In the headlines
4 September 2017
Jamie Oliver has spoken about how he views his dyslexia as having played a strong role in his success. He feels it gives him a unique perspective on projects. He would like people’s reaction to a diagnosis of dyslexia in their child to be more positive.
15 September 2017
Josh Penn has created an animation using kinetic typography that communicates what it is like to have dyslexia. Being dyslexic himself he decided to create something to help others understand the condition as part of the final year of his degree in Graphic Design at the University of Creative Arts in Canterbury. The typography in the animation moves, spins and flickers. The work is receiving a lot of positive feedback from dyslexia charities, teachers and parents. See for yourself at the link listed.
19 September 2017
Gemma Corby, a SENCo at Hobart High School in Norfolk shares her advice for helping dyslexic children in the classroom. She details tips on choice of font to use for presentations and handouts, the use of colour backgrounds on PowerPoint presentations, layout tips like using bullet points and numbering information points and the benefit of using visuals too.
20 September 2017
12 year old Ryan Hamilton Black is featured in a new book called “Dyslexia is My Superpower (Most of the Time)” by Margaret Rooke. Ryan feels that being dyslexic has made him more creative and made him be an extra good listener. Margaret Rooke interviewed 100 children with dyslexia from all over the world to record how they felt the condition affected them in their lives. She wrote a blog for us back in October 2015 when she published her book “Creative, Successful, Dyslexic”.
20 September 2017
The organisation WebAIM has developed a visual simulation of dyslexia to help people understand the issues for dyslexic people. The letters on the screen are reversed, inverted, transposed and the spelling is inconsistent. WebAIM is a non-profit organisation based at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. They help organisations to make their content accessible to people with disabilities. You can experience the simulation by clicking on the following link.
21 September 2017
Speech recognition solutions like Dragon from Nuance Communications use the human voice as the main interface between the user and the computer thus removing the barrier of the keyboard. These systems have assistive qualities for dyslexics as they are easy to use and accurate. They also offer the ability to read text aloud which makes it easier to identify and correct errors.
In the headlines
1 August 2017
MS Word now has a Read Aloud feature using text-to-speech synthesis which is being reviewed as especially helpful for dyslexic readers. The software allows the user to change the speed of the voice. The new feature is available on the Insider version of Office 365.
2 August 2017
Researchers D. Brkic, J. B. Talcott, A. Hillebrand, S. Paracchini and C. Wilton are investigating one of the dyslexia candidate genes, specifically PCSK6 which may provide a molecular link between brain asymmetry, handedness and reading impairment. Their interim report on their findings so far is available at the following link.
3 August 2017
Rita Treacy who was diagnosed with dyslexia at 18 whilst training to be a Speech and Language Therapist has developed a software package called WordsWorth Learning developed from learning techniques that she used herself to help her studies at college. The result is a software package that is multi-sensory and allows each user to learn in a way that suits them best. It is for children from age 6 to adulthood and it can accelerate the acquisition of reading and spelling skills in all children, not just those with a specific learning difficulty.
22 August 2017
The charity Salvesen Mindroom Centre has developed a guide for student teachers throughout Scotland to help them support pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN) including dyslexia in the classroom. The guide called “It Takes All Kinds of Minds” will be issued by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) in response to the widely held view that trainee teachers are not taught enough about how to help pupils with ASN.
In the headlines
5 July 2017
The team at St John’s College, University of Oxford have held a thank you lunch for contributors to the UK Dyslexia Archive. The project was launched in November last year and seeks to trace the history of the learning difficulty. The researchers have begun to interview key figures in dyslexia research and to build and maintain an archive of dyslexia research papers. They intend to investigate the science of reading, the politics of dyslexia and people’s everyday experience of dyslexia. The project has its own website https://dyslexiahistory.web.ox.ac.uk/home
17 July 2017
Adam Blumsum, 12 years old, has raised £1,200 to provide a bursary for another dyslexic child to get specialist educational help at Flexi-School Dyslexia. He himself attended the school for two years on a part-time basis to receive the school’s multi-sensory teaching in small groups to help him with his dyslexia. Narinda Algar founded the school to help her daughter, Lucia. It currently has 40 pupils and 5 staff.
17 July 2017
The teachers behind the plans for a new school in Kent which will support pupils with dyslexia, which featured in our first Dyslexia News Digest in January this year, are running two taster sessions on 2 and 29 August for pupils and parents to sample the teaching style. They plan to soon lodge their formal application for the school with the Department of Education. If successful the school should open in September 2019.
They have developed a website which explains their ethos and mission and records how the proposal is developing https://www.davincischool.org.uk
28 July 2017
Chicago’s Heritage Outpost Coffee Shop was transformed into an immersive educational experience called the Dyslexia Café. The menus and signage all featured letters that were compressed, jumping off the page, duplicated, backward, or mixed up to make a different word. Customers felt that the experience helped them to really understand the difficulties dyslexics deal with every day. Everyone Reading Illinois wanted to raise dyslexia awareness with this clever concept.
In the headlines
10 June 2017
Illustrator Rebecca Morton has created a children’s book with writer Dean Wilkinson using Christian Boer’s Dyslexie font. The Dyslexie font uses different spacing, boldness and sizes of letters, amongst other things to improve legibility for dyslexic readers.
Behind this headline – Christian Boer developed his Dyslexie font as part of his final thesis project in 2008. He devised a font that dealt with the issues of the dyslexic brain making the 3D movements of switching, rotating and mirroring the letters. Firstly 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 for home use at www.dyslexiefont.com
15 June 2017
The public services union Unison has developed a course to help members gain a better understanding of what colleagues with dyslexia can and cannot do and show how to help to support them in the workplace.
30 June 2017
Penny Murphy has drawn attention to wrongly receiving a parking ticket fine because she typed in her car registration incorrectly because of her dyslexia. She contacted the firm to expose what she feels is a breach of the Equalities Act as they failed to make reasonable adjustments for her having dyslexia.
In the headlines
1 May 2017
Richard Branson wants to change the perception of dyslexia in the world. He feels that the education system fails dyslexic children and leaves them marked as failures when in fact they have many useful life skills that traditional exams do not pick up on. He feels that it was his dyslexia that meant he could think laterally and creatively which helped him to develop his businesses so successfully.
2 May 2017
Richard Branson is supporting the launch of a new charity called Made By Dyslexia. The organisation aims to challenge the stigma around dyslexia and to demonstrate that it is merely a different way of thinking and should not be seen as a disadvantage in life.
3 May 207
The ad agency Y and R came up with a very inventive way of building interest in the launch of Made By Dyslexia by opening a dyslexic sperm bank on the high street. In a provocative move the shop was open for business and people who entered were filmed in discussion with the shop assistant about what they understood about dyslexia and it showed how often their views were incorrect. The overall point of the ad was to say that people think dyslexia is a disadvantage but it need not be.
13 May 2017
Teacher Debbie Abraham, who featured in our April News Digest, has written an article suggesting that SATs tests are harming dyslexic primary school pupils. The tests do not capture their talents and highlight their difficulties with memory and rote learning leaving them anxious and distressed and labelled as failures before they even get to secondary school. She states that only 14% of children with SEN attained the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in 2016. She feels the process is unfair because it does not capture their creative talents in writing and other areas.
15 May 2017
Nigel Lockett has written about being a Professor with dyslexia in The Times Higher Education. He had previously kept his dyslexia a secret throughout his long career as it is seen by most as a disability. He feels it should be redefined as a learning difference as it allows the dyslexic person to deal well with complexity and have good big picture thinking skills as they have a heightened ability to see patterns, objects and shapes.
He has begun a blog to document and discuss his experiences in the hope that it will break down the stigma and misunderstandings around dyslexia. You can read it here at www.nigellockett.com
In the headlines
28 March 2017
Dyslexia Scotland has announced that the free Open University module on dyslexia and inclusive practice is now available online. The further two modules will be available from June. The course is available at http://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/
7 April 2017
A specialist dyslexia tutor in Essex, Debbie Abraham, has started her own online courses aimed at parents of dyslexic children because of the gap in school funding for students who have difficulty with reading and writing but do not require specialist one-to-one teaching. She aims to help the parents begin to understand the complex issues involved. Her website is www.dyslexiadeb.co.uk
14 April 2017
Richard Branson has announced that he is going to launch Made By Dyslexia on May 2nd. He will be working with Kate Griggs of Xtraordinary People who is also a dyslexia advocate. The organisation intends to change attitudes towards dyslexia by showing that dyslexia should be seen as a different way of thinking and not as a disadvantage. Branson was provoked partly by the fact that many sperm banks refused sperm from dyslexics on the grounds that dyslexia was a ‘neurological disease’.
21 April 2017
The charity Dyslexia Action has gone into administration on April 13 after being in operation for over forty years. In the year 2016 it spent £8,127,000 with an income of only £6,432,000 which means an overspend of £1.7 million. The Training Centre, Dyslexia Guild and Units of Sound are still operating and it is hoped they will be sold. A Facebook page has been set up under the name Dyslexia Action Associates to continue to provide support where possible after the shock closure.
In the headlines
8 March 2017
Holly Willoughby has spoken about her concerns that her three children may be dyslexic like her. She uses coloured scripts and advance checks on the autocue for her role as presenter on ITV’s “This Morning”. She feels that schools are better at spotting the signs of dyslexia now and so her children would be picked up sooner. She was diagnosed at 15. She also says that teaching has become more visual since she was at school.
9 March 2017
Dyslexia Scotland has been given double funding of £200,000 for 2017/18 by the Scottish Government. They have developed three online training modules called Introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice which will be available on Addressing Dyslexia, Open University and Dyslexia Scotland’s websites and through Education Scotland’s digital sites.
18 March 2017
SNP Conference calls for more support for adults in obtaining dyslexia assessment by being able to access assessments in the workplace. The cost for an evaluation can range from £300-£500 when done privately.
23 March 2017
SEND learners are airbrushed from education policy says Chris Rossiter, Director of Driver Youth Trust in his report “Through the Looking Glass: Is universal provision what it seems?” Having reviewed 21 influential reports on achieving higher levels of literacy he feels the agencies involved ignore the 1.2 million children with SEND.
In the headlines
Iansyst strategic partnership launch
We are delighted to announce that CPD Bytes has joined forces with Iansyst as a supplier of our online courses. They will be available through their website www.dyslexic.com
31 January 2017
Psychologist and Director of the Driver Youth Trust, Christopher Rossiter has written a piece for the TES trying to put to rest once and for all the old argument that dyslexia does not exist.
4 February 2017
Ela Lourenco’s daughter, Larissa has a form of dyslexia called auditory processing disorder. Together mother and daughter have developed strategies to help promote a love of reading despite Larissa’s difficulties and they share them in this article.
13 February 2017
In a research trial sponsored by Microsoft, their product OneNote has been reported to be a useful tool to help children with dyslexia. The British Dyslexia Association ran an 11 week trial in Knowl Hill School, Surrey involving 20 pupils. The children were given Surface tablets running Immersive Reader which is part of Microsoft’s OneNote software. The researchers claim that the majority of the children taking part improved their reading skills during the trial and gained improved self-confidence and self-esteem too. The software reads out the pupil’s typing without a teacher or TA’s help. Hearing rather than reading makes it easier to spot mistakes and correct them.
14 February 2017
Fascinating research undertaken in Spain using an oscillopathic approach to developmental dyslexia: from genes to speech processing has been preprinted on BioRxiv the preprint server for Biology.
In the headlines
28 December 2016
Caitlin Glover, 12, from Chelmsford has designed a virtual reality system to help spot the early signs of dyslexia. She herself was only diagnosed with the condition when she got to secondary school. She drew on her own experience and invented a system that she believes could help primary school children not ‘fall through the gaps’ and feel defeated early on in their education. She developed a working prototype of her invention at an Acorn Accelerator course run by Acorn Aspirations, a social impact company that trains 12-19 year olds to code and develop aps.
See Caitlin’s pitch at Wayra Demo Day 2016 on youtube here
See her website www.sypereducation.com
23 January 2017
Plans for a new combined primary and secondary school in the Sevenoaks, Kent district with a dyslexia specialism have suffered a setback after county chiefs have expressed doubts over the suitability of one of the proposed sites.
They plan to call it the Da Vinci School after the Italian artist and mathematician who is believed to have been dyslexic. Entry would be open to children of all academic backgrounds and ability. It would be non-fee paying because the teachers behind the scheme, Fiona Gruneberg and Abby Lloyd say that schools are struggling to find the money to supplement special educational needs departments and there is less funding for dyslexic children leaving dyslexic children left behind or having to pay privately for dyslexic support.
24 January 2017
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have uncovered new insight into the brain mechanisms that may underlie dyslexia. Their tests demonstrate that an important feature of human memory ability “implicit memory” decays faster among dyslexics making them less able to make reliable predictions for both simple and complex stimuli. One of the report’s authors noted that “The formation of adequate predictions is crucial for becoming an expert in general, and an expert reader in particular. Achieving this depends on matching printed words with predictions based on previous encounters with related words, but such predictions are less accurate in dyslexics.”
Attempts to help people to experience dyslexia themselves
In the ongoing quest to raise awareness of dyslexia a number of people have come up with some ingenious methods of allowing people to ‘experience’ dyslexia themselves. The dyslexic graphic designer, Sam Barclay, has created the book “I wonder what it’s like to be dyslexic” using innovative typography to help people try to understand the impact of dyslexia on people’s ability to read.
He raised £55,000 for the project on Kickstarter back in November 2013. He hopes that the book is also reassuring to fellow dyslexics as it shows that someone else understands what they experience.
He himself is a successful graphic designer who has worked for Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, Wiggle Bikes, Rosie and Twine, Dyspla and Portsmouth University amongst others.
He has his own website showcasing his work and clients at www.sambarclay.co.uk
Another dyslexic designer, Daniel Britton, has used a different strategy by designing a typeface that slows down non-dyslexic readers to the speed of a dyslexic reader to help them understand and experience the frustration and difficulties dyslexics have when reading.
He wants to produce Dyslexia Educational Packs for Primary and Secondary school pupils and has raised the necessary money through the website CrowdFunder.
He himself was only diagnosed at 18 years old. He has his own website at www.danielbritton.info
And Victor Widell, a software developer has created a stir online by developing a website that he says allows people to experience dyslexia. He created it after talking to a friend with dyslexia who described what the process of reading was like to her. See the website for yourself at this link
Reactions to his site are wide and varied with seemingly every media outlet with the vaguest interest in dyslexia and many with no obvious interest picking up on the story. Some say it gives a fair impression of what their experience of dyslexia is like, while others say it does not capture their experience at all. It certainly provided a talking point and provoked interesting discussions around the topic either way which all contributes to raising awareness and understanding.