Supporting Dyslexia: A Teacher's Perspective
Kathryn Olsen drew on her experience as a teacher and learning support aide to launch Alphability, a tutoring and consultancy service that supports people with learning differences.
With Alphability, Kathryn provides a range of support strategies and tools to help young people to work with, not against, their learning differences. This includes Texthelp’s literacy toolbar, Read&Write. Read on to find out the impact it’s having on Kathryn’s students.
- At Alphability, Kathryn tutors people with learning differences and consults with schools and workplaces on how to accommodate neurodivergent individuals
- The Read&Write toolbar is part of the support package Alphability use to help their students access and engage in learning
With a background as a high school teacher in Science and Mathematics, and later working in Learning Support, Kathryn had been trained in understanding and meeting the needs of students with learning difficulties. Her teaching experience had made her aware of just how many children were entering secondary education without a confident ability to read and write. She knew that these students would fall further behind if nothing was done to help them access learning.
That's why she founded Alphability, a service that provides support to people with Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) and learning differences.
Alphability provides evidence-based tuition in literacy, numeracy and essential study skills. They work with parents and teachers to identify and support children with learning difficulties.
"Simple adjustments in the classroom can make a big difference in learning."
Kathryn’s students range from kindergarten through to Year 12, and many have a diagnosis of dyslexia, dysgraphia or ADHD. In this clip, she explains how unaddressed learning difficulties can have a long-term impact on a person's confidence.
Did you know that 1 in 10 people in Australia have dyslexia? Dyslexic thinkers are often creative and innovative problem-solvers. They're able to recognise patterns that others might have missed.
If we recognise and embrace different ways of thinking and learning, we can help more students reach their potential. Read&Write enables students to study in ways that best suit their needs.
While working in the ACT public school system, Kathryn had used Texthelp’s literacy support toolbar, Read&Write. She understood how this tool served the needs of students with learning difficulties, helping them to access and engage in learning.
Read&Write’s literacy toolbar offers discreet support to students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Hear Kathryn explain why Read&Write was her first choice as an assistive tool to support students.
How it supports students
Read&Write acts as a literacy partner for your student, providing tools which help them to understand texts and articulate their own ideas. Kathryn talks about some key features and how they help her students.
Tools to support reading
Read&Write will read a text aloud to students, highlighting each word as it's spoken. This helps students build associations between how a word looks and sounds. The speed and accent of the speaker are fully adjustable, allowing students to read along at a pace that's comfortable for them.
Simplify a text
The Simplify feature allows students to remove distractions from a webpage and adjust the size and colour of the text so it's easier to read and understand. Kathryn's found this feature especially useful for improving focus and reducing cognitive load in students with ADHD.
Tools to support writing
Read&Write helps students to get their thoughts into writing.
- Students can speak into their device and have it automatically transcribe into text using Read&Write's dictation tool. This is great for notetaking and capturing thoughts which they can later craft into sentences
- With the prediction tool, learners can receive visual word prompts as they write, helping them to write with better flow
- An age-appropriate dictionary tool includes pictures and audio to help students grasp the meaning of new words
Help with proofreading
Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Reading tools like text-to-speech can also help with the editing process.
Kathryn's students use Read&Write to read their work back to them, helping them to spot any spelling or grammar mistakes they may have missed.
Best things about Read&Write
Beyond the features, Kathryn shares some of the things she enjoys about Read&Write, including its accessible design, ease of use and compatibility with different platforms and devices.
For Kathryn, Read&Write has become an important part of her teaching toolkit.
“Read&Write has changed the way I teach in so many ways,” says Kathryn, “particularly in making sure that my lessons are accessible to all students.”
Not only does the toolbar support students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties, it also provides translation and comprehension aids to students who have English as a Second Language.
“Read&Write allows my students to work more independently.”
Before getting access to Read&Write, Kathryn had to spend a lot of time working alongside her students with additional needs. This left her students feeling frustrated and dependent on her assistance. Checking their work, reading passages to them and assisting them with writing also took time and attention away from other students in the classroom.
But now her students have support tools at their fingertips, allowing them to grow their literacy skills and confidence and keep pace with their peers. By using the Screen-masking and Simplify features, her students can stay on task and retain their focus.
“It’s amazing that it can cover such a wide range of ages, ability and needs.”
What makes Read&Write so useful is the range of features it offers. It helps students not just with reading and writing, but also with comprehension, vocabulary building, study skills and focus. Its features are customisable and suitable for all age groups.
Through providing Read&Write to her students, Kathryn has seen increased learner engagement with the curriculum and therefore better learning outcomes.
Support literacy, focus and organisation with Read&Write
Suitable for students of all ages, Read&Write is an all-in-one tool designed to help students read, write and study with confidence.
By providing it to students, teachers like Kathryn are seeing improved learner engagement and outcomes.
Read&Write helps students to:
- Understand and engage with reading assignments
- Remove background distractions
- Build vocabulary and writing confidence