Use online software tools - OpenDyslexic changes text into a font that makes it easier for people with dyslexia to read. TTS Reader is a text-to-speech reading software. Grammarly is a free online writing assistant tool that proofreads learners work tells them how they could strengthen their writing.
Discuss support early - Let learners know early on that extra support is available and how they can access that support. Make sure it’s an easy process for them. If it’s not, offer to help them with accessing it.
Ask learners what they need - There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Focus on exploring learners’ individual strengths and work with them to understand their goals – this will boost learners’ motivation and will help you know how they learn best. Ask learners what they need so you can help them. Do they have the right devices and tools? Where else are they getting support? How would they like to be helped?
Understand your learners - If a learner has a learning difficulty you know little about, take the opportunity to understand what they're going through. A range of resources to help you with diverse learning needs can be found on our Knowledge Hub. Doing this research will help you teach them more effectively and be compassionate about the challenges they are facing. In this case, compassion includes support, bending the rules where needed, and providing extra time for assignments.
Use Microsoft digital learning tools – If your organisation uses Microsoft products try adding live captions or subtitles into your PowerPoints, recommend students try Microsoft’s Immersive Reader for reading (which supports a Read Aloud function), or the Math Assistant. This spreadsheet provides a handy guide for what tools are available on Microsoft devices and software.
Develop a tool library - Learners may not have the devices they need to access assistive technologies. Consider providing a library of devices that come pre-installed with assistive technologies. Install hard cases and straps to reduce accidents, and tracking applications to prevent theft and to ease any learners’ anxieties. Include manuals and guides for the devices and software provided – don’t assume that just because they’re young, they know how to use technology.
Provide engagement options - Some learners may struggle reading text, others may find it difficult to focus on long podcasts or lectures. If possible, deliver your content in both written and oral formats, and make sure to record all lectures so your learners can re-watch and follow along in their own time.
Create bite-sized learning - For learners with attention difficulties, attending an hour-long lecture will be hard. Provide these learners with a break-down of topics covered in the lecture e.g., Cow Parasites: 0:00 - 12:30; Sheep Parasites: 12:30-25:20. This way they can split up the lecture and learn in bite-sized chunks to avoid losing attention.
Schedule one-on-one time - Set aside time for regular one-on-one catchups with learners. This is a good time to provide feedback on their progress, and for them to ask questions or to go over content they may not have understood. This also helps to build relationships with learners, which will positively impact their tech-enabled learning experiences.
Explore additional tech-based tools
- C-Pen connect scans text and can be uploaded to a cloud drive, sent in a message, or read aloud
- Neostudio combines a smartpen and app to capture and transfer handwritten notes and drawings into a digital format. Livescribe is another smartpen option
- Inspiration 10 and Miro are visual white board tools
- Sonocent and Glean are audio notetaking solutions
- Dragon Professional uses your voice to operate computer programmes, search the web, and write notes
- Read&Write is a literacy support tool with a range of additional accessibility tools. It can also be integrated with Windows tools, Google Workspace for Education, and Apple products, and even some Learning Management Systems. Not all features require internet access either.
We assess our students before our programmes including our Level 5s because it gives us a good ground of where they’re at.
- Inclusive education
- The New Zealand Dyslexia-Friendly Quality Mark
- AKO Aotearoa list of dyslexia resources, and in particular:
- Information on Invisible Disabilities by University of Auckland
- Universal Design for Learning on Te Kete Ipurangi.
Resources to refer learners to:
- National Disabled Students’ Association Facebook group – Non-partisan national body representing disabled learners, aiming to challenge the barriers facing disabled learners within tertiary education.
- ADHD New Zealand – New Zealand’s largest, longest-standing non-profit organisation, committed to supporting those living with ADHD.