teaching ideas: modifications for dyslexia and other LD

I’ve had a variety of students, at all levels from basic literacy to university courses, present with dyslexia and other LD*. I am by no means an expert in LD, but through consultation with students, the Disability Services advisors at my college, and my own research, I’ve come across some suggestions for modification that work for SOME students. Not every LD is the same, and not every student with a particular LD is the same. The key, I think, is to try things and see if they work. If they don’t, you can try something else.

1. CHALLENGE: slow reading speed
TECHNIQUE: listen to audio version at the same time as reading the print version
OUTCOME: increased reading speed; increased confidence; increased enjoyment of reading

I had a student (officially diagnosed with dyslexia) with very slow reading speed. This frustrated her to the point where she disliked reading intensely and avoided it. She persevered through my basic literacy course and eventually came to enjoy reading, but it was still frustrating and difficult for her. One of her accommodations through Disability Services was recorded versions of print material. She discovered that if she listened to the audiobook version AND read along with the print version AT THE SAME TIME, she gradually increased her reading speed.

2. CHALLENGE: difficulty decoding print materials
TECHNIQUE: use Open Dyslexic font for handouts; students with access to a computer, e-reader, or smartphone may download the font for reading online or digital materials
OUTCOME: print or digital material is clearer and easier to read; learners can read for longer periods of time with less fatigue

Many people with dyslexia or other LD find that letters and words on the page look confusing–letters look like other letters, or they rotate. They might even feel sick after trying to read a lot of print/digital material. Some of this confusion can be reduced with the Open Dyslexic font, free to download:

The open-sourced font features heavily-weighted bottoms to help give letters “gravity,” thus curbing the brain’s ability to rotate characters and make them look like other letters, explains the OpenDyslexic Web site.

*Some people define LD as “learning difficulties,” while others define it as “learning differences”; I leave it abbreviated as LD so it can apply to either preference.

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