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Making learning activities more accessible

Traditional learning activities involve reading, recording and notetaking – activities that can be difficult for dyslexic learners to engage in.

Learning activities can be made more accessible to dyslexic learners by:

  • Avoiding unnecessarily complex language in tasks or instructions.
  • Clarifying new vocabulary.
  • Providing glossary summaries for technical terms.
  • Providing clear mileposts and checkpoints for extended activities.
  • Using technology to support planning, organisation, recording and writing skills.
  • Developing activities that are creative and not necessarily writing dependent.
  • Using Interactive Whiteboards and VLEs to ensure notes from teaching sessions can be captured and made available to learners afterwards.

Making learning resources more accessible

A wide range of assistive technologies existMany of the educational resources created by teaching staff are text based. For learners with poor literacy skills it is imperative that the meaning of the information is not lost in the medium.

Where staff are trained to use heading styles in documents and make the resources available online the learners can use inbuilt features such as document map view or outline view. These views allow the learner to see the entire document navigation ordered by heading level. This provides a very effective way for learners to find their way to the key points in a document.

A wide range of free technologies are available to support more engaging learning resources:

  • Mind mapping may provide an effective way to support some deaf/heard of hearing learners who cope better with visual materials.
  • The effective use of images and video clips can supplement or even replace textual information. Software such as Camstudio, Wink, PhotoStory and MovieMaker can be used to create very visual learning materials.

Text dense resources with high language levels may need simplifying, summarising or signposting to alternative resources. Where this process involves more advanced level resources it is essential the task of summarising is completed jointly by teaching and support staff.

Many text dense resources can be converted to MP3 using either commercial software, free tools such as DSpeech or free web services such as Read the Words or Robobraille.

Accessible teaching strategies – general principles

Provide the following in advance wherever possible and ideally on the learning platform so they don’t get mislaid:

  • Course syllabus and book lists
  • Timetable information
  • Glossary of new technical terms and vocabulary
  • Session or lesson plans
  • Timings for assignment deadlines
  • Clearly expressed aims and learning outcomes for each session
  • Copies of handouts, OHPs and lecture notes
  • Where possible, audio summary of notes.

As part of good teaching practice:

  • Alert support staff well in advance about any extra support needed
  • Write topics and key headings on the board or OHP
  • Clearly structure your session and be explicit about changes of topic
  • Use a range of resources and explanations to enable students with different learning styles to grasp the information
  • Develop a range of assessment approaches and assignment activities.

Content creation for dyslexic learners - subsections: