By Teachers, For Teachers
As a teacher, working with students with certain disabilities can be challenging but rewarding work. These students will have just as much will and energy as your healthier students, and sometimes even more so. What’s important, however, especially with students suffering from dyslexia, is to be patient and take your time with them. These students might do things a bit slower than others, like writing, reading, connecting the dots, etc. This doesn’t mean that they are incapable of following your lectures; it just means it takes them a bit longer than most. However, there are certain ways that technology in the classroom and recent breakthroughs can make working with dyslexic learners much easier than before. Let’s take a look at some of the techniques and adjustments and technology in the classroom we can use in order to help our pupils.
Before you begin lecturing to students with dyslexia, you need to understand them first. They will be more than aware of their condition and willing to help you understand how to work with them. The key in implementing any sort of new technology in the classroom or teaching method is to first understand the context of their disability. If one student has trouble listening, and another one trouble with reading, how will you combine their troubles and create a universal solution?
The best way to prepare for teaching students with dyslexia is to adjust the material in question to their individual needs. That way you can monitor their progress on a more personal level and guide them to complete their tasks in the best possible way that works for them personally. Talking before you do anything is the key, so make sure you don’t rush it and have plenty of patience ready for dyslexic learners.
Text to speech (and vice versa) is a great tool that can help you adjust the lessons you are teaching to dyslexic learners. Like we’ve mentioned before, dyslexia makes learners slower than usual, meaning that some tasks come harder to them than to most.
By using text to speech, you can help some students hear the material instead of reading it, and help others to read it instead of listening to it. Keep in mind that you will also need to adjust the pacing of your teaching -- everything will go a bit slower than you are used to, but your students will be very grateful that you took the time to teach them something new.
It might come as a surprise, but if you let your students use auditory notes software, it might just be the thing they need. Dyslexic people sometimes have trouble jotting down notes or even writing more complex notes when listening to what you have to say. You can amend this by giving them an option to use tools such as Evernote that let you quickly and efficiently take notes and not lose a single beat.
By using such software with your dyslexic students, you will also promote a good relationship with other participants in the class who will also want to use that tool. Auditory notes might sound like something that will keep interrupting you over and over, but fear not, your students will more than respect anything you are willing to tell them. After all, you just provided them with a very useful tool that can make their everyday life so much easier.
We have already mentioned adjusting your materials to suit your students a bit better, but what does that mean exactly? A number of things will have to change, unfortunately. You will have to make all of your materials digital and hardware friendly in order to accommodate for the dyslexic student’s needs.
Another good idea is to make all of your studying material a part of a cohesive whole. This means that all of your lessons, texts and assignments should be filed and named in a structured way, helping the students orient themselves better. You can do this by using one of the many professional writing services online. A service such as OKdissertations.com will make sure that your text and written content are adapted to whatever audience you are working with.
Dyslexic students have trouble with adjusting to new and unfamiliar things, so making this process easy for them is essential. Help them focus on the process of learning and studying instead of familiarizing themselves with new tools or a new studying system. Throwing in simple and straightforward memory exercise at the end of each lesson will help adjust themselves to the materials as well, making this an essential part of working with dyslexic learners.
Believe it or not, most of today’s computer and Internet developments came from trying to help people with special needs. Your computer, whether it’s a PC or a Mac, has built-in options that can help dyslexic learners overcome obstacles and become much better at handling everyday assignments. Options such as font size, font color or even text-to-speech have become so predominant and “Normal” to us that we forget their much more important applications.
The now-standard mouse and keyboard options and adjustments can help your students a great deal because they allow complete customization of peripherals. Make sure that your students are comfortable using a computer first and foremost by adjusting these settings to suit their needs. Even web browsers are accustomed to help people with needs such as dyslexia and adjust their content to suit their needs.
Like we’ve mentioned before, a huge number of scientific and technological breakthroughs have been made due to the fact that some people need specialized tools to function. One such tool comes from AbilityNet, and it makes computer devices much easier to use for dyslexic learners. Best of all, these tools are funded by global organizations that want to make technology accessible for everyone, meaning that it’s completely free. This is only one of the many open-source applications and tools that you can place on the computer that will be used by a student suffering from dyslexia.
Make sure that you explore the web and find out what other software is available for dyslexic learners before you put your students in front of a screen. Once a dyslexic tries to use the computer and fails due to the fact that nothing was done to adjust the technology to their needs, they might feel incapable of further using it. Try to avoid this and prepare everything in advance with open-source, free software.