IT support and the Dyslexic Child

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When assessing a child with dyslexia/dyspraxia who has difficulty /is reluctant to write,
for alternative recording methods, I usually suggest  the  use of a handheld voice recorder( VR)
with standard sized tape Dictaphon tapes easily tangle and cannot be used on different machines). 
It is very portable and can be used in conjunction with other aids such as spellmasters  and wordprocessors.
Most schools are happy to comply, especially if the parent provides the machine.
If approached tactfully, many secondary teachers  will use the VR during lessons with

 a lot of oral content, if they are in control of the machine. If there is more than one child

in the class who needs this support, copies of the tape can be made quickly.

 The child/ teacher or a friend can dictate homework requirements into the  machine.
 The child can dictate ideas for an essay or report before typing it up.
 Some pieces of work can be presented as a tape.
 It is invaluable for recording results in practical science and design and tech. lessons.
 Information from books can read onto the tape as notes when planning or doing research.
 For poor readers, taped versions of textbooks can increase independent working in maths and other subjects.

Parent volunteers will often help to produce these.

This can be an effective intervention that is relatively cheap and easy
to introduce, but there are a few potential pitfalls that can be got round:
 1.  Agreement between the parents and school needs to be reached on
where and when the VR is used, *before* it is introduced into the classroom.
2.  Short (30-45 min ) labelled tapes for each subject are more
effective than one long one, where work can get lost / over-written
 3.  Headphones are useful for private listening in public areas.
 4.  Encouraging group use where applicable (recording the planning of  group
 projects etc) fosters peer group support and reduces the likelihood of teasing etc.

In some schools (both secondary and primary) and with some pupils it is
a brilliant support, but if the teachers, peer-group or other contacts are
 luke-warm or even hostile, it is better to develop confidence in its
 utility, by using it at home.

Hope this gives parents some positive suggestions for supporting their
children in less dyslexia-enlightened schools!

To add to previous answers and endorsing Judith's below , I would suggest
any cassette recorder used had a variable sped option that allows rewind and
fast forward at sped where the content is discernible without playing at
normal speed and allows easy editing and review. A tape counter is also
useful to help bookmaking of content.
I would endorse Judith's comments on standard cassettes as this enables
tapes to be played back on any machine at home or school for both pupil and
staff and easy copies.

An additional piece of equipment used extensively in our LEA at all KS is
the Language master which is an alternative and manageable way to record
notes and information with the additional visual element. ( A language
master enables cards to speak information recorded by either teacher or
pupil and as the cards can vary in length or depth visual info can go with
them in tandem e.g. diagrams etc)

One of the key ways I encourage teachers in Worcestershire to support pupils
in recording is to use DART( Directed Activities Related to Text) activities
which lessen the reading and writing load but enable the pupils to interact
with the text.
Activities such as labelling diagrams, completing tables, colour coding
information or key points, flow charts, cloze texts with multiple choice
words, cutting out written statements and sequencing them or matching them
to definitions / pictures and timelines ( not just historical but to track
processes, storylines, events etc),  are but some suggestions.
As a support service we create many such activities for teachers to use with
all their pupils and many publishers produce curricular materials in this
format. ( e.g. Collins Science for KS3)
Photocopying key texts in an enlarged format so that highlight pens can be
used and or icons and pictures can be annotated is another way forward.
As for recording information using ICT predictive lexicons ( e.g. Penfriend
or TEXThelp) and wordbanks such as Wordbar ( Crick ) reduce the writing ,
spelling and typing load and all have full speech support and can be used
with virtually and wordprocessor and work well with Word.
In support of classroom and subject teachers , many are overwhelmed by the
demands that are made on them in terms of targets and standards and
curriculum and despite their best efforts cannot find sufficient time to get
everything right. However many fail to see that what is good practise for
Dyslexic pupils is equally beneficial for all.
I play many games  in my lessons when I get to teach and introduce as many
multisensory strategies and accelerated learning techniques wherever
possible, but it involves risk taking and confidence and when teaching many
classes with challenging pupils it often results in teachers not willing to
do anything different. Some do and succeed brilliantly and then other staff
follow their example. But classes of 25 - 30 pupils with a range of needs
can be a real challenge to any skilled teacher and I often think those of us
who are used to smaller groups or individual tuition forget what the real
world can be like.
Most teachers, if asked, are more than willing to help in any way they can
and are open to suggestion. Often they have very limited knowledge of
specific difficulties and can read low self esteem as an attitude problem.
If they can be persuaded to only change some of their approaches they will
have made a huge difference to many pupils , which is then rewarding for
both teacher and child.

Victoria Crivelli BDACC
 SEN ICT Consultant
 Reviews Editor BDA Computer Committee
 Chair of NASEN ICT Standing Committee
 NAACE SEN Reference Point

 As a parent of a child who is dyslexic I wondered if there are other
 people who feel that the problem of reading and writing is not the biggest concern.

My main concern is my child's self esteem and confidence.  In an
education system that seems to always measure acheivement through what is read
and written, my son always feels like he is struggling and sees himself
negatively within the school system.  Why can schools not use other
mediums such as dictaphones and computers to enable a level playing field for
the dyslexic child?  The most important thing in life or in education is
not being able to read and write.  It is about being able to learn and use
your intelligence and creativity in a positive way.  In a world where
technology is already so advanced there are ways round the problems of not being
able toread or write very well, already computers can read to a child and a
child can control it verbally.  I would also like to see a greater emphasis
placed on the things that children with dyslexia are good at and see these
traits and skills harnessed and developed.

Sue Singleton
Bolton and District Dyslexia Association