Aisling McGuire head of Learning Support at Belhaven School in Dunbar recently posted an article “Why We Should Teach All Pupils as if They have Dyslexia” which gives some ideas on how the tech tools that are available for dyslexic users would benefit all students. These include changing the background colors on electronic presentation boards so they are not bright white with black print, breaking tasks down, over learning or repetition, organizational skills as well as using software that was made to help dyslexic students that could be used by any students. These are great ideas.
Having been a teacher for many years and a relative to several learners with ADHD, ADD and Dyslexia as well as being the person who likes technology enough to want to help others use it as well as possible, I would like to add a few more ideas/observations.
- As Aisling McGuire talked about many learners (child and adult) do read better if they don’t have to read black print on a bright white background (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome). Teaching learners to change the brightness of their screen or the background color in the application they are using if appropriate can be very helpful.
- Some learners (or older folks) have trouble with print size. Many applications allow print size to be easily adjusted larger or smaller to help users. This seems so simple and something that everyone should know how to do, but you would be surprised how underused a skill it can be, even to students who have grown up with technology. When working with college students, I was surprised this was often overlooked.
- Some learners also can read faster in a selection that is not quite so wide. If the application allows, they may adjust margins or page size to give a reading area less wide than the norm.
- Some students who are having to read above their level for content materials might benefit from a reading program which will highlight the words as it reads the text aloud so the student can see words as the text is read to them.
Repetition or Over learning
- Students have many skills that early on may need to be over learned so they can be readily accessed to be used with later higher skills. This kind of practice can be encouraged and motivated with technology based games where the student uses their skills repeatedly to gain higher scores, etc.
- Again having a reading program or a recorded books can allow hear the article being read, allowing for repetition when there may not be time for sitting down to read it again. Listening while doing the dishes or other chores can make the time more productive.
- Instructors can provide organizers for students to help them better track the information they are gaining in reading or research. These could be graphic organizers which could be typed into, (Presentation Slide programs usually do a really good job of this, allowing students to type in the shapes on the organizer). For other situations, a form in a word processor program for each article to use while researching to document the questions they need to answer and the information they actually found that would be helpful.
- With some software the text can be highlighted with different colors. Students can use the different highlight colors to delineate the information they are finding in the article by topic.
- Using calendars and to do lists on an electronic device can help students with organization in completing tasks and knowing what deadlines are approaching.
- Post-it note programs can also help students organize and keep track of many necessary things. These can usually be color coded as well.
These are a few ideas noted while pondering the article. It is hoped that you will think of even more. If you wish to share, please add to the comment spaces below.