support. However, candidates will usually receive no marks for punctuation, spelling or grammar.

Finally, the organisation of longer pieces of work can be achieved by the use of cut and paste facilities in a word processing programme. Many dyslexics dislike working in a linear document and prefer the Mind Mapping or Brainstorming approach where a central idea is placed in the middle of the page and ideas added around.  Inspiration and, for younger users,  Kidspiration (£49 each) both offer the user the opportunity to work in either map or diagram views. These provide the opportunity to structure thoughts and visually communicate concepts before transferring them into the linear documents required for essays. There is a built in picture and symbol library as well as sound to replay what has been written.

MyStudyBar is a tool which helps overcome all problems that students commonly experience with studying, reading and writing. It offers literacy support in planning, reading, writing, vision, speech and voice. This might be worth a try before spending lots of money on one particular product as it is FREE from  http://eduapps.org/?page_id=7 !

One word of warning! Laptops to run all these helpful pieces of software are heavy. Added to the typical school bag they can far outweigh the recommended load for children. A solution is to use the robust and lightweight AlphaSmart Neo2 (£139). It works with Co:Writer predicitve text (£96) and Text2Speech, is battery operated and has wireless connectivity to download work to your PC.

I have only mentioned a small proportion of the software available out there. Have I wetted your appetite?

Acknowledgements: Jamie Munro of Inclusive Technology (www.inclusive.co.uk) who stock most of the products mentioned. For a more detailed analysis of writing support go to the BDA New Technologies Committee website at  http://bdatech.org/learning/supporting-writing-with-ict/.                                                                                                                                Barbara Lowe     May 2013

Going to University with dyslexia? About the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

Who is eligible?

Higher education students living inEnglandwith any of the following:

  • disability
  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia (or other SpLD)

What is it?

A non-means tested, non-repayable grant to cover specialist equipment and non-medical helper support.

In dyslexia terms this usually means:

  • specialist 1:1 support from a dyslexia-trained professional
  • assistive software such as text to speech or mind-mapping applications
  • digital voice recorder

How can I apply?

You must have a full diagnostic assessment report done since you were 16 by a specialist assessor with an assessment practising certificate – either a specialist teacher (STA) or an educational psychologist (EP).

Exam Access Arrangements reports are not enough. Your school or college may be able to advise, or you can find a list of specialist assessors through the Hampshire Dyslexia Association or PATOSS.
Try to book early – many assessors do not work over the summer.


A full diagnostic assessment will give an up-to-date insight into your pattern of strengths and weaknesses and clearly state whether you have dyslexia. Assessments typically cost between £350 and £600; STAs are usually cheaper than EPs.  If you also have any medical condition it will help if you get medical evidence from your GP and add it to the same application.

The application process

This can seem a bit daunting – but it is worth persevering.

If you are applying to Student Finance England (SFE) for your student loan, you will also apply to them for DSA and you can use the ‘short’ DSA1 form.
Part-time, self-funded or postgraduate students must use the ‘full’ DSA1 form.
Health Sciences students with an NHS bursary apply to the NHS for DSA.




  1. Send your application to SFE with a copy of your full assessment report.


  1. If your application is accepted, they will tell you to book a ‘needs assessment’. The Wessex Needs Assessment Centre covers the local area: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/edusupport/wnac/


  1. Your needs assessment report, outlining the support you will need, will be sent to you and to SFE. Check your emails!


  1. SFE will send you a letter or email telling you what funding they have approved and give you instructions for ordering your equipment.


  1. SFE will pay suppliers direct – you do not have to get involved in that side of it. The NHS will credit your account and expect you to order, pay and send them the receipts.

Accessing support at University

Whichever university you go to, it is essential that you register with the dyslexia support services as soon as possible after you enrol.
Take your diagnostic and needs assessment reports with you.
If you have already arranged your DSA, the specialist advisors will be able to help you book specialist 1:1 support and also make arrangements for additional exam arrangements. If you have not been able to get a full diagnostic assessment, they should be able to arrange this – take your old reports with you. The cost may be cheaper than ‘going private’ – it depends on individual university policy – but it is unlikely to be free.

Useful websites:


Jane Warren, MSc (SpLD), AMBDA, APC

Specialist Dyslexia Practitioner and SeniorTeachingFellow
University ofSouthampton