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H810: Week 7: Activity 15.2: Students with dyslexia

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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.



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