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.”

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.

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.

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.