Supporting all students – Communication & Dyslexia

Ideas to improving communication from ai:

  • Use the OpenDyslexic font for text. This font is uniquely designed to boost readability with increased boldness in the base of letters, such as ‘d’ and ‘b’.
    • Not all fonts create a unique shape for each letter and having b d p q all using the same symbol can make interpretation difficult.
    • If you don’t want to present your resources in Open Dyslexic for everyone, consider sharing word documents to allow student to adjust the font to their preference.
  • Highlight essential information. Sometimes information or directions are written in paragraph form and contain many units of information. These can be overwhelming for people with dyslexia.
    • Underline or highlight the significant parts
    • Use dot points to emphasise key information
    • Use symbols or headings consistently to help a student find tasks, actions or questions
  • Make information available in written and audiovisual formats for review. Replaying and reviewing allows someone the opportunity to clarify their understanding.
    • Presenting the same information in multiple formats can allow students to choose how to engage with learning as it suits them at different times.
    • Student preferences and capacity to engage can change over time depending on what else is happening in their life. Having the ability to read, watch a video, or listen allows students to pick the resources that are most appropriate to where they are at the time (i.e. if a student is walking, they may wish to listen to an audio recording, whereas if they are in transit they may prefer to watch a video but when they are in a quiet environment, they may prefer to read and create notes).
    • Giving students choice can be as simple as having a video and a formatted transcript with key images integrated.
  • Combine verbal and visual information. Verbal information can be provided with visual displays (e.g. a handout supplementing the presentation).
    • This is similar to the point above, multiple formats support student autonomy and choice. Choice is always good and  doesn’t have to be that much more work for you.
    • If you’ve made a video which includes slides – ensure you provide a copy of the slides to students to allow them to ‘follow along’ or annotate with the extra information you provide. When using PowerPoint or similar, try to avoid just reading off the slides.
  • Use assistive technology where appropriate. Assistive technology products such as tablets and text-to-speech programs can be useful to tailor content to fit accessibility needs and preferences.
    • Typically students who have dyslexia or other diagnosis will be most aware of what they need to succeed (here are some examples of technologies already available to everyone) and may have an Equitable Learning Plan to assist them in having the resources in the required format. But before you fully depend on these services, consider the potential impact on students who receive transcripts 2-4 weeks after a lecture and how that may contribute to their learning experience and capacity to meet assessment deadlines while fully engaging in the learning community.
    • Providing resources in the most flexible formats will help all students to engage in their learning. If you’re not sure what format or types of resources will benefit your students the most,  just ask them.
      • Some examples include – having closed captions on every video (if you cannot verify the quality of all videos prior to releasing the caption, have a mechanism for students to provide feedback on the quality of the captions or a shared document where the whole cohort can edit and  improve the captions (and/or transcript). Including alt text on every image this allows screen readers to ‘describe the image’ to someone who cannot see it. Alt text is also displayed when an image cannot be loaded – this will allow students to understand what image they were supposed to see if a link breaks for some reason. Note, Canvas has the option to use Alt Text whenever you upload an image.
  • Provide a copy of any notes.
    • Create a culture where students share their summaries or notes from different sessions. This could be a defined task, discussion board, or channel where students are asked to share pictures of their notes, a concept map or similar. This act of sharing supports students to see how others are approaching tasks and allows students to independently confirm they are focusing on the same things as the rest of the class. As the educator, this channel also allows you to get an early ‘peak’ at what students appear to be struggling with or items they are prioritising to allow you to adjust and refocus as requires.
    • You may also want to spend some time discussing note taking strategies with the cohort including the outline method, Cornell method, Boxing, Charting, Mapping or others.
  • Provide an outline of presentations and meetings. An outline enables one to follow along successfully and make appropriate notes. Moreover, an outline helps one to see the organisation of the material and ask timely questions.
    • This could be an agenda if it is meeting, or simply a lesson plan for a tutorial or lecture.
    • Having this type of information provided prior to the session helps set a framework for students to add their growing knowledge to.

 

These ideas were initially compiled by ai, as mechanisms to support dyslexic students. Current research suggests possibly between 10 and 20% of the population may have dyslexia, if dyslexia is this common then it is likely some of your peers, or students will have it.

What is dyslexia?

From made by dyslexia

“Dyslexic minds process information differently. Our divergent, lateral thinking has created some of the world’s greatest inventions, brands and art. Yet dyslexia is still perceived as a disadvantage.

Schools aren’t designed for dyslexic thinking, most teachers aren’t trained in dyslexia, meaning most dyslexic kids are unidentified and unsupported.”

Do you think like a Dyslexic?

Here is a short (5 min) task created by made by dyslexia. The questions may help you see the positive creative approaches people with dyslexia may have.

Want to learn more:

Microsoft has a strong commitment to inclusion and has a range of online learning modules on inclusive teaching and meeting the needs of diverse learners ; sometimes there are a bit product centric but as short self paced modules, they provide valuable information about tools we and our students have access to.

Made by dyslexia has some interesting information and focuses on the benefits of dyslexia.

Learning and Study Strategies in University Students with Dyslexia: Implications for Teaching. (2012). Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1184–1193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.798   this link has direct access via the RMIT library
As always the learning enhancement team is available to support you on seh.adg.let@rmit.edu.au or your friendly academic developer.