In the headlines
21 September 2018
Sally and Bennett Shaywitz have been researching dyslexia for decades. They run the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Much of their research has drawn on data from their longitudinal studies on a cohort of children from kindergarten entry to mature adulthood. They have studied the prevalence of dyslexia, the gender composition, long-term outcomes and economic consequences of dyslexia in adults. Sally Shaywitz wrote “Overcoming Dyslexia” in 2003. Bennett Shaywitz is using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to try and discern a ‘neural signature for dyslexia’.
25 September 2018
Matt Boyd, Founder of Exceptional Individuals has launched a 6 week training course for neuro-diverse people to help them improve their chances of gaining employment. As a dyslexic himself he feels the job selection process of replying to job adverts and being interviewed is tougher for people with dyslexia and that their talents can be overlooked. The Exceptional Individuals own website has a Jobs Board called Incluzy and the website provides support and ideas for job search for neuro-diverse individuals.
30 September 2018
BBC 4 broadcast the documentary “Farther and Sun: A Dyslexic Road Trip”, which is a film made by Richard Macer with his 11 year old son, Arthur exploring whether dyslexia is a disability or a gift. Arthur was diagnosed at age 9 and Richard has always suspected he himself is dyslexic but was only tested during the making of the film. The assessor discovers that he has a Specific Learning Difficulty because he has developed good compensatory skills.
The pair visit academics including Maggie Snowling and Julian Elliot and successful dyslexics like Richard Branson and Eddie Izzard to learn more about the debate around dyslexia.
The hour long programme is still available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.
In the headlines
9 August 2018
Freya Ridings, 23, is a singer-songwriter who has expressed her gratitude for being dyslexic in an interview with the BBC. She says that her severe dyslexia is the reason that she began to write her own songs at the age of 9 because she struggled so much with learning anyone else’s that her music teachers gave up on her. She attended the Brit School from age 16. Her single “Lost Without You” has begun to create a stir. Watch her video for the single on youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDPpex1wvOc
Dyslexia: to disclose or not?
August has been a quiet month for dyslexia stories but that just allows us to highlight some of the work done by the West Lothian Dyslexia Network on Dyslexia and Disclosure.
West Lothian Dyslexia Network is made up of a range of partners in housing, employment, learning and community-based services, who work together to enable fair access to services for adults with dyslexia. The network’s members identified that some of the adults they supported were reluctant to disclose their dyslexia, which makes it difficult to put relevant adjustments in place. The network decided to conduct a survey to get a better understanding of people’s motivations relating to disclosure.
Although some respondents had positive experiences to share on disclosure, many had felt discriminated against. Interestingly the survey found that younger people are more likely to disclose with all the respondents who were 25 or under doing so to help with work or learning.
Follow the link on West Lothian Dyslexia Network’s webpage to download the full article originally published by Dyslexia Scotland.
In the headlines
6 July 2018
John Spence writes about overcoming dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Irlen Syndrome. He had a difficult time at school in the 1970s and 1980s due to the conditions being undiagnosed. He thought it was normal to see ‘words swirling in 3D’ on the page but it meant he struggled to learn to read. In order to hide his difficulties, he developed a persona as the class clown and learnt things by heart. He was good at practical biology and left school with an ‘O’ Level in Home Economics. He joined the military and enjoyed it because it was practical and physical. It was during his time in the army that the fact he could not read was uncovered. It led to him returning to education at the age of 34. He took a degree in biological medicine and health sciences at the Open University. An educational psychologist diagnosed him with Irlen Syndrome and he was able to use his Disabled Students’ Allowance to pay for a tutor. He used a laptop with read and write and speak and spell programs and had any reading material printed on green paper. It took him 9 years to complete his degree. He is now an Ambassador for the OU alongside his work in the military.
16 July 2018
The advertising agency Leo Burnett London has won the digital creative competition run by Ocean and Campaign for its ‘A moment of dyslexia’ ad for the British Dyslexia Association. The ad uses facial-detection technology on Ocean’s digital out of home screens which can tell how long someone looks at the screen and the longer they do the more jumbled the words and letters become as a simulation of what happens to dyslexics looking at a page of text.
There is a short youtube film about the ad here –
22 July 2018
Brendan Morrissey, a Tech investor is launching a ‘bespoke social network’ for children and teenagers with dyslexia and ADHD called iDyslexic. He is partnered with the Irish Dyslexia Association and plans to tie-in with dyslexia associations around the world.
Sign up to be kept informed about the launch of the app at the website www.idyslexic.com
In the headlines
14 June 2018
Dr Daryl Brown, Headteacher at Maple Hayes Hall in Lichfield which is a school specialising in teaching dyslexic children, has written in the TES about how the introduction of EHC (Education, Health and Care) plans in 2014 has created problems in SEND provision in schools. His experience has been that local authorities are reluctant to do the necessary assessment tests on struggling children because if found to be in need of extra support the council has a legal duty to follow up with funding for the necessary support up to the age of 25 where needed. EHC plans are more complex than the previous statements of SEN, which had six sections. EHC plans have twelve sections. Dr Brown is aware of the frustrations of parents trying to get their children assessed so they can access the support they need. The process has become lengthy and expensive as the parents are having to fight every step of the way.
24 June 2018
Sally Magnusson’s 26 year old son Rossie Stone who was diagnosed with dyslexia aged 11 has turned his innovative technique for learning into a range of educational comic books. He used to turn his notes for his Highers studies into comic book form with smaller text boxes with images alongside. He found the technique helped him to learn the content. Having done a degree at art school he founded Dekko Comics three years ago. The company produces monthly issues, which feature maths and English in every issue. Two Scottish Local Authorities are already using them in their schools and they receiving a lot of interest and acclaim.
Have a look for yourself on their website – https://dekkocomics.com
27 June 2018
A team of Norwegian researchers claim to have discovered another ‘gene for dyslexia’ and have written up their research in the Journal of Medical Genetics. They investigated 36 members of a Norwegian family to look for patterns in their genes. The family has a number of members with developmental dyslexia who exhibit a different processing pathway in response to phonological tasks and have impaired discrimination of both rapidly presented visual and auditory non-verbal information. The team are adding to the on-going threads of research that document the array of genes that seem to be involved in dyslexia.
In the headlines
3 May 2018
‘The Mirror’ reports that Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers and Helen Boden, CEO of the British Dyslexia Association, along with twenty-four other charities, have sent an open letter to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, stating that children with Special Needs like dyslexia, partial sight, autism or learning difficulties are being the hardest hit by the government’s policy of austerity. The spending cuts in education are meaning that these children are not getting the help and support they so desperately need. The NAHT conference to be held in Liverpool in May is going to demand that the government provides more funding for children with complicated needs.
7 May 2018
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) have called on the Scottish Government to review how local authorities are supporting children and young people with complex and high level needs. There has been a decline in the number of children with additional support needs (ASN) such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD receiving a so-called Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP). Having a CSP entitles the child to additional resources and places statutory duties on local authorities to review and ensure that the support provisions contained within the CSP are being met. Local authorities are more reluctant to provide CSPs due to the on-going cuts in health, education and social work services.
22 May 2018
The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has released its 2018 Style Guide which aims to encourage designers, businesses and teachers to consider dyslexics when making typeface, colour, spacing and imagery choices in their written communications including websites, apps and brands. The BDA has been publishing the guide annually for twenty years. It has been reviewed by researchers at the University of Southampton, who have collated the most recent research on dyslexia and readability. Recommendations include using sans serif typefaces like Arial, Verdana, or Tahoma, making fonts at least 12 pt with headings sized twenty percent larger than the normal text and for the first time looking at the spacing between letters and words which has an impact on readability too.
Download your own copy of the Dyslexia Style Guide 2018 from this link to the British Dyslexia Association website –
In the headlines
19 April 2018
Researchers in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Iceland have published findings in the journal “Cognition” which seem to show that there is a connection between dyslexia and visual processing. They claim that the dyslexic subjects in their experiment had ‘abnormal face processing’ and exhibited ‘specific deficits in high-level visual processing’ which they say explains their dyslexia.
26 April 2018
Theo Paphitis has told Business Leader that his dyslexia has helped him in his career as a successful entrepreneur. He claims that it led to him creating a whole new world for himself in finding alternative solutions from the norm for processing and analysing information. Skills that he employs in running his businesses of Ryman, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue.
26 April 2018
Richard Branson has given an interview to CNN Money about his life and career from being thought to be the ‘dumbest person at school’ due to his undiagnosed dyslexia to making his mark in a number of different business sectors including the record industry, mobile phones, trains, cruise ships and planes. He values taking risks in business and learning from any failures along the way.
In the headlines
11 March 2018
Andre Agassi’s Early Childhood Neuroscience Foundation has teamed up with Square Panda to fund a dyslexia-assessment game called Readvolution , which they hope to make available for universal screening for dyslexia in the U.S.A.
Original source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/11/andre-agassi-square-panda-readvolution-dyslexia/
24 March 2018
Writing in “The Guardian”, the Secret Teacher sees huge delays in assessments being undertaken on struggling children and feels that there is not enough funding for schools to have enough staff to help struggling children in the classroom. Read the full article at the following link –
27 March 2018
The British Dyslexia Association has produced an animation called See Dyslexia Differently, which challenges preconceptions about dyslexia. The animation has been sent to primary schools to raise awareness and spark debate and discussions. The BDA has also worked with Twinkl, a teaching resource website to produce further resources on dyslexia for schools. Follow this link to see the animation on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbWspi2_A1Q
Follow this link to see the BDA’s further teaching resources
Original souce: https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2018/03/27/charity-turns-animation-spread-message/
31 March 2018
Angie Fox has written a lively article about understanding her daughter’s diagnosis of dyslexia. They live in Australia where dyslexia is not reliably recognised or catered for despite legislation since 1992. She can tell her daughter has many positive traits like the ability for Big Picture Thinking, problem solving skills, innovation and creativity. Her daughter was diagnosed aged 7 when she was tested privately at a cost of $1,200. She has received hundreds of hours of private, one-on-one intervention at $95 an hour. Angie knows that her family has been lucky to have the resources to support their daughter in this way. She feels the Australian education system is unfair to dyslexic children.
Original source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/31/existing-between-the-lines-getting-to-know-my-daughters-dyslexia
In the headlines
12 February 2018
Richard Branson writes about how the founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, had dyslexia, which led to two of the innovative features of the way the company operates. The features are the use of memorable Swedish names and places to identify products rather than individual number codes and the use of pictures with no words on the assembly instructions. Dyslexia made IKEA!
15 February 2018
HR magazine Re:locate Magazine reports that only 10% of HR professionals in the UK say that neurodiversity is included in people management practices despite the statistic that 10% of the UK population is neurodivergent. This inevitably means that neurodivergent individuals are unable to reach their full potential in the workplace and that the workplaces are missing out on using the unique strengths of their neurodivergent staff.
Uptimize and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) have produced a guide called Neurodiversity at Work, which covers many issues including making your people management approach neurodiversity smart and how to build an inclusive, neurodiverse workplace. Read more at the link given.
In the headlines
21 January 2018
Jon Severs writes an exploration of the complex views and opinions around the use of the Comic Sans font in schools in The Times Educational Supplement. The much-derided font is widely used in educational settings for worksheets and displays with many teachers feeling that it is helpful for dyslexic pupils and for teaching handwriting but Severs claims that the research does not back up these supposed benefits. His overall conclusion is that it is the spacing of letters on the page rather than the letter shape that is the key to readability.
22 January 2018
Meredith Ringel Morris, Adam Fourney, Abdullah Ali and Laura Vonessen, researchers at Microsoft Research, University of Washington have investigated the needs of web searchers with dyslexia. Web search is an important modern literacy skill and dyslexia creates an accessibility issue for the process. The challenges faced are query formulation, search result triage and information extraction. The researchers found that people with dyslexia valued being able to use voice input to circumvent spelling challenges. They feel that search engines and websites need to change their user interfaces to be more accessible and user friendly.
29 January 2018
Kate Griggs, Founder of the charity Made by Dyslexia has given a TEDx Talk in Brighton expanding on her view that dyslexia is an advantage, not a disadvantage. According to yougov research commissioned by Made by Dyslexia, only 3% of people polled saw dyslexia as an advantage. Kate outlines her objection to mainstream education, which she feels takes away children’s natural creativity.
In the headlines
Behind the headlines
We report on two conflicting news stories published on the same day about Christian Boer’s Dyslexie font developed specifically to help dyslexics. We have covered this topic before back in June 2017 when reporting on the publication of “Muriel’s Murals” by Dean Wilkinson and Rebecca Morton which used the font.
4 December 2017
The Good News Network reports that Dyslexie font is designed specifically for dyslexia and that it really works. Boer devised a font that dealt with the issues of the dyslexic brain making the 3D movements of switching, rotating and mirroring the letters. He made the underside of the letters bolder so that they do not flip, he made the ‘twin’ letters like b and d no longer match up by slanting them differently, he made ascenders and descenders longer, he made bigger gaps in c, s and e, he put wider spacing between letters in words and he made capitals and punctuation bigger. His font is widely used and is available to download for free home use at www.dyslexiefont.com
4 December 2017
Meanwhile researchers at the Behavioural Science Institute and Department of Special Education at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands have reported on their findings on studies of the effects of the Dyslexie font in the Annals of Dyslexia pp 1-18. They claim to have discovered that Dyslexie font does NOT benefit reading in children with or without dyslexia. Separate studies claim that there is no difference between reading speed whether Dyslexie font or Arial font is used. Marinus et al (2016) claim to have discovered that if Arial font is matched with Dyslexie font for within-word and between-word spacing, reading speed is the same for both fonts. They conclude that if indeed Dyslexie font aids reading it is not because of the design of the shape of the letters but because of the increase in word spacing it uses.
11 December 2017
Researchers from the Department of Psychology at University of Jyvaskyla, Finland and Jyvaskyla Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research have discovered a longitudinal interaction between brain and cognitive measures on hearing speech taken when the babies are just 6 months old to their reading development when they reach the age of 14. The children in the long-term study had one or both parents with dyslexia so had an inherited risk. This discovery could save years of waiting to see if the child has dyslexia and allow much earlier intervention and support.
14 December 2017
Judith Bliss, Founder and CEO of MindPlay, asks ‘Are you Dyslexia aware?’ She has produced a 10 question quiz for eschoolnews.com covering common myths and misunderstandings surrounding Dyslexia. Find the quiz at this link –