What Helps Dyslexic Students

Matthew, Phase I Scholar

Dyslexia is often categorized as a reading disability that affects the speed at which people are able to read or write. As someone who has dyslexia, I have many personal experiences with various tools and techniques designed to help those with dyslexia. In this article, I describe some tools that I have found to be the most helpful to me and perhaps other dyslexics as well. 

Due to my dyslexia, I have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which provides me with accommodations at school. One accommodation provides me copies of the teacher’s PowerPoints and notes after a lecture. Since oftentimes dyslexics struggle to read and write, having the teacher’s notes allows me to pay attention to the lecture. I often have to memorize most information, so by getting the notes and paying attention fully to the lecture, I learn more efficiently. 

Recently, I took a test at a college and they did not allow me to use notes on my final test, even though it was in my IEP. I scored less than 50 percent. When I contacted the school about my IEP and specific accommodations, they let me retake the test with notes, and I scored a 90 percent. I think that providing notes or outlines for all students is something that would help all students learn vocabulary and basic concepts much better.

Another way to support dyslexic students is to offer classes on how to use and troubleshoot interactive software. Although my phone has speech to text software, I always struggled to get my phone to type out what I was saying. By using speech to text software, it allows me and any other slow writer the ability to get our thoughts out. Through DO-IT, I was finally able to successfully use Dragon Speech. I felt comfortable trying out this technology since I knew that the DO‑IT program would provide me with support. Dragon Speech is not a cheap software, which can be daunting to spend if you don’t know if a program will work well for you. Providing classes on available tools and software, and the ability to test them out, could benefit all students.

Finally, an accommodation that really benefits me is extra time to complete work. With extra time I am able to read and process the information. I don’t need extra time because I have bad time management skills. Instead, I use my extra time to have people read and edit my document for grammar and punctuation. I find that although Dragon Speech is good, I can still use some assistance to make sure my message is clear and that takes time, which the IEP allows me to have.

Most of these strategies do not cost extra for the school or the student. If schools implemented these strategies for everyone, all students would be able to be successful. I am lucky that through my accommodations and my disability, I have the opportunity to gain extra support through these options.