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.”

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

Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments 2013/14 JCQ Regulations

Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments 2013/14 JCQ Regulations
document is now online. http://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/access-arrangements-and-special-consideration/regulations-and-guidance/access-arrangements-and-reasonable-adjustments-2013-2014

Following concerns over  abuse of the allocation of 25% extra time (see below), the regulations have become much more prescriptive and demanding. Centres must be satisfied that candidates have an impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect, giving rise to persistent and significant difficulties.


GCSEs: ‘extra time’ rule overhauled to stamp out abuse
Published on August 22, 2013.

ClaroSpeak Predict & Complete

The latest ClaroSpeak update brings Word Prediction and Completion free to
all ClaroSpeak users. Word Prediction and Completion can speed up typing,
help with choosing the right word and let users use words without worrying
about how to spell them.

Word Prediction and Completion in ClaroSpeak takes account of word frequency
and previous words. There is an initial Word Prediction list loaded on
startup, and ClaroSpeak can learn new words as they are typed. The predicted
words appear on the keyboard and can be spoken. Train the word prediction
dictionary or create a new one from a word list.

ClaroSpeak with Word Prediction and Completion is now available in 14
languages. For a full list of our language and voice list available through
in app purchase through ClaroSpeak click here.

ClaroSpeak is a quality text-to-speech app for proofreading text through
listening, helping with reading and literacy development and creating audio
files from any text. Advanced features make proofing and editing more
accurate and users more efficient. ClaroSpeak offers the option of visual
highlighting in sync with the spoken words – and a great range of colour
and font settings to allow for optimum reading.

More Information

ClaroSpeak is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

To find out more go to the ClaroSpeak Web Page

For more information about the rest of Claro Software’s range of apps, go to
www.claro-apps.com, email sales@clarosoftware.com or call +44 (0)1772

Claro Software

Lancashire House, 24 Winckley Square, Preston, PR1 3JJ
Tel: +44 (0) 1772 977 888 Fax: +44 (0) 870 132 7471

South Hants Patoss meeting – June 17th – new venue

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF VENUE to that advertised in our latest magazine.

The meeting will now take place at Hounsdown School, Jacob’s Gutter Lane, Totton,  Southampton, Hampshire .SO40 9FT

A ‘hands-on’ demonstration of Crick Software will take place, followed by the AGM. Crick software  is suitable  for Primary, Secondary and home use.

Contact : southhantspatoss@hotmail.co.uk to book your place.

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

Who is eligible?

Higher education students living in England with 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

Adult Dyslexia Report

In the 40 years that the British Dyslexia Association has been campaigning there has been many changes in the world of dyslexia, some of them good.

In light of this milestone, the British Dyslexia Association has produced a report looking back at the last 40 years and has made recommendations for the future.

In partnership with The Dyslexia Foundation and after consulting 100 organisations, this report is a wide ranging and comprehensive assessment of the current provision for adults with dyslexia.

The link to the full report is here:


Claro launch their first app – ClaroSpeak

I’ve just received this on the Helpline from the Claro Support team:


Claro Software is pleased to announce the launch today of our first app –

ClaroSpeak™ is the first assistive technology app from Claro Software,
available on iOS for iPad or iPhone. ClaroSpeak is a high-quality text to
speech reader capable of speaking any accessible text with a range of human
high-quality voices. ClaroSpeak offers the option of visual highlighting in
sync with the spoken words – and a great range of colour and font
settings to allow for optimum reading. ClaroSpeak is available in a wide
range of languages and voices, for different countries, via the Apple App
Store. ClaroSpeak is a quality app for proofreading text through listening,
helping with reading and literacy development and creating audio files from
any text.

Click here to see ClaroSpeak in action with our overview video –

To find out more go to the ClaroSpeak Web Site – http://www.claro-apps.com

To purchase ClaroSpeak, go to the ClaroSpeak App Store Page –

Introducing ClaroRead for Mac V5 and news for Assessors!

ClaroRead for Mac V5 is the latest version of the  reading and writing
support tool for Mac. ClaroRead for Mac is designed to support individuals
who struggle with reading and writing. Users of any age and level of
ability will have a world of information unlocked through ClaroRead.

New In ClaroRead For Mac

Nuance Vocalizer Voices
ClaroRead for Mac now includes 8 high quality Nuance Vocalizer Voices. To
hear examples of the voices go to

“The rise and fall of the voices, as well as the tone, is better and
sounds even more natural.” Alasdair King MD Claro Software LTD

Support for Apple Pages ’09
ClaroRead for Mac now supports Apple’s Pages word processor just like
Microsoft Word. Key features supported include Homophone support, visual
highlighting tools and font features.

Check Anywhere Feature
The Check Anywhere feature allows users to spell check any text in any
application, whether it is a web page, document or PDF.

Improved In ClaroRead For Mac

Check Window Feature
The Check Window feature now includes extras such as a dictionary
definition of the chosen word and context box. The Check Window also
displays the meaning and synonyms of a chosen word.

The Dock Icon Feature
Control the functions of ClaroRead including Play, Stop and Save to Audio
through the dock icon. Access the main features of ClaroRead even when the
application is minimised.

Prediction Feature
The Prediction feature has been enhanced and can now be used when typing in
any application, such as Safari, Pages or TextEdit.

To find out more about ClaroRead for Mac V5 go to

If you are an assessor and would like a free evaluation copy of ClaroRead
for Mac V5 please contact  sales@clarosoftware.com

Claro Training Zone
The Claro Training Zone is a free online training resource to assist
assessors. Each course has been broken down into easy to follow sections,
so that users can quickly find the information that they are looking for.

Currently available on the site are the ClaroRead for PC and Mac courses.
Each course includes a thorough user guide covering each feature in detail,
help videos and interactive tutorials.

Once the course has been complete users can take part in a ClaroRead quiz.
Completing the quiz successfully will reward users with the Claro Training
Zone Certificate.

If you are an assessor and would like to register for a free Claro Training
Zone account go to http://clarosoftware.concept-live.co.uk/

Claro Links:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/clarosoftware
Twitter – http://www.clarosoftware.com/twitter
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/clarosoftware
RSS Feed – http://www.clarosoftware.com/blog/?feed=rss2

Getting around my dyslexia:A personal evaluation of coping strategies By Neil Cottrell BDA Young Achiever of the Year 2010

Neil is the founder of LexAble Ltd. This article was first published in the PATOSS Bulletin, Volume 23 No. 2 (Winter 2010).Please email neil.cottrell@LexAble.com for an electronic copy.

I met Neil yesterday at the BDA Conference on Dyslexia and Technology in Education. His story should be an inspiration to all dyslexics. This is what he has to say:

“I am severely dyslexic. I was identified at the age of 10 and had a statement of special education need by age 12. At 15 my reading speed was 7 years 3 months and my spelling age was 8.5-9 years. I had brilliant support from my parents and teachers, without which I am certain I would have failed many of my GCSE’s and left school at 16. I relied completely on a laptop with assistive software throughout secondary school, and was always devising and adapting coping strategies to put me on a level playing-field with my peers.

In 2009 I graduated top of my class, with a first class degree in psychology from Cardiff University. Now I am the director of a successful business that develops assistive software for people with dyslexia. And in June of this year, at the age of 22, I was named the British Dyslexia Association’s Young Achiever of the Year, for my contribution to the dyslexic community.

In this article, I will take a personal perspective, reflecting on and briefly evaluating some of the coping strategies that have helped me in education and beyond. Please feel free to skip through the headings and focus on any bits that interest you. I hope you will find some useful ideas to adapt and pass on to your students.

Why I needed coping strategies.

It is a sad cliché that people with dyslexia think we are stupid. Though obviously wrong, it is a logical conclusion for us to come to. We do not just struggle with the skills directly affected by dyslexia, but everything that relies on those skills. We cannot critically analyse a poem if all of our brainpower is spent on decoding the phonetics. We cannot be the best at sport if we always forget to bring our P.E. Kit. And we cannot express our thoughts coherently while we are trying to work out how to spell each word.

I worked so hard on my difficulties, with help from great teachers. But although my skills improved significantly they could never keep up with the level my mind was thinking on. I knew I had the ability to understand concepts and articulate them verbally, and I did not want my dyslexia holding me back. I used a whole range of coping strategies – some that I was taught and some that I devised or adapted myself. These strategies reduced my stress levels and helped me to focus on higher level tasks, so that I could achieve my full potential.

Being open and honest.

Being open and honest was my over arching coping strategy, and it was the most important one I learned. There were two main reasons for this:

1. Specific coping strategies helped me to get around specific difficulties, but sometimes I just needed someone to help. When there was a notice that needed reading, I quickly needed to know how to spell a word, or for some reason I could not use one of my regular coping strategies, I learned to just ask.

2. Many strategies required me to do something that would seem odd to someone who did not know me. Using a laptop in lessons, for example, is prime bullying fodder.I dealt with this by pre-empting it. If anyone ever asked me why I was using a laptop, I would tell them in a matter of fact and open manner, as though it was usual. Sometimes I felt extremely embarrassed, but I never let this show. I also made sure people did not feel they were asking stupid questions. Thisallowed them to ask more questions,eliminating any element of the unknown.

Organisation and memory.

My problems:

  • I forgot what I was thinking very quickly.
  • I could not remember where I was supposed to be or when I should be there.
  • Irrelevant (but often important) things would pop in to my head all the time. If I tried to remember them, it took all of my mental energy and I just could not function.

What I needed:

  • A system to quickly store my irrelevant thoughts so I could carry on with what I was doing.
  • A system to tell me exactly where to be and when.
  • To train myself to automatically input everything into this system immediately, before I forgot it.
  • A small notebook. For the first half of secondary school, I carried a small notebook and pen everywhere I went.I always had it easily accessible and trained myself to write down everything that came into my head. I also had a colour-coded school timetable stuck inside the front page.It provided a quick reference and had everything I needed to know: lessons and locations, lunchtime activities and what to bring to school each day (homework, PE kit,etc.). I felt so much less overloaded, and I could periodically check my notebook at appropriate times to sort through my thoughts.
  • A Dictaphone. I tried using a dictaphone to record my thoughts, but I personally found it too conspicuous, and I usually did not want everyone around me to know what I was thinking about. Also, it was much less simple to organise my thoughts, compared to a notebook where I could cross off or highlight certain items. But, of course, as with all of these strategies, it is whatever suits the individual that works.
  • A mobile phone. Later on in school I started using my smartphone for everything, in much the same way as I had been using my notebook. I would use the calendar to tell me where to be and when. I used the to-do notes to remember anything, and ordered them by urgency/importance so that the things I needed to do soonest were always at the top. Anything I thought of that I did not do instantly went in here, even down to “text Helen back”and “fill water bottle”.

I also used a different notes feature to make longer notes if, for example, I suddenly thought of a solution to a problem. This was a better system for me than a paper notebook because the alarms could remind me to do things, and I never forgot to take it anywhere with me.

A few things to note:•

  • Some teachers did not like it because it looked like I was writing a text message, so I still kept my notebook with me.
  • I synchronised my phone with my laptop, so that I could have a large visual overview of the day or week.
  • Automatic backups are vital.
  • I preferred phones with a QWERTY keyboard because, unlike traditional predictive text, I could enter text very quickly without having to spell it correctly. Predictive text only works if you can spell!
  • Lists. If I had enough time, I could think things through very thoroughly, but in a rush I would always forget something. So I made lists of everything: “Take to school”, “Take to band practice”, “Take to athletics”, “Take on holiday”. This way I did not always need to ask my parents to run through things with me – I was more independent.


My problems:

  • My reading speed was prohibitively slow.
  • I would be concentrating so hard on the decoding process that I had no idea what I had read.
  • The majority of school work relied on reading, so I could achieve very little without help.

What I needed:

  • To access all information in written form immediately and easily, so that I could focus on the more important higher level tasks.
  • Independence wherever possible –being able to access the information on my own.
  • To improve my reading skills for those times when alternatives were not available.
  • My “Reading pack” The first line of defence was to improve my reading. Although not technically a coping strategy, my “reading pack” helped me significantly. This pack of cards had letter combinations on the front (e.g. “ea”) and ē ĕ examples on the back (e.g. “eat – ; bread – ;ā break – ”). I would run through the reading pack every day, reciting the words and sounds on the back of each card. It really helped me to decode written words much faster. And although I have not looked at it for years, I can still remember some of them (those examples above are from memory!).
  • People reading to me. My parents, teachers and school-friends would read to me with no objection. In part,this was because I had learned to be open and honest as I described earlier. I still ask people to read things to me today, such as subtitles in a film, but it really is not viable as a primary strategy. I was dependent on everyone around me and I felt self-conscious.And one pet hate of mine was paraphrasing.When someone read to me I would get extremely frustrated if they paraphrased, as though I was not capable of understanding the written text. When I did struggle with a long sentence, I would ask the person to read it again or occasionally to summarise that one sentence. If you read aloud to someone please do not paraphrase without their permission!
  • Text to speech software. Using text to speech software has been the single most important coping strategy throughout my life. I still rely on it heavily today for reading emails, articles, websites,my own writing – everything. I initially used ReadPlease Plus (around £30) which read aloud everything I copied to the clipboard, essentially converting Ctrl-C to a hotkey toread the selected text. This was great for a basic reader, but I progressed on to Texthelp’s Read and Write software (£320) for its more advanced features. The majority of the information I required for my degree was either in PDF journal articles or in textbooks that I scanned to PDF. The combination of click-to-speak and synchronised highlighting made reading PDFs extremely easy and almost instantaneous. In fact, over the years I got so used to the synthesised voice that I could have it (her) reading out loud faster than others could read to themselves! As an aside,I now use a very simple program that I developed for myself, which reads text from any application by pressing F3. It is much more primitive than most of the screen readers out there, but it is slightly faster to initiate reading and I like it because it is mine.
  • Scanners. Over time, more material became available in electronic form, but for the information that was still locked into the printed word, I needed to use a scanner. Most scanners were incapable of scanning into the spine of a textbook without distorting the image. The words were not recognised, and I got an annoying jumble of letters at the start or end of each line. Text-to-speech could not cope with it and I would have to set it to read slowly,while I concentrated on decoding its jumbled output. I was given the OpticBook scanner(£150 – £180) at university and it solved the problem perfectly. It had a deep edge which fitted into the spine of the book, and scanned right up to that edge, so the text remained completely undistorted. It was a lot more bulky than other scanners, but that was definitely a worthwhile sacrifice, as it saved me a lot of frustration!


My problems:

  • While I was writing, I would always be distracted by spelling.
  • I would often stop mid-sentence to correct my spelling, and lose the flow of my ideas.
  • I felt overwhelmed because I had so many words to learn.

What I needed:

  • To take spelling out of the equation while I was trying to get my thoughts down.
  • To focus on the flow of my ideas while Iwas writing, without worrying about spelling.
  • To identify and focus my learning on the spelling mistakes I made most often.
  • To try to ignore spelling as I wrote. I am a perfectionist, and I would keep stopping to correct my spelling as I wrote. This was absolutely the worst strategy I could use, as the flow of my ideas was constantly disrupted. I tried turning off the red underline inMicrosoft Word, to stop me thinking about spelling. The trouble was that I still knew that what I was writing was wrong, and I would still have nagging doubts about spelling while I was typing. And of course, I would have the long and disheartening process of spell checking my numerous mistakes at the end. My spelling did not improve either, because with so many mistakes, I did not know which ones to focus on.
  • AutoCorrect. I tried using the AutoCorrect feature in my word processor, which partially solved the problem. It meant that fewer words would flash up as I was writing, and I could start to focus on my ideas. This really helped me to compose more coherent essays, but there were a few issues. When I wanted to type an email, fill in a web form or produce a mind map, I was back to square one. My ideas could not flow because I was distracted byspelling. Also, my spelling was still not improving as well as it could, because I did not know what mistakes I was making.
  • Global AutoCorrect. At age 15 I was confused and frustrated because it was so difficult for me to write and my spelling was just not improving. By this time I had significant experience of both using assistive software and developing my own coping strategies. So I created a software tool for myself, to automatically correct my spelling as I typed in different programs. Itwas very crude at first, but it really did enable me to focus on my ideas, because I was not worrying about spelling.

Over many years, and with a lot of hard work, Global AutoCorrect was born, and became fully fledged assistive software. The software automatically corrects the user’s spelling as they type in any program, enabling them to focus on the flow of their ideas. The user can also print a list of their most frequent mistakes, focussing their learning on the spellings that are most important to them. And because there is a constantly expanding list of thousands of spelling mistakes(collected anonymously from users who agree), people using Global AutoCorrect do not have to spend much time adding new corrections.

Global AutoCorrect (£49) was released ascommercial software in November 2009, and is now regularly purchased through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and Access to Work. It is also used in schools around the UK and internationally, as well as in HE and FE institutions. And as I mentioned earlier, I was named the British DyslexiaAssociation’s Young Achiever of the Year last June, for my contribution to the dyslexic community. All this from what started as myown individual coping strategy.


Many of you reading this article will be directly involved in devising and teaching coping strategies to dyslexic individuals. I hope this article has helped to reinforce how much of a long term difference those coping strategies can make –

  • increasing motivation,
  • reducing stress levels and
  • enabling the dyslexic person to achieve their full potential.

But just as importantly, I hope I have given you some ideas to try. I would be really keen to hear any thoughts you have on any of the strategies discussed here, or any that you use yourself!

Neil Cottrell


Useful links:

www.LexAble.com – Global AutoCorrect freetrial.

www.Lexdis.org.uk – Collection of tips andcoping strategies submitted by students withdisabilities.