Dyslexia Friendly Fonts.

This article appeared in our Summer Newsletter and each of the fonts was used to show it’s ‘look’ and ‘character’.  Sadly this is not reproduced here, but I felt it would be useful to  see the results of the survey to inform those producing script for dyslexics to read.

Many dyslexic and non-dyslexic people find that the readability of a piece of text varies depending upon the font (type face or type style) used.

Sans-serif fonts are generally preferred by dyslexic people because Serif fonts, with their ‘ticks’ and ‘tails’ at the end of most strokes tend to obscure the shapes of letters e.g. Times New Roman.

The BDA technology website says that designers of fonts found that Dyslexic readers favoured these features in a font:

  • Obvious ascenders and descenders (the ‘stems’ on letters like p and b).  If ascenders and descenders are too short the shape of the word is more difficult to identify and can make reading slower and less accurate.
  • b and d; p and q distinguished, not mirror images.
  • Rounded ‘g’ as in handwriting. Most like rounded ‘a’ too.
  • Letter-spacing, e.g. r, n together rn should not look like m.

Our particular interest in fonts started when we found out about a font called Gill Dyslexia. It can be found at: http://www.pixelscript.net/gilldyslexic.  It is £12.70 for the single users licence (although the price is first shown in dollars it gives the sum in pounds if you proceed to pay.) Sue contacted Pixelscript and was given the files for Gill dyslexia font so that it could be compared to other fonts.

We decided to run a survey on the HDA website to gain the opinions of dyslexic and non dyslexic readers on 5 different fonts. We chose:

A. Arial. This was chosen because it is the font that has been used for the newsletter in the past. It has a rounded g. The ascenders and descenders are reasonable. R and n can be seen but not as clearly as for Gill font or Comic Sans. (rm)

B. Century Gothic.  This was chosen because the ‘a’ is rounded as well as the ‘g’. The letters are spaced wider than Arial although descenders are less obvious. R and n are not clear. (rn)

C. Verdana. This is a font that is used extensively for web sites. It has a rounded ‘g’. The ascenders and descenders are reasonable. R and n look like m.(rn)

D. Gill dyslexic. This font is designed to help dyslexics by reducing the symmetry in the letters and by adding weight to the base line. It was the only font tested where the b/d p/q are not mirror images. It does not have a rounded a or g. The tall letters are accentuated. The letters r and n together do not look like m. (rn)

E. Comic Sans. Modelled on fonts in children’s comics. It has a rounded a and g and the best definition of descenders for the fonts tested. Also r and n together do not look like m. (rn)

People completing the survey were asked to judge the fonts on appearance and ease and speed of reading then to indicate their order of preference for all five fonts. The black fonts were displayed on a white background which we knew would be a bad combination for those with visual stress / Irlen Syndrome. This was deliberate as we wanted to know the effect of the various fonts.

The results.  (Sample size 100 people).

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Skipped
Arial

37

33

14

7

7

2

Century Gothic

12

8

35

23

19

 
Verdana

29

35

20

10

4

 
Gill Dyslexic

10

8

12

17

49

 
Comic Sans

14

12

15

40

17

 

Arial was the most popular font overall, and Verdana was also highly judged. It was the most highly rated for making the eyes ‘more relaxed’.

44% of respondents found Arial or Verdana fastest to read while 26% said that the font made no difference to speed.

 

Comic Sans and Century Gothic tended to be favoured by those under 19. Two people said that they like Sassoon (a commercial font that looks like primary school writing). Three people mentioned their preference for Calibri.

 

Gill dyslexic was the least favourite font overall. However we were interested in the 10 people who made it their first choice. 4 of them were dyslexic and /or had visual stress. I know 2 of these voters and they were extremely enthusiastic about it.

 

31% of the respondents were dyslexic and 19% experienced visual stress. The majority of these people favoured Arial or Verdana. Comments included: ‘The best fonts are neat and tidy. If the writing is wavy then white overlaps the parts that stick out and the words begin to sizzle.’ ‘I find that fancy writing such as D moves’

Other comments emphasise the usefulness of aspects other than font: ‘The use of double line spacing and coloured backgrounds help more than the typeface used’.

It is beneficial to know your own, and other individual’s, particular preferences when it comes to font selection. It is worth exploring the various options. There are 4 further dyslexia fonts on the BDA technology website: Lexia Readable and Open-Dyslexic which are free and Dyslexie and Sylexiad which are commercial.

We acknowledge that 100 people responding is not a huge sample. In retrospect it may also have been fairer if we had randomised the order in which the fonts were presented. However we feel that the results of the survey are fairly conclusive in terms of the fonts we should choose for the newsletter. We will continue to use Arial or Verdana with line spacing and a coloured background.

 

 

Jacky Gurney and Sue Kerrigan.

 

http://bdatech.org/what-technology/typefaces-for-dyslexia/#lexia

http://www.pixelscript.net/gilldyslexic

http://dyslexiauntied.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/fonts-and-dyslexia.html

http://www.sassoonfont.co.uk/index.html

Trial of Spell Read & Write System

Mavis Kerrigan – an Independent Learning and Communications Consultant, who lives in West End, near Southampton – is looking for 6 people to trial her Tutor-Coach Training programme. It is aimed at Parents, Carers and Tutors who would like to help others read, write and spell successfully.

As this is a trial, Mavis is offering her skills at a much reduced price.  The course will involve 5 days over the next 5 months with email and phone support as you develop your teaching. If you pay for all 5 sessions at the start then the cost is only £225. The first day is going to be either Saturday May 19th or Wednesday May 23rd, and Mavis would like to know your preference as soon as possible.

To find out more:

Phone Mavis on 023 8046 6679.
BEST TIMES:
Evenings between 6.30pm and 8pm (Not Sat/Sun)
or
Mornings between 8.00am and 9.30am any day
or e-mail maviskerrigan@gmail.com

Quick Reads have new titles

To celebrate the publication of eight brand-new Quick Reads titles in February 2012, we’re encouraging adults across the country to fall in love with reading.

Quick Reads are brilliant, bite-sized books specially written by bestselling authors and celebrities. With a great range of titles on offer, they are the perfect tool for inspiring adults to pick up a good book. People who have stopped reading or find reading tough often experience the enjoyment and benefits of reading for the first time with Quick Reads, giving them the confidence and encouragement to go on to read more.

This year’s authors include Maeve Binchy, Alexander McCall Smith, James Caan and Tony Parsons to name but a few. Find out more about the brand new titles.

A great resource for use in any setting

With their short, accessible format, Quick Reads are widely used in Skills for Life and ESOL classes in colleges, community centres, libraries, prisons and workplaces across the country. They are also popular in hospitals, stroke recovery units, dyslexia centres, care homes, family learning groups, pre-schools, organisations working with homeless people and Traveller communities, and Army and RAF bases.

 

Register to receive the latest Quick Reads information and resources so that we can help you make the most of these books. We’re also offering you the opportunity to tell us how we can make Quick Reads work better for you. Tell us!
Quick Reads Reading Breaks

This year, to provide a hook to engage as many adults as possible in reading, we’re encouraging organisations across the country to hold a Quick Reads Reading Break. Free downloadable toolkits to support Reading Break organisers can be downloaded from the Quick Reads website.Workplace packs and Family Reading Break packs, which include discounted copies of the brand-new titles, are also available to purchase to support your activities.

Reading Break activity will kick-start on Tuesday 7 February 2012 to coincide with the launch of the new titles, and activities will run through to World Book Day on Thursday 1 March 2012 and beyond. Find out more.

New resources available soon

Look out for a range of other downloadable resources that will be available from February 2012, including chapter samplers, author interviews, learning resources and a toolkit for reading groups. Register now to find out more.

Look out for a range of other downloadable resources that will be available from February 2012, including chapter samplers, author interviews, learning resources and a toolkit for reading groups. Register now to find out more.

Provided at cost by authors and publishers to support the Quick Reads charity, Quick Reads are only £1.99 each. 

 

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
http://www.clarosoftware.com/faq_info.php?cPath=333&tab=x#3

“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
http://www.clarosoftware.com/index.php?cPath=333

Assessors
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

Librivox – free audio books

On the BDA forum recently, Jamie Munro drew attention to the American site Librivox –  http://librivox.org . Their objective is to make all books in the ‘public domain’ available – for free – in audio format on the internet.
‘Public domain’ means that the books are no longer subject to coyright legislation. In the USA this generally means texts that have been published before 1923.
The books are read by volunteers so the quality is variable. However, Jamie drew attention to the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which you could try before downloading http://www.archive.org/details/adventures_sherlock_holmes_rg_librivox
 The Internet Archive http://www.archive.org  also has loads of old radio versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories you can download to you MP3 player or listen to online. Although these are not all written by Conan Doyle, here are more than 125 featuring among others Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce and Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson.http://www.archive.org/details/OTR_Sherlock_Holmes_smurfmeat .
Happy listening!

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.

Reading.

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!

Spelling.

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.

Conclusions.

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

neil.cottrell@LexAble.com

Useful links:

www.LexAble.com – Global AutoCorrect freetrial.

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

Drama And Dyslexia

To an extent, all children engage in speech, movement and drama activities. This happens particularly when they are younger, since these are features of the primary school programme. The activities are designed to be fun and motivating in an effort to unlock the creative spirit, and indeed, music, art and drama combine to balance the curriculum in the early years.
 
Even at this stage, perceptive teachers may recognize natural talent, but may wonder why some may not make the expected progress.
Drama has long been recognised as an important part of the curriculum, providing as it does, the opportunity to express feelings of anger, sadness  and frustration in a controlled situation. Although it may, and often does, provide a platform for performance, this is not its main or primary purpose. Drama lessons give children the opportunity to explore themes, to work in a group, to flirt with leadership and to raise self-esteem.
 
The importance of self-esteem for learning and for life cannot be over estimated. The lack of it can form a barrier, which prevents an individual from achieving his or her potential. Sadly, this applies to many who have specific learning difficulties, because they feel they are not quite good enough. It is easy to see how dyslexic children may have difficulties when it comes to drama. Lack of confidence is probably the most acute problem, but then there are the other characteristics of dyslexia. These include: 
   
Lack of fluency and speed in reading
Inability to use context in reading
Hesitancy and losing place in reading
Failure to recognise simple words
Low level of comprehension
Poor organisation and time keeping
 

If one equates drama with performance only, one can see that these difficulties would stand in the way of potential achievement, and you might think that it was not a good area for dyslexic students to be in. However, it is worth remembering that a number of our more successful actors and actresses are dyslexic and are becoming more willing to share with others how they overcame their problems. Susan Hampshire is a good example, and until the publication of her autobiography “Susan’s Story” few would have been aware of her struggle with dyslexia. Undiagnosed until adulthood, she then became a prominent campaigner in the UK. Her book on dyslexia, “Every Letter Counts” was highly acclaimed and in 1995 she was appointed an OBE in connection with that work.

‘Specific learning difficulties are more prevalent amongst people who are good at visual or performance based skills’ This is a very positive statement, and suggests that Drama may be an excellent route for those with dyslexia.
 
It is interesting to note that the Central School of Speech and Drama has a long history of welcoming students with a range of disabilities and invites dyslexic students to contact them early so that they can work together to develop a plan to meet the student’s study needs right from the start.
The DSS (Disability and Dyslexia Service) is part of Student Support Services. The Student Union has had an elected DSS officer in post since 2007 so that any issues or difficulties can be discussed in order that accessibility and awareness can be improved. DSS services include:

  • Free dyslexia screening
  • Dyslexia diagnostic appointments
  • 1-1 specific study skills support
  • 1-1 enabling and assistive technology training
  • mentoring
  • note-taking.

With this sort of support in place, it is little wonder that so many of our talented, dyslexic young people find fulfilment in the study of Drama. They may not all become stars, but they will have grown in confidence and will find it easier to cope with the challenges that they meet in life.

Edwina Cole.

Further Information:

‘Dyslexia and Drama’ by Helen Eadon (A BDA/Fulton publication).

“Susan’s Story’ by Susan Hampshire.

“Every Letter Counts…..Winning in Life despite Dyslexia” by Susan Hampshire.

Central School of Speech and Drama.

presented a documentary about  her dyslexia

Winner of Strictly Come Dancing and actress Kara Tointon 
on BBC 3 as part of the series ‘Don’t call me stupid’.During the programme Kara speaks about her ambition to read a book from cover to cover and states that she has a reading age of twelve.She explores the impact dyslexia has on her day to day life in relation to her career and organisational skills.
 
Kara visits a school for dyslexic pupils and finds out how multi sensory teaching can help. She is shown a method to help her learn her lines using colours, sounds, buzzwords and physical movement to trigger memory.   

A large coloured diary helps her to organise her time. Coloured lenses help Kara to see print more clearly. She reports ‘The filter calms the page down in my eyes. The black writing stands out. I can read more quickly, confidently and calmly that at any time in my life.’
A recording of this interesting and useful programme is available to borrow from the HDA library or see the programme in four parts on YouTube. Search the web for Kara Tointon. Don’t call me stupid. YouTube.
 
 

  

  

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 

.
 
 
 
 
 

 

On the website for the Central School of Speech and Drama (part of the University of London) it states

R u A diSlxic addult

My name is Simon Hodges and I am a dyslexic adult.
I was diagnosed seven years ago at the age of 40 when
I started an education course.
Was it that awe inspiring eureka moment? Well not
quite.
‘The square peg trying to fit into the round hole’
All my life ever since I can remember I have always felt and been different from others
as I was growing up and through the stages of my life, as a child, a teenager, an
adolescent and an adult.
The story is an all too familiar one I am afraid, and I am no exception. I am sure that I
could, like many others write a book about my experiences relating directly to the
effects of dyslexia.
Just to throw a bit of flavour into my point, I remember the fairly constant and relentless
comments of ridicule, being called an idiot, stupid or thick amongst others and of
course the older I got new harsher and more descriptive words were learnt and they
were added too.
Another particular instance was at secondary school in an English class (where else)
the teacher had been reading a passage from a chapter in a book that the class was
reading. The reading stopped and I was asked to comment on what had just been read.
Although I had been listening I was now frantically looking at the book trying to find
what had just been read but I of course was looking at pages full of words, some of
which I was familiar with and others which I was not and none of it made any sense.
But of course it wouldn’t, unbeknown to me my reading age was very low, my short
term memory retention was virtually nil and of course my cognitive processing skills of
any kind were nonexistent.
Then came the words “Haven’t you been reading you stupid boy, or are you just
thick?”. Of course the class erupted into laughter including the teacher.
Did it hurt? Yes it did and I can remember that as if it had happened just yesterday.
I have had countless instances like that throughout my life and still do on occasions and
I have to say, that sometimes comments are from those that you would think should
know better.
At an age in your life when the holistic development of characteristics and
personalities are vital, the degeneration and corruption of self esteem, self worth and
confidence that are borne out of instances like that can be and are often immeasurably
damaging.
The feelings of incompatibility and isolation that often begin to immerge can continue
and have troublesome effects on your life.
I am sure that we can all relate to the above, but let us turn to something a little more
positive.
I began this article by stating “was it that awe inspiring eureka moment, well not quite”.
That is true it wasn’t but, what it did was start me on a journey, slow but none the less a
journey of self discovery, a journey that still continues today. A crucial key and part of
that journey has been to align myself with other people that have dyslexia and with
those that really understand the condition and I feel that is important and this is why.
There are many thousands of people out there with dyslexia of varying degrees just like
you and me.
I have found that being able to talk and listen to other
people naturally in a relaxed unforced environment
has had enormous benefit to me.
When you start conversations with other dyslexics
you immediately strike a connection discovering
many of the things that you have done all your life to
disguise and cover up certain skills areas that you
have been lead to believe you are sorely lacking in.
The point is that you are not nor really lacking or deficient but that your learning needs
to be met in a different way.
I have been very fortunate in as much as I have conversations face to face with some
very high profile celebrities and professionals really ‘top draw’ people as well as
ordinary folk just like me, and you know what, the stories and the tales are all just the
same.
The feelings of isolation and awkwardness seem very much to take a back seat and the
realisation of not being thick or stupid very quickly come to the forefront of your
thinking.
We at the Hampshire Dyslexic Association are looking to start an adult dyslexic group
which need not be formal but just somewhere that like minded dyslexics can perhaps
meet on a regular basis, maybe in a setting that will encourage your confidence to grow
or to help others see that being a dyslexic has hidden treasures and possibly alter the
way you think about yourself for ever.
If you are reading this and you are dyslexic or you know someone who is and think that
this might be of benefit then please do contact us. Simon Hodges
Please contact Simon by email: simonhodge63@tiscali.co.uk or phone: 07919035569