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  • Eli Stuart (they/them)

Dyslexia Supports

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Dyslexia is a disability that causes “by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities” (The International Dyslexia Association, November 12th, 2002). Dyslexia is lifelong and isn’t “cured”, but there are things that can help with reading, writing, math, and other tasks that are impacted by dyslexia.


Dyslexia Friendly Formats:

When typing or reading something in which you can change the text, fonts like Arial and Comic sans are easier to read with dyslexia. In fact, there is a specific font made for dyslexic people called Openfont Dyslexia. You can download an extension on your computer and it will change all text to that font. As a dyslexic person, going from a non-dyslexic-friendly font to something like Openfont Dyslexia makes my brain relax (sounds weird, I know) like there was some tension there I was unaware of until I switched font. A color like sepia instead of white for e-books can also be helpful (that and other color contrasts beyond black text on white pages.


Audio Formats:

Audio versions of what you’re reading help in understanding what you’re reading and avoid getting mixed up. I find it works best in conjunction with looking at the text itself, but you can just use the audiobook. There are extensions and sometimes a built-in feature to read aloud text on your device. Most of them allow you to toggle them on or off, but if you have it on most of the time, you may run into some mishaps of sort (ie: clicking a youtube link and you forgot to turn it off then the URL is read aloud, letter by letter, number by number).


Testing:

For those in school, it is very common to have extra time on tests that require reading, writing, or math to give you enough time to reread and understand the material, write correctly, and do calculations without number errors. Further, there is the ability to use a 4-function calculator on tests like the “No Calculator Section” of the SAT to prevent calculation errors from dyslexia (or dyscalculia, a disability often comorbid with dyslexia). Tests may also be administered orally, meaning a person will read out the test and answer choices for the student. Dysgraphia, another disability comorbid with dyslexia, can have difficulty translating answers from the test to a bubble sheet/scantron and so may be allowed to record their answers in the test itself or can have someone who will transcribe and record the answers on the bubble sheet. This can also give someone the ability to have a scribe for writing responses. Students may be able to use a computer to complete writing responses


Reading on Paper:

The discussions of reading texts with dyslexia-friendly fonts or with the aid of audiobooks have already been mentioned. However, reading something on paper without that option can also be difficult. For some, but not all, highlighting or color overlays works. This is because the path between hemispheres in those with dyslexia is delayed/different than non-dyslexic people in terms of how visual information is translated by the brain. Color overlays work because they change the way information is perceived visually, leading text in reading to pass from the left hemisphere to the right hemisphere easier.


Writing:

Outside of school or work, speech-to-text can be helpful in writing. Additionally, students may be allowed to use a computer to take notes or to do written responses (this can also be a testing accomendation). Having access to a spellchecker and an electronic dictionary can also be helpful for writing various assignments.


Day-to-day:

Specifically looking at school (and high school or lower based on my current experience), there are certain accommodations for day-to-day operations. These can include a copy of class notes, the ability to get verbal instructions rather than just written ones, and extended time for lengthy projects, especially ones that focus heavily on reading or writing. Less common is the ability to waive the Language Other Than English (LOTE) requirements. To do so, one must first attempt and fail significantly at their LOTE class and does not have an option like ASL (American Sign Language) that the student can transfer into. NOTE: if you are dyslexic in one language, you are dyslexic in other languages. ASL is a popular choice for dyslexic students since it takes away the problem of misspelling words, especially those where messing up the endings can make the sentence completely different (ASL mostly uses signs with minimal fingerspelling) and those with phonological dyslexia don't deal with the issue of being unable to decode the sounds in words.


Are there supports that were not mentioned above that you have found helpful? Feel free to comment them below!


For a deeper look at dyslexia, see Deep Dive: Dyslexia


Sources:

My own experience as a dyslexic person who also has 504 accommodations for it

My (ASL) teacher, Eric Breland, who is also dyslexic and has been helpful in figuring out what accommodations are helpful for dyslexic students




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