For this next exercise you will need a pen, a piece of paper and a watch. Please copy down the following text using the opposite hand to which you usually write with. You should complete the task within two minutes.
Mae gwaith yr Uned Dyslecsia yn ymestyn dros ardal eang Gogledd-Orllewin Cymru, a'r rhan helaethaf ohoni'n wledig. O ganlyniad, nid yw'r Uned yn cynnal canolfan addysgu. Mae ganddi swyddfeydd ac ystafelloedd at ddefnydd athrawon, ond addysgir yn bennaf mewn ysgolion neu leoedd eraill.
Did you find that difficult? If you are a native Welsh speaker probably not!
There are many elements to that exercise that make it difficult. Reading from a screen, letter for letter transcription, knowing that you had a limited amount of time to get a complete set of notes, difficulties with writing because you were using the wrong hand, difficulties with spelling because of the unfamiliar language.
Students with dyslexia find taking notes in lectures difficult because of a similar list of problems. Many have handwriting difficulties, have problems listening and writing at the same time and have difficulties spelling (especially unfamiliar words that often crop up in academic lectures).
Here are some suggestions of how you might ease this burden :
- write down main points and terminology for students
- provide handouts, summaries or copies of notes and OHTs
- be sympathetic to students using tape recorders in classes
- avoid dictation
- provide guided/structured lectures, indicate changes in topics and key points
- allow students time to absorb information
Even now, this year, I've had to talk to a lecturer because she wouldn't give the handouts out at the start of the lecture. She said, 'I'm not giving these handouts out because you just won't listen to me and what I want to do is to make you think.' I could understand her reasoning... but if it's the structure of the lecture to give you a guideline of what it's going through, and maybe aims and objectives, then I can't see the point in not handing that out.
The way you structure a lecture can either have a positive impact or a negative impact on people with learning disabilities.
So there needs to be a clear structure to whatever you are doing; whether it is a seminar a group workshop, and a clear learning outcome so you know where you are heading, because I've spent a lot of time trying to work out what workshops are about.
I found it really encouraging last year when I said that some of the lecturers said, 'I know we have people with learning disabilities and if you need to come down here and stick a tape-recorder in front of me while I am teaching this lecture, I have no problem with that.' It's really intimidating and embarrassing to have to go up to a... You are forever having to explain yourself... 'I've got this learning disability.'
Ruth, 1st year, Diploma in Social Work