Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – February 2018

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!

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/how-dyslexia-helped-create-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.

https://www.relocatemagazine.com/news/hr-are-organisations-considering-neurodiversity-at-work-cipd

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – January 2018

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.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/long-read-whats-so-bad-about-comic-sans-anyway

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.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/understanding-needs-searchers-dyslexia/

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.

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/world-sees-dyslexia-disadvantage-its-not

 

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – December 2017

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

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/font-designed-specifically-dyslexia-really-works/

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.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11881-017-0154-6

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.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-infant-brain-responses-secondary-school.html

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 –

https://www.eschoolnews.com/2017/12/14/dyslexia-awareness-quiz/

 

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – November 2017

In the headlines

Behind one of last month’s headlines

Our final item last month dated 18 October reported on the research by French scientists Guy Ropars and Albert le Floch who claim to have found evidence that dyslexia is caused by physiological differences in dyslexic people’s eyes. Their paper garnered extensive coverage in the media, which is why it appeared in our round up. Since then though rebuttals of the theory have emerged and we report on them here.

27 October 2017

Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive and neuro-scientist based at the University of Wisconsin writes a powerful rebuttal of the French scientists Guy Ropars and Albert le Floch’s study. He feels the paper is a ‘terrible article’ and will have a ‘harmful impact’. He states that there is no single cause of dyslexia and that dyslexia is a spectrum condition. Read his forthright blog below.

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=35144

2 November 2017

A further detailed report on Mark Seidenberg’s rebuttal of Ropars and le Floch’s study appeared in Tucson News Now adding in criticisms of the research made by Jack Fletcher of the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston and Joe Elliot, researcher at the University of Durham who stated that in his investigations of research on dyslexia any explanation based on vision ‘always turns to dust’.

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/36749672/experts-lambaste-french-dyslexia-study-claiming-to-have-found-cause-cure

6-11 November 2017

Scotland held its Dyslexia Awareness Week (as it always does a month after England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on 6-11 November. The theme this year was Positive about Dyslexia. Click on the link below to read Dyslexia Scotland’s round-up report on all the events that took place including the launch on 9 November of their new website for young people with dyslexia which is called Dyslexia Unwrapped and can be accessed directly by clicking on the second link listed below.

https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/dyslexia-awareness-week

https://unwrapped.dyslexiascotland.org.uk

17 November 2017

Nancy Gedge, consultant teacher for Driver Youth Trust wrote an article for the TES about the lack of but undeniable usefulness of specialist teachers who have undertaken qualifications at Level 7 in dyslexia and literacy difficulties. The awards are governed by the various dyslexia charities and mean that the teachers holding them are able to assess and diagnose dyslexia and suggest interventions or teaching styles that will benefit the student. She adds that the adjustments can be something as simple as changing the font you use in class, or adding bullet points or numbers to lines to help dyslexic students find their place in the text.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/specialist-teachers-will-help-they-cant-weave-magic

22 November 2017

Professor Margaret Snowling, from St John’s College, Oxford has taken part in a half hour long podcast with the TES. She discusses the importance of early intervention for dyslexic children and how dyslexia is a continuum from mild to severe. Listen to the whole discussion at the link below.

http://tesnews.podbean.com/e/what-teachers-need-to-know-about-dyslexia-and-how-to-support-dyslexic-students-professor-margaret-snowling-talks-to-tes-podagogy/

 

 

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – October 2017

In the headlines

2 October 2017

Christopher Rossiter, Director of the Driver Youth Trust shares his thoughts on the state of dyslexia support in schools. He knows that many dyslexic children do get the necessary support in school that they are entitled to but he is also very aware of lack of funding in many local authorities where SEND provision is slipping away. He stresses the continued importance of Dyslexia Awareness Week in raising the issues for schools and teachers.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/dyslexia-awareness-week-a-reminder-how-far-we-have-go-every-childs

3 October 2017

The website whatusersdo.com has compiled a useful set of dos and don’ts for making websites more accessible for dyslexic readers. They state that website owners should make reasonable adjustments to their websites to make them more accessible and user-friendly. Recommendations include using sans serif fonts e.g. Arial, using icons on the page as visual signposts and using lists of information rather than dense sections of text.

http://whatusersdo.com/blog/five-ways-make-usable-websites-people-dyslexia/?utm_campaign=Submission&utm_medium=Community&utm_source=GrowthHackers.com

4 October 2017

Aisling McGuire, Head of Learning Support in Belhaven School, Dunbar makes the case for using the teaching style adopted to teach dyslexic learners for everyone in the class.   She discusses 5 strategies that have application for all learners including breaking tasks down to facilitate comprehension and memory processes, repetition and teaching organisational skills in the classroom.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/why-we-should-teach-all-pupils-if-they-have-dyslexia

5 October 2017

Sarah Driver, Founder of the Driver Youth Trust has written an article for The TES for Dyslexia Awareness Week about how important it is for school leaders to take dyslexia seriously. She makes 5 recommendations including deciding to make special educational needs and disability (SEND) a priority within schools and to follow through on this by ring-fencing SEND funding. She also stresses the importance of workforce development by buying in specialists to train teachers and Sencos.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/five-ways-school-leaders-can-demonstrate-they-take-dyslexia

 

18 October 2017

French scientists Guy Ropars and Albert le Floch based at the University of Rennes have published their research theory that dyslexia is caused by physiological differences in dyslexic people’s eyes. They have discovered that the tiny light-receptor cells in the eyes of a dyslexic person are arranged in matching patterns in both eyes whereas in a non-dyslexic person the cells are arranged asymmetrically allowing the image from one eye to be dominant. In dyslexic people neither eye is dominant which leads them to make ‘mirror errors’ when reading. The researchers are testing an intervention technique using an LED light to erase the mirror image.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/18/dyslexia-scientists-claim-cause-of-condition-may-lie-in-the-eyes

 

 

 

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – September 2017

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.

http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-09-04/jamie-oliver-children-with-dyslexia-are-lucky/

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.

https://www.dezeen.com/2017/09/15/josh-penn-awareness-dyslexia-kinetic-typography-animation-graduates/

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.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/10-easy-steps-make-your-classroom-dyslexia-friendly

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”.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/boy-12-says-dyslexia-gives-him-his-own-superpowers-459309.html

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.

https://webaim.org/simulations/dyslexia

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.

http://www.itproportal.com/features/how-speech-recognition-gives-people-with-dyslexia-new-terms-for-opportunity/

 

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – August 2017

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.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/1/16074506/microsoft-word-read-aloud-feature

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.

https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/posters/meg-resting-state-functional-connectivity-and-network-topology-in-dyslexia-related-genotype-290856

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.

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/wordsworth-learning-helping-kids-with-and-without-dyslexia-1.3170076

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.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15486708.New_guide_for_student_teachers_on_pupils_with_learning_difficulties/

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – July 2017

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

https://www.sjc.ox.ac.uk/discover/news/celebrating-history-dyslexia/

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.

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/malling/news/12-year-olds-bursary-for-dyslexic-children-128967/

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.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-adagency-interns-dyslexia-0728-story.html

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – June 2017

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

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/shepperton-author-creates-childrens-book-13166200

 

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.

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2017/06/dyslexia/

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.

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/dyslexic-womans-anger-parking-ticket-dundee-lidl/

 

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – May 2017

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.

http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/01/dyslexia-should-be-seen-as-a-sign-of-intelligence-says-richard-branson-6608071/

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.

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/supporting-launch-made-dyslexia

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.

http://www.moreaboutadvertising.com/2017/05/yr-challenges-received-wisdom-with-dyslexic-sperm-bank/

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.
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/sats-exams-dyslexia-pupils-primary-school-mental-health-awareness-week-a7734311.html

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

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/disability-campus-i-have-decided-go-public-dyslexic-professor