OU blog

Personal Blogs

E801: Action 3.5

Visible to anyone in the world

E801: Action 3.5: Reading, Dyslexia and the Brain

Goswami, U. (2009) 'Reading, Dyslexia and the Brain' in Fletcher-Campbell, F., Soler, J. & Reid, G. Approaching Difficulties in Literacy Development: Assessment, Pedagogy and Programmes. Chichester, Sage.

  • The importance of locating neural sites for reading
    Can provide evidence to prove/disprove theories such as determination as to where reading begins
  • The role of developmental differences
    'High degree of consistency in neural networks recruited by novice and expert readers' (p.13)
    'reading related activity in the brain becomes more left lateralised with development' (p.13)
    [This seems intuitive to me as novice readers start by reading aloud and then move to silent reading with lip movement and then to fully silent reading]
  • How neuro-biological understanding can inform intervention
    Single route model of reading development
    Reading did not become left-lateralised (p.15)
    Hypoactivation of areas on the left with atypical continued use of areas on the right (p.18)
    Atypical auditory processing (p.19)
  • The role of brain imaging as a research methodology that can enhance our understanding of developmental dyslexia
    Wide range of functional problems so difficult to equate participants (p.14)
    Must use same techniques (p.14)
    Problems with equating groups - e.g. is difference due to non-dyslexics having greater expertise? (p.15)

Reid, G. (2009) Dyslexia: a Practitioners Handbook. Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell. Chapter 2- Causal modelling framework

Frith, U. (2002) 'Resolving the paradoxes of dyslexia' in Reid, G. & Wearmouth, J. (eds.) Dyslexia and Literacy, Theory and Practice. Chichester, John Wiley & Sons.

3 levels: behavioural, cognitive, biological (over-lapping)


Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 13 : Activity 25.4

Visible to anyone in the world


Week 13: Activity 25.4: Learning Styles and Dyslexia

  • What approach to dyslexia is used in your context?
    In student support we are encouraged to work with students in a social context. By this I mean that a student's literacy difficulties may be genetic in origin but they exist in a social setting which is the academic field of the university. We help the students form strategies to address the literacy difficulties that they are finding in their current situation.
  • To what extent do you think that current practice in supporting dyslexic students is based on a wide range of research findings?
    This is based on the New Literacy Studies approach which recognises that literacy difficulties are situated in social situations and heavily influenced by them. This socio-cultural approach means that practitioners change their focus from a medical approach that concentrates on a remedy for the individual to one looking at the social setting of the academic environment and how we can make that more suitable for learners with reading difficulties, whatever their origin.
  • To what extent do you think that the approach taken by Amesbury et al. is useful for supporting students with dyslexia?
    I can understand the reasoning behind this approach but it strikes me as isolationist and medical model in nature. I would be concerned that lecturers would think that students with dyslexia could be 'cured' by attending this course and that they need make no efforts to make their curriculum open to all learners.


Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 7: Activity 15.2: Students with dyslexia

Visible to anyone in the world


Smythe, I. (ed.) (2005) Provision and Use of Information Technology with Dyslexic Students in University in Europe, pp. 87-90, EU funded Welsh Dyslexia Project. Available from:
http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/14150/1/The_Book.pdf [accessed 20th October 2010]

Matching Technology to Needs
Andersson and Draffan, 2005, pp. 73-78

Screen Readers

I am not sure that I agree that screen readers may be too fast with long strings of spoken text. The report seems to suggest that the short-term memory problems often associated with dyslexia make remembering and understanding the long strings very difficult. In my experience which is in a higher education context, students often use the screen reader in association with reading the written text and it can greatly reduce the number of times the student has to read the paper  in order to comprehend it and extract the information they require. It does not always help students to have the text highlighted as this can be very distracting.

I do agree that recent developments that have made it possible for the student to customise the software to their own requirements have been extremely beneficial. This does involve training for the student and I have experienced problems on several occasions when the student has been supplied with software using their DSA. The delivery people are expected to train the student and have often never used the program themselves.

Predictive text

8-10 words per minute - useful to increase output
25+ words per minute - useful for vocabulary support
Koester, H.H (2002) Word Prediction - When does it enhance text entry rate? In R. Simpson (Ed.), Proceedings of the RESNA 25th Annual Conference.

Perceptual difficulties / short term memory issues - correct word needs to be towards top of short list
Montgomery, D.J., Karlan, G.R. & Coutinho, M. (2001), The Effectiveness of Word Processor Spell Checker Programs to Produce Target Words for Misspellings Generated by Students With Learning Disabilities, JSET E Journal, 16, 2,

Voice Recognition

Voice recognition has improved tremendously over the last few years but I think that the disadvantages reported here are still applicable. Many people with dyslexia, even at higher education level, are prone to mispronounce words and this causes enough of a problem for them to give up on voice recognition software. Even with comprehensive notes and an essay plan, short term memory impairment can cause problems with remembering enough text to dictate coherently to a computer.


I think the most useful improvement in this area is that of software which allows students to customise their spell-checkers with the complex vocabulary required by an average degree or post-graduate course.

Mind Mapping

I know of several students who find mind mapping an invaluable tool but others who hate it. It is definitely a tool that is down to personal preference. I also find that it can be so heavily advertised as a tool for students with dyslexia that many other students are reluctant to try it.

I don't know whether it is my age but I still prefer mind mapping on paper so I can scrawl to my heart's content. I find the precise process of drawing it out on the screen takes too long for me to be able to jot down ideas at speed and then I lose the merits of the brainstorming process. I have been known to transcribe the whole thing onto Webspriration afterwards in order to clarify my ideas.

A Conceptual Model of the ICT Needs of the Dyslexic Student Smythe et al., 2005, pp. 87-90

Not sure how useful this chart would be as it generalises the requirements of students where a more individual approach is necessary. The language is also controversial as it discusses 'dyslexics' and 'dyslexic students' in general terms.

"The table above highlights the software which would provide most dyslexics with most of their needs." Page 91

I found the information on approaches in other countries interesting but outdated.

The point not considered by either article was the effect of multiple impairments. I have been working closely with a university student who is registered blind and also has dyslexia. These two impairments each impinge on the strategies used to counteract the disabilities for the other. Being blind means that the visual representations used in mindmapping are not possible and being dyslexic means that the feats of memory required to remember routes around the university, keystrokes for computer work etc. are also problematical.



Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 423523