[Kealie Mardell | Print Editor]
The week commencing the 3rd of November is Dyslexia Awareness Week 2014. The theme this year is “Dyslexia Matters…” and addresses the ways in which dyslexia matters to everyone, across both education and business environments.
According to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), dyslexia affects one in 10 people in the UK. This means that in an average class of 30 people, around three would be dyslexic.
The BDA defines dyslexia as a learning difficulty which affects the process of learning reading, spelling, writing, and sometimes numeracy. People with dyslexia may also have accompanying weaknesses in short-term memory, sequencing, and the speed at which they process information.
Emma Diston, Deputy Head of Disability Services at the University of Hertfordshire, said that there are approximately 100 students with a diagnosis of dyslexia who have contacted Disability Services so far this year. They expect to assess a further 200 students who have not been diagnosed yet.
For these students, Disability Services can create an individual Study Needs Agreement, which identifies their needs and can be shared with teaching teams to “ensure differentiation takes place appropriately,” said Diston. The agreement can include entitlement to things such as additional time in exams, specialist tuition, a Disability Adviser, or support with disclosure.
“The most effective mode of differentiation is when lecturers or presenters give accompanying notes or hand-outs in advance of the lecture or presentation,” said Diston. “This enables students to annotate slides or hand-outs and not have to write notes and listen to the delivery.”
Another method is to use a digital voice recorder so that students can replay the information given at a later date so it can be recorded in their preferred method, she said. According to the BDA, some of the other ways dyslexia can be supported in classrooms is with varied teaching methods using visual aids, and by changing the background colour on presentations to ensure it is easy to read.
Dyslexia is often identified within schools, and the earlier it is diagnosed the more support that can be offered. It is something that can affect people throughout their education and into the world of work after they graduate.
If you have been diagnosed with dyslexia or find yourself struggling and think this may be the cause, Disability Services are there to help. You can attend drop-in sessions which are advertised on StudyNet, or book an appointment or assessment by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The University are hoping to run some additional study skills sessions for students and additional drop-ins to discuss the advantages of engaging with Disability Services,” said Diston. “I will also be tweeting information throughout the week!”
By raising an awareness of dyslexia, the BDA hopes to take a big step forward in creating a dyslexic friendly society where those with dyslexia can succeed and reach their full potential. For more information visit bdadyslexia.org.uk or speak to a member of the Disability Services team.