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.

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.

I Wonder What its Like to be Dyslexic

Sam Barclay, has had to deal with dyslexia
and this year managed to obtain a First Class Honours degree at
Portsmouth University in Graphic Design. He has also obtained a
commendation from the International Society for Typographical Design
(ISTD) for a piece of work he produced about what its like to be
dyslexic. He now has a passion for typography.

The book he produced has been shown to the SENCO he had at primary
school, and also an Educational Psychologist, who have both raved
about it. After some persuading, Sam has now decided to make the book
available to a wider audience. You can read about it here and also see
what others are saying about it at:


Sam would welcome your financial support to help with the publishing costs.

‘Dyslexia: An Impairment of Language Learning’.

BPS Fellow to discuss the impact of dyslexia on society


Professor Maggie Snowling, President of St. John’s College, Oxford, will
give this year’sBPS/BA Lecture
the title ‘Dyslexia: An Impairment of Language Learning’. She is a
Fellow of both the British Psychological Society and the British

The lecture will take place at The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House
Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH, on Tuesday 24 September 2013 from 6 to 7.15 
p.m. It is a free event and seats will be allocated on a first come, 
first served basis.

Professor Snowling will discuss the impact dyslexia has on society and
asks whether it is possible to intervene early to ameliorate its impact.

Without the ability to read fluently and with accurate comprehension,
many children can experience a downward spiral of poor educational
achievement and career prospects. Studies following the development of
children at family-risk of dyslexia have revealed that it is associated
with language delays and speech difficulties in pre-school years before
reading instruction even begins. Literacy outcomes in children depend
not only on the risk factors that predispose reading difficulties but
also on protective factors which mitigate the risk.

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.

Glue Ear

On 6th March, Hampshire Dyslexia Association held a ‘glue ear’ event in the ‘Intech’ planetarium near Winchester.  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.

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:


What is Visual Stress? – Sue Kerrigan

People with Visual Stress do not see a page of text the way it is written – with text all lined up neatly in rows.  For them, the text may be swirling in circles or running down the page like a waterfall with whole words or individual letters moving.  Along with these illusions they may also suffer from headaches, feeling sick or sore eyes when they read.  Visual Stress can also be the problem for people who frequently yawn whilst reading or use a finger to keep their place, rub their eyes or read slowly with poor comprehension.

Visual Stress, is very common among people diagnosed with dyslexia – around 35-40% of those with dyslexia also have visual stress.  In the general population the prevalence is thought to be around 5-20%. It also has many different names: Visual Dyslexia, Scoptic Sensitivity, Meares-Irlen or Irlen Syndrome and Binocular Amblyopia.

I suffer from Visual Stress and as a child I experienced sickness and a stuffy head whilst reading.  I experience letters swapping places and I also see halos around words.  I find it hard to read black text on a very white background and even harder to look at white text on a black background because I see the line spaces above and below the white text as shining halo lines.  Using my finger to read helps.  The spaces between the text stand out more than the words I am reading, I have learnt to not be distracted by these space patterns but as a child instead of reading I would play games chasing the patterns down the page.

You can go on the web and see some videos illustrating Visual Stress here: http://blog.letmelearn.co.uk/what-is-visual-stress/

If you think you, your child or a child in your class has visual stress there is a screening test available:   http://colouredlensesandvisualstress.com/screening-test/     If the test indicates visual stress then it is well worth discovering if the use of colour decreases the symptoms as this is often the case. There is a very inexpensive way of finding out if using a tint over the text will make a difference.  Try a pack of coloured reading rulers (overlays).  If they help then other products are also available e.g. coloured lined paper. See: http://www.letmelearn.co.uk/product-category/visual-stress/


If coloured overlays are helpful then you will further benefit by going to a specialist optician (optometrist) who is able to test for Visual Stress along with the standard sight test. In Hampshire, Leighton’s, Owen Leigh and Wingate’s Opticians are able to provide this service and you can find other opticians: http://colouredlensesandvisualstress.com/providers-of-coloured-lens/                 Specialist opticians will be able to provide you with coloured glasses to wear that reduce the symptoms of visual stress. You may find that there is a difference between the overlay tint you find most helpful and the glasses tint you find most helpful.

This is Michelle Doyle’s story about her son and her on going fight to get NHS funding.   “After years with my son Aaron struggling with his reading and writing and being given the impression that he was lazy in class, in Nov 2009 at the age of eleven, my son was given a coloured overlay by a teacher at his primary school.

After I questioned him about this I was shocked and extremely surprised to find out that when he looked at a page of writing it moved around the page. I spoke to his optician and was informed my son has Visual Stress.  He needed two pairs of glasses: one for severe long sightedness and a coloured pair for his Visual Stress. The NHS would not contribute to the cost of the coloured glasses.
I got in touch with the local Primary Care Trust and after about 6 months I finally managed to get his distance vision prescription put into his coloured lenses.

I contacted my MP who wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and the Chief Executive for NHS in my area.  The replies basically told me what I already knew: that vouchers will not cover the cost of tinted lenses – only the prescription lens. I do not feel that the question of funding for children with visual stress was answered at all.

My MP wrote to the Group Director for Social Care and Learning. His reply gave me the impression that he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I also got in touch with the Education Dept. for Disabled Children.  They then referred me to The Visual Impairment Coordinator for my area. Even she had to research Visual Stress before she got back to me!

To raise awareness of Visual Stress and the need for funding from the NHS I have started a group on Facebook called ‘Parents of Kids with Visual Stress’.   Our members can discuss the problems that they are having and also get ideas of how to tackle things from other people. We are there to support each other with our fight.

I also have an e-petition running for the funding of tinted lenses for Visual Stress: http://www.causes.com/actions/1677167 I need to get 100,000 signatures for it to be discussed in Parliament. The more votes that we can get the quicker the help can be put in place to help our children.

Testimonials Courtesy of Wingate’s Optician’s in Portsmouth: “As the test and lenses for glasses was very expensive we felt that my son should try the overlay for a while before we could make the decision to get a pair of glasses. After some time the difference was very noticeable, my son’s confidence had grown and we felt that we should make the investment in the glasses to help him further. I must say they have been fantastic, my son uses them in all his school work including reading the board, working on computers, reading books, all writing and maths.”

“Since she has started wearing these glasses her reading age has shot up to nearly where it should be and her confidence and self esteem has improved.”

“The glasses I have been given have given me confidence and passion in reading, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me to achieve reading a whole book cover to cover is the biggest achievement for me.”

Testimonial from a Parent:                                                                                              “I think the confidence that the coloured overlay has given my daughter is amazing. She is now focused, motivated and her new love of reading is amazing. If only she had received a diagnosis earlier, that’s why this fight is so important not only for our children, but for those out there that may now be diagnosed earlier.”  Mrs L Guinane.

For further information see: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/further-information/eyes-and-dyslexia.html                                                                                                                           http://www.dyslexic.com/vision                                                                                                    Sue Kerrigan.

New JCQ Access Arrangement regulations

Thanks to Jean Hutchins for alerting us to the new JCQ Access Arrangements regulations. I am particularly interested in the one about being allowed a screen reader in papers testing reading. It is allowed because the candidate is able to work independently. Here are the links:

Department for Education: New JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications)
22 August 2012.

Some of the main changes are:

* The JCQ mobile phone poster only needs to be displayed outside the
examination room.
* A candidate is allowed to use an electronic bilingual dictionary.
* A candidate is allowed to use an iPad or tablet where provided by
the centre.
* Prohibited electronic communication/storage devices now include
wristwatches with a data storage device.
* An invigilator is allowed to read the question paper rubric to
* Centres are able to record candidate attendance data through their
management information system (MIS) and submit a centre generated
attendance register to an awarding organisation.
* A computer reader is allowed in a paper or sections of a paper
testing reading.
* The instructions for conducting controlled assessments document has
been revamped to provide subject teachers, examination officers and
heads of centre with a single definitive source of generic guidance
and instructions for all GCSE subjects.
* Modified enlarged paper formats have been amended to A4 modified 18
point bold and A4 modified 24 point bold.

leading to:
with details of access arrangements, including use of iPads if normal
means of working.

and a link to an order form for 2011/2012 Patoss guide.