Supporting people with dyslexia
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty affecting information processing and the acquisition of literacy skills. Although there is a common perception that dyslexia is a reading and spelling difficulty, it is more complex than that. Many people with dyslexia will have problems with organisation, memory and processing information. Approximately 5% of the students at the University of Kent have been assessed as having dyslexia.
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A person with dyslexia may have difficulties with:
- Expressing their ideas clearly in writing
- Finding the right word
- Spelling – the same word may be spelt in several ways in the same essay
- Punctuation – may be erratic or missing completely
- Reading – they are often slow readers, may have difficulties remembering what they have read and may have to re-read to establish meaning
- Remembering what they have read
- Remembering spoken instructions
- Taking notes from lectures and from books/journals
- Syntax and grammar
- Writing – may be slow and/or difficult to read
- Confusion with left and right
If you are a current student and you feel that you may have dyslexia, we recommend that you register with Student Support and Wellbeing and ask for a screening for specific learning difficulties. Following a computer screening assessment, there will be a one hour appointment with a Specific Learning Difficulties Adviser to discuss your difficulties. Depending on the results of this discussion, we may recommend a referral to a Specialist Teacher Assessor or Educational Psychologist for a full diagnostic assessment.
If you are a prospective student, and already have a diagnosis of dyslexia, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing and provide a copy of your diagnostic assessment report. Assessments should be completed after the age of 16 and should be carried out by an HCPC registered Educational Psychologist, or a SASC registered Specialist Teacher Assessor. Please contact Student Support and Wellbeing for any queries about arranging an assessment.
- Embed inclusive teaching practices.
- Promote use of assistive technology to all.
- Consider how to deliver content in alternative formats.
- Ensure documents and presentations comply with basic accessibility practice. Using the inbuilt heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2 etc) allow dyslexic learners to rapidly navigate a document.
- Lecture recording may benefit dyslexic learners as they can focus on understanding rather than notetaking and check details afterwards. Having lecture notes available online would also be a good solution.
- Where class discussion count towards assessment, it might be appropriate to allow dyslexic learners to copy the discussion thread so they can proof read their contributions and retrofit improved spelling and grammar.
- Since written assessments present a barrier to many dyslexic learners, consider how you could adapt assessments and assignments to play to the strengths of dyslexic (and other) learners). For example could they produce image, audio or video evidence instead of text?
Designing for users with dyslexia
- use images and diagrams to support text
- align text to the left and keep a consistent layout
- consider producing materials in other formats (for example, audio and video)
- keep content short, clear and simple
- let users change the contrast between background and text
- use large blocks of heavy text
- underline words, use italics or write capitals
- force users to remember things from previous pages - give reminders and prompts
- rely on accurate spelling - use autocorrect or provide suggestions
- put too much information in one place
The above Dos and Dont's contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
All the information you need to contact Student Support and Wellbeing.
The following are useful links to other sources of information on specific learning difficulties: