It is Dyslexia Awareness Week and this year’s theme ‘Beyond Words’ highlights the range of difficulties people with dyslexia can face when trying to access education.
Dyslexia affects about 10% of the UK population and the condition can include difficulties with maths, organisational skills, coordination and short term memory as well as reading, writing and spelling.
In our work we aim to explore and promote inclusive practices, resources and advice for learning and teaching in UK. A key part of this work is to promote technology which makes education more accessible to disabled students.
There are a number of free technologies that colleges and universities can use to support learners with dyslexia, here are our top five:
Many dyslexic learners find it easier to process information by listening rather than reading text. Text-to-speech (TTS) technology allows text in electronic formats to be read out loud by synthetic voices or saved as MP3 files for later listening. Free audio tools such as Balabolka and Orato can be used to ‘listen’ to texts.
2. Quality voices
There are free high quality natural sounding voices available in both England and Scotland for use with text-to-speech tools. TechDis Jess and Jack (in England) and Heather and Stuart (in Scotland) are high quality natural sounding voices for use with text-to-speech
3. Textbooks in digital format
There are many advantages of text books in electronic format as they allow student to change the font size, colours and use text-to-speech. Not all textbooks will be available through an online system in which case it’s worth offering dyslexic learners the opportunity to get a digital copy from the publisher directly. The Publisher Lookup website gives contact details for all the major publishers and a sample email template
4. Display enhancement
For some, the ability to easily change screen colours or focus on particular areas of the screen is important when reading text. Free tools include ssOverlay and RapidSet for colour changing while VuBar and T-Bar allow learners to focus on sections of text, making reading the screen easier. All of these are available on the Fx Software site