How the Workplace Can Adjust for Individuals with Dyslexia

dyslexia in the workplace

We are on day four of Dyslexia Awareness Week in conjunction with the British Dyslexic Association (BDA)!

There have been some really inspiring stories, such as teenager Jack Harley-Walsh who, after being faced many obstacles with his dyslexia, has started his dream course at university. It’s great to see so many uplifting experiences being shared, as these stories are a reminder that with the right support and equipment, individuals with the condition can adapt well to the classroom and the workplace.

Helping Each Person Adjust

Since the 2010 equality act, it’s the law to ensure that employees with dyslexia are not discriminated against and that workplaces are able to provide reasonable changes to ensure they offer a dyslexic-friendly environment. It’s important to note that when making changes in the workplace that each individual is assessed so their severity levels can be determined.

There are many solutions that can benefit employees with dyslexia in the workplace such as:

  • Installing a dyslexic friendly font onto the individual’s computer, as it enhances readability
  • Providing digital recording devices that can help with the individual’s note-taking skills, such as Sonoscent Audio Notetaker
  • Mind mapping software, which offers the individual a framework for thinking, fleshing out ideas and constructing presentations
  • Text to speech software that allows web pages, word documents and PDFs be read aloud to the employee
  • Ensuring that any documentation for meetings is given to the individual beforehand, so they can have time to process and prepare
  • Visual stress software, such as ClaroView, which amongst many things allows the user to change the screen colour and offers a screen ruler for tracking

dyslexia in the workplaceIf you have dyslexia, it can also help if you discuss it with your work colleagues (if you want to, of course), as some people may not fully understand the condition. By doing this, it helps your colleagues with how they can support you so you can master every task.

Even better, iansyst run dyslexia awareness sessions for the workplace, which will place your colleagues into the shoes of someone who has the condition and really get to understand the everyday challenges of dyslexia.

At iansyst, we are continually offering new software and solutions that can help with dyslexia, whether in the workplace or classroom. We provide assistive technology that can offer reading, writing and spelling support, plus a range of hardware such as scanning pens, digital recorders and headsets that can increase productivity.

If you have any questions about our assistive technology or training sessions, please ring on 01223 420 101.

How Can Teachers Support Dyslexic Students?

dyslexia support

To continue our support for the British Dyslexic Association’s (BDA) Dyslexia Awareness Week, we want to look at how teachers can help their students who are affected by the condition.  When it comes to diagnosing dyslexia, teachers can be critical to this process as they are more likely to spot early signs of dyslexia in children.

Since there are 1.2 million children in the UK who have dyslexia, it’s integral that teachers have the knowledge to support students who are affected and help them develop coping strategies, so they can reach their full potential.

Offering Dyslexia Support

Dyslexia affects each person differently, so it’s important that teachers use a range of different methods to help with each student’s performance.

dyslexic support When planning a lesson, take into account that each exercise contains instructions that are straight to the point and omits any unnecessary detail and words.  Keep to simple, clear sentences and make sure the layout is straight forward so it’s easier for the student to follow.

By inserting diagrams and images into your exercises, this makes it easier for students to understand the instructions, especially if they don’t know every word. Again, spacing out instructions and making sure the text is broken up can help relieve eye strain and increase readability.

Try and insert different background colours and fonts, which can give weight to the text and ensure that it’s visually easier for the student to digest. At iansyst, we offer a selection of products that helps relieve visual stress, such as colour overlays that aids with the student’s reading fluency and duration.

It’s also important to look out for areas where students with dyslexia thrive. Understandably, dyslexia can affect self-esteem and is sometimes thought of as being a disadvantage in the workplace and classroom, so it’s especially important to encourage their strengths. It has been observed that children with dyslexia are creative, have strong reasoning and problem solving skills and are great team players.

If you wish to learn more on how you can help your students who are affected by the condition, we have a range of assistive technology that offers dyslexia support such as our text-to-speech software such as ClaroRead and our Texthelp Read and Write.

For more information on our products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team on 01223 420101.

 

Identifying Early Signs of Dyslexia in Children

Today marks the start of Dyslexia Awareness Week (2nd – 6th of October) in association with the British Dyslexia Association (BDA)! At iansyst, we hope this week will encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences, whether you have the condition yourself or if you are a parent of a child with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Dyslexia can affect a person’s reading, writing and spelling but it can also affect other areas such as working memory, sequencing, orientation, time management and much more. The severity levels differ from each individual, so not everyone with the condition will experience the same symptoms, so it’s important to understand what to look out for, especially if you are a teacher or parent. Since dyslexia affects an estimated one in ten people in the UK, being able to identify the condition early can help those who are affected, so each individual can receive the relevant support and tools to increase their confidence for their time at school and throughout the later stages of their life.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia becomes more apparent in children once they reach school, however it can be possible to detect signs in preschool children. Symptoms can include:

  • Problems with speech, such as not being able to pronounce longer words and getting words mixed up
  • Unable to express themselves, either having difficulty articulating sentences or remembering words.
  • They may finding rhyming difficult and have little interest in the alphabet

You may also detect a delay in their speech development for their age group, however it’s important to point out this this can also be linked with problems other than dyslexia.

Signs of Dyslexia in School Children

When children reach school age, this is when symptoms become more present, as they are encourage to read, write and spell on a daily basis. It’s important to look out for the following:

  • Poor and inconsistent spelling, such as adding and omitting letters
  • Difficulty reading aloud and regularly making errors
  • Poor handwriting
  • Struggling to carry out directions
  • Having trouble learning sequences such as the months of the year
  • Poor phonological awareness
  • Slow writing speed

Dyslexia doesn’t have a cure but there are lots of tools out there to overcome any difficulties faced by the condition. At iansyst, we have dedicated assistive technology to help you or your child fulfil their potential and instil confidence. We offer a range of products, such as Typing Tutors, text-to-speech and note taking software and equipment that relieves visual stress.

For more information on our full range of products, please take a look at our website or if you have any questions, ring us on 01223 420 101.

Speech Recognition, Dyslexia and Disabilities

“Dictating to your computer is so easy. No typing, no more spelling mistakes, it’s the dyslexic person’s dream.”

Many people with dyslexia, physical difficulties and other problems with literacy may struggle with the concept of spelling. Therefore, speech recognition can really help improve the productivity and outcomes for people with these difficulties.

Over the past few years, innovation in technology has grown immensely and speech recognition has come on in leaps and bounds. It is now used in many professions and in many scenarios: from medical and law professionals using speech recognition for productivity to individuals calling their bank and talking to a digital receptionist to confirm identification.

For those who tried speech recognition years and years ago, the innovation within this technology has greatly improved in accuracy. This has also removed additional frustrations from the lack of technology developments. Here are some of our helpful tips on using speech recognition software…

Q: What’s the most important factor for success? The hardware? The software?
A: No; it’s the person

The latest software (Dragon Professional individual) has really solved the technical problems. A clear speaker, using a relatively up to date computer with a decent microphone and with a little experience should get very good recognition results and gain real productivity benefits. We will outline later the technical problems that can still arise.

Even though speech recognition has come a long way, the software can still lead to frustration and a lack of success. Today, the main reasons for this will be human, not technical.

Speech recognition software is more likely to be successful if you are motivated because:

  • You have a disability
    • RSI makes typing difficult
    • Dyslexia makes spelling difficult
    • Dyspraxia makes handwriting and using the keyboard difficult
    • Speech recognition is widely used as an Assistive Technology
  • You need to write whilst using your hands for something else (e.g. radiologists or pathologists)
  • You have patience to put up with some inevitable initial frustrations
  • You have support 
  • Lawyers, academics, authors, journalists, students
  • You can speak clearly (people with severe speech impediments, such as dysarthria, can get satisfactory results through perseverance).

In addition, you are more likely to be a “great dictator” if:

  • You can speak fluently
  • You use a wide vocabulary
  • You can find the words you need easily (you have good word retrieval)
  • You already understand word processing & punctuation
  • You can multi-task, that is you can use the software whilst composing text
  • You have as much privacy as you feel you need to dictate confidently

None of the bullet points are essential and some individual ones can be overcome and some contradict each other; people with dyslexia often have problems with word retrieval, for example, but the more points that you can tick, the more likely that speech recognition will work for you.

 

AccuracyAccuracy

If you are looking for productivity gains from dictation software (and you should be), accuracy is hugely important. Each mistake that you make takes longer to correct compared with dictating a word correctly. So, it is worth going to a lot of trouble to improve accuracy by one or two percentage points, this is particularly important for dyslexic people who are liable to have more difficulty finding and correcting an error than somebody who reads and spells well.

 

Microphones

For obvious reasons, the microphones that are usually provided with the software have to be cheap and although they may be adequate for sound input quality, they are often not good for other reasons. They may be impossible to adjust adequately for many head shapes (“Change your head!” we hear them cry). People will often do better with the ear piece behind their ear rather than over it. They may be uncomfortable and the mics often, in consequence, refuse to keep in position.

If your microphone is too far away the signal will be weaker than it was adjusted. Alternatively, if it’s too close that you accidentally breath into the mic or it brushes your face, this will significantly spoil the sound quality and cause poor recognition. So, you will usually get better results with a higher quality microphone than the one that is supplied in the box. Sometimes it may make the difference between success and failure. We would recommend a USB microphone which is direct and easy to adjust.

Microphone adjustment:

It is absolutely critical to have the microphone (“mic”) properly adjusted and we suspect that this is the single most likely cause of frustration and failure in dictation. Unfortunately, the setup programs for you and attempts to tell you whether your microphone is properly adjusted and it may still tell you that your microphone is adjusted properly when it is far from in the optimal position. For the new user this is a “Catch 22” situation. Until you have had the system running with a properly adjusted microphone, you do not know how well it should work. If it is not properly adjusted, the training process can be very frustrating and ultimately pointless.

Support

Support and Training

It helps a lot to have somebody who knows speech recognition to guide you through the early stages. You can save a lot of wasted and frustrating time with a quiet word in your ear, “Slow down a little”, “Don’t shout”, “Move the microphone a little”, “Speak like a newsreader”, “This is the best way to make that correction.”

Ideally, if you can afford it a professional one-to-one trainer will save you time and give you the best start.

Training

Training can be very valuable, as you can learn how to use the system and to be able to recognise when it’s working properly and when it’s not.

For somebody new to dictation there are a lot of things to get right: diction style, microphone adjustment and positioning, making corrections, punctuation and the voice commands. Dictation is a bit like riding a bike and it can be very useful to have the help of someone who knows the ropes and can guide you.

Being trained by a professional will make the small modifications to speech style (pace, clarity, particularly of unstressed words, evenness of volume) make a big difference. If they know how well a system should work it also overcomes the problem of not being able to tell whether the microphone is properly adjusted, which means less time is spent training with a non-performing system.

Training the software

Traditionally, you had to spend some time training the software to recognise your voice. Now, you read a prepared script from the screen and the software will then adjust itself to better recognise your voice. In addition to this, the program learns from what it gets right and from your corrections, so its accuracy will improve as time goes on.

You can skip the training (which normally takes about 15 minutes) with the latest NaturallySpeaking and just pitch straight in to dictating. This can be useful with people who have reading problems, as the training can be difficult. We would also recommend another strategy, which is for a support person to whisper phrase by phrase into the user’s ear.

Working with children

There is still a lot to discover about using dictation systems with children, however the points made above all apply.

On the whole, children are not producing masses of written work, so are less likely to have the motivation to persevere with speech recognition but where spelling, handwriting and composing are major problems, then speech recognition can be hugely liberating and allow children to express their ideas on paper fluently for the first time in their lives.

Dictation systems can encourage children to speak clearly. It is important to make sure that you are familiar with the program and that it is recognising you well before you try it with a child, particularly if that child already has too much experience of failure. It is often a good idea to make corrections for the child to start off with as this lessens the cognitive load of dealing with the new system and allows them to see what they have achieved without the extra learning and possible frustrations of correcting errors.

Studies have shown that students with learning difficulties who use speech recognition:

Use longer and richer words
• Write more creatively
• Organise work better
• Complete more work

and counter intuitively, but it makes sense if you think about it:

Improve reading
• Improve spelling
• Produce better hand-written work

What is dyslexia?

Just what is dyslexia? Here we give a brief overview of dyslexia as well as more academic definitions.

 

Dyslexia is a neurological education condition which affects an estimated 10% of the UK population. It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. Dyslexia is not affected or caused by intelligence and there is no cure but individuals can overcome it. Individuals with dyslexia will be affected differently but tend to have difficulties in some of the following areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Sequencing
  • Rapid naming
  • Working memory
  • Expressing thoughts
  • Differentiating left from right
  • Orientation
  • Short term memory
  • Time management
  • Organisation

It is important to remember that many children and adults with dyslexia have strengths and talents that can be used to compensate for these difficulties. The British Dyslexia Association lists possible strengths as including:

  • Innovative thinkers
  • Excellent trouble shooters
  • Intuitive problem solving
  • Creative in many ways
  • Lateral thinkers.

Our website, dyslexic.com features a wide range of technological solutions that use these strengths to help overcome the difficulties associated with dyslexia. We offer a range of articles to help you find out more about the software and hardware tools that are available from introductory overviews to in-depth product reviews and comparisons.

Defining Dyslexia

In 2009 Sir Jim Rose’s Report on ‘Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ gave the following description of dyslexia.

The description of dyslexia adopted in the report is as follows:

‘Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.

It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.

Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.

A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.’

The British Dyslexia Association (B.D.A.) adds to the Rose Reports definition

In addition to these characteristics, the B.D.A. acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process.  Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.

Understanding the definition

The definition states that dyslexia is not due to the individual’s ability to learn and develop these skills. It is to do with the way people process information and how that affects their ability to learn. This processing difficulty can be due to a number of reasons, but it is this which causes problems with acquiring literacy skills. Most dyslexic students have been identified to have one or more of the following deficiencies in the sub-skills that are required to acquire and use adequate literacy skills:

A marked inefficiency in the working or short-term memory system

This means that a dyslexic student may have problems with the amount of information that can be held and processed in the real-time, conscious memory.

Inadequate phonological processing abilities causing problems with connecting the letter patterns with the associated sounds

This is usually due to problems with the speed with which auditory information can be processed and with accessing the memory of audio sounds to relate them to the letter pattern.

Difficulties with automaticity

This can cause problems with getting things in the right order or sequencing and may also show itself as clumsiness caused by the brain sending the wrong signals to parts of the body in the wrong order.

A range of problems connected with visual processing to do with the speed with which visual information can be processed and with accessing the memory of visual patterns

Some people use the term “visual dyslexia” to mean what we call Visual Stress.

So, dyslexia can be summarised as having problems with processing visual or auditory information; withholding that information in working memory and with kinaesthetic awareness, co-ordination and automaticity. These can affect academic progress across a variety of subjects. Their impact can be mitigated by correct teaching, strategy development and the use of information technology.

Because of these difficulties with specifically defining dyslexia, the term Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) is frequently used in the education community. SpLD refers to a difficulty that is specific to a particular area, or that affects a particular process (as distinct from a general learning difficulty, which affects the learning of many different skills). SpLD includes other learning related disabilities such as:

Dysphasia, speech and language delay and/or deficit. Dyspraxia, motor and co-ordination difficulties. Dyscalculia, difficulty with mathematical concepts, calculations and interpreting mathematical symbols. Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD), Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Within the UK the term SpLD is also defined under the term SEND which doesn’t just encompass dyslexia this looks at all Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) within the education system.

Assessment and Screening

Diagnosis of dyslexia can be very difficult due to the complex nature of the condition and the co-occurring impacts of other conditions within dyslexia. We can look at different steps to identify through either screening or assessment to determine the condition. Screening or checklists are used as early identifiers of dyslexia. These cannot be used as a definitive identification but can be used to identify specific traits within the condition to help understand the ability of the individual and give indications of weakness. A full diagnostic assessment can only be carried out by a specialist dyslexia teacher which holds an AMBDA qualification (Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association) and/or an APC (Assessment Practising Certificate) or an Educational Psychologist with HCPC registration who can use a battery of assessments to ascertain and diagnose dyslexia.

Win With Dyslexia Webinar

Introducing

Win With Dyslexia 

Join us for a Free Live Webinar hosted by iansyst

Wednesday 17th May 2017 11:00 – 12:00

  • A New e-learning Platform
  • Video based training and skills development specifically designed for those with Dyslexia
  • Full suite of complimentary resources

Demonstration and Q&A with Ms. Nicola James, Chartered Occ. Psych. and CEO of Lexxic Ltd.

Reserve your FREE Space Now!

#WinWithDyslexia E-Learning Courses Launch

Elearning Courses for Dyslexics

Elearning Courses for Dyslexics

We’re pleased to announce a new suite of e-learning courses, designed for dyslexics and available on dyslexic.com.

The new courses focus on teaching strategies for dyslexics and on developing skillsets with the aim of helping users to achieve goals in work, education and at home. Developed by Lexxic experts, these courses offer a training resource with a new level of support and expanded topics.

The courses follow a new approach, introducing the stories of dyslexic people in everyday situations as they take you on a journey of skillset development.

Read more about our e-learning courses here: www.dyslexic.com/product-category/training/

Win with Dyslexia Competition #WinWithDyslexia

In celebration of the launch of these fantastic e-learning courses, we’re running a #WinWithDyslexia competition with some amazing prizes up for grabs!

The winner with the best story will receive a swanky iPad as well as access to the new e-learning courses. We will also be choosing 3 too-close-to-call runners-up stories and they’ll also get access to the iLexxic courses.

We’re asking dyslexics to share with us their inspirational stories of overcoming challenges. Nicola James, Founder of Lexxic, shared her personal story with us as an example:

“My name is Nicola James. My story and the story of Lexxic begins a few years ago with me struggling to deal with the challenges of my own dyslexia. My dyslexia was picked up quite late. I was already at college and I was questioning very much my abilities, doubting myself and feeling uncertain about the future.

My diagnosis was a turning point. It meant I could understand better the difficulties I’d been experiencing and it meant I could get the support I really needed. I didn’t realise at the time but it set my life on a different course. The support I received was so helpful to me in my work and studies. I decided to dedicate my career to helping other people like myself so that they could also overcome their difficulties and have successful careers and more fulfilling lives.

I gained my qualifications in psychology and I set up my own company for this purpose. We began by doing assessments and offering support for people with conditions like dyslexia. And now, a few years on we’re growing and thriving and we’re launching iLexxic, an exciting new online training resource.”

If you’ve got a motivational story that you’d like to share with others, let us know in the form on our competition page. We’re not looking for an essay, simply 200 words outlining your story. We recommend thinking about your journey and letting us know:

• The challenges
• How you faced difficulties or doubts
• Your successes and new possibilities

Enter online here: 

www.dyslexic.com/competition

Accessible editions of ‘Cursed Child’ published for dyslexic and blind readers

Harry Potter Dyslexia Edition

We’re really excited to let you know that the RNIB have added ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’ to the RNIB Library in both Braille and Giant Print. It’s a great milestone for people with sight loss as it will allow them to read the latest Harry Potter story at that same time as everyone else. RNIB have also announced that they will be releasing a Talking Book version very soon. You can find out more about the accessible editions of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’ by following this link to the RNIB website.

Accessible edition of Cursed Child for dyslexia and sight loss

Another publisher has also announced that they will be publishing a dyslexia-friendly edition of the book in September. This will be published using specialist fonts and paper based on research from the British Dyslexia Association and University of South Wales.

To find out more about ordering your accessible copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two’, please follow this link to read the full story on The Bookseller.

Ghotit Version 5 Software to Support Dyslexia

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5

This month, we have launched Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 5 on dyslexic.com – a brand new version of the reading and writing software which supports individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other learning disabilities. If you would like to find out more about the software and how it could help you, please comment on our blog below!

 

What is Ghotit Real Writer and Reader?

Ghotit LogoGhotit Real Writer and Reader is assistive technology software that helps people overcome many of the common issues that are faced whilst writing text. It includes patented technology which provides the most appropriate corrections for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes by looking at the intended meaning of the piece of text.

 

What new features does version 5 bring?

The brand new version of Ghotit Real Writer and Reader brings a wealth of new features to help those with dyslexia to read and write:

  • Quick-spell word prediction with instant correction
  • Context-sensitive and phonetic spell checker to correct words such as ‘notest’ to ‘noticed’
  • Advanced grammar and punctuation corrector
  • Effective proof-reader
  • Speech feedback
  • Integrated English dictionary which supports US, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African English
  • Reading assistance with dual highlighting
  • Screenshot reader to read aloud any text on the screen to read text from images, locked PDF files and inaccessible documents
  • Word banks for word prediction based on different topics
  • Integration with all text editing applications
  • Standalone “Dyslexia Text Editor”

 

How does the software support dyslexic people?

The software is a great tool for those with dyslexia as it tackles many of the common problems that they may face whilst writing. This includes difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, proofing and accessing documents in different formats.

 

You can purchase the new software online by following this link to Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5 on dyslexic.com.

Dyslexia, Moving Letters, and a Local Chip Shop!

Image of a local chip shop demonstrating dyslexia and moving letters

Thank you to Martin who sent this photo in to dyslexic.com of his local ‘chippy’ – he begged the question as to whether this is a dyslexics worst nightmare or a dream come true. Would a simple play on words like changing ‘Fish and Chips’ to ‘Chish and Fips’ help someone with dyslexia tackle the problems of moving letters?

Image of a local chip shop demonstrating dyslexia and moving letters

Symptoms of Dyslexia

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people of all ages, races, backgrounds and abilities are dyslexic. Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which tends to affect reading and writing, spelling, expressing ideas, organisation, time management and more. You can find out more about dyslexia in a previous blog post on dyslexic.com as part of Dyslexia Awareness Week: What is Dyslexia and where can I find support?

 

Moving Letters

As part of the reading difficulties associated with dyslexia, many people may experience visual stress. This can include seeing letters which move or look like they are back to front, causing issues with letters such as ‘d’, ‘p’ or ‘q. In some cases, visual stress can cause significant problems with reading.

Earlier this year, Victor Widell developed an online simulation using code to demonstrate what a dyslexic reader may experience. Take a look by following this link to see what it may be like to read with dyslexia. It’s important to note that not every person with dyslexia will experience this difficulty and some people may not find that letters move at all when they read.

 

What Assistive Technology Can Help With Moving Letters?

Colour plays a major part when looking to reduce the effects of visual stress. Using coloured paper such as Irlen Pukka Pads or applying Irlen Coloured Overlays over printed text often help dyslexics with visual stress. The choice of text colour used on a white background can also affect visual stress. On Dyslexic.com, we have advanced accessibility options which allow you to change both the text and background colour on our website to one that helps you with reading. (To access this, please follow the ‘Accessibility’ link at the top of the page)

 

Do you think the name of this chip shop would help you read the shop sign? Or would it make it more difficult. It’s all down to your individual preferences so there is no right or wrong answer – please comment below to let us know what you think.