Dyslexia Awareness

1st October 2021

A new month begins, it would be remiss of me to write this post without first mentioning what makes this month special.

International Dyslexia Association labels the whole of this month ‘Dyslexia Awareness Month’! To hopefully take some time to demystify some elements of Dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association narrows it further to a ‘Dyslexia Awareness Week’ which starts this Monday , the 4th of October until Sunday the 10th.

Obviously raising awareness is an ongoing necessity but during this week you can find free resources and support which is always helpful.

Have a look at the British Dyslexia Association website for free training and downloadable packs for educational establishments and workplaces.

https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/support-us/awareness-events/dyslexia-awareness-week/dyslexia-week-2021

The BBC also have resources to support teaching to raise awareness this week in the classroom. Short films by dyslexic children themselves.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/dyslexia-awareness-week-teaching-resources/zkw7qfr

Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity have a free online talk especially for parents of children with dyslexia on Wednesday 6th October. You can book a free place on their website or via the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/free-webinar-supporting-children-with-dyslexia-tickets-169600456531

Apparently there will be time for questions and answers at the end of the talk too!

Empower that dyslexic child in your classroom with the knowledge they deserve and allow their peers to become more understanding. For all to understand that along with the difficulties faced there are strengths that should be encouraged and developed.

Take advantage of the free training and resources, try to incorporate some of them into your weekly planning.

Parents, gently remind your child’s teacher that its Dyslexia Awareness Week. They maybe unaware of the free information and resources only a click away.

Knowledge is key, thankfully research studies are continuously taking place all over the world to increase our awareness of Dyslexia and in an attempt to identify any useful strategies or interventions.

The findings are often debated, with many having differing opinions. However, the value of undertaking research can not be dismissed. Long may it continue I say, however hotly debated, it continues to develop the public’s awareness and may even help someone.

Dr Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University has led research recently examining the benefits of increasing letter spacing in text and the use of coloured overlays. The study involved English children between the ages of 11 and 15.

https://inews.co.uk/news/education/children-reading-dyslexia-literacy-extra-space-letters-anglia-ruskin-1224737

They found that increasing letter spacing between each letter in a word could improve reading speed and reduced the number of missed words. Dr Stagg was of the opinion that it helped the ‘crowding effect’.

Whats the ‘crowding effect’ you may ask?

‘Crowding refers to impaired recognition of a target due to the presence of neighboring objects in the peripheral visual field (Bouma, 1970).”

Answer your question???

The ‘Crowding effect’ is also mentioned in numerous other studies, one being Zorzi et al. June 2012. A study of both Italian and French dyslexia children.”

“Extra-large letter spacing helps reading, because dyslexics are abnormally affected by crowding, a perceptual phenomenon with detrimental effects on letter recognition that is modulated by the spacing between letters. Extra-large letter spacing may help to break the vicious circle by rendering the reading material more easily accessible.” “We found identical effects in Italian, a shallow writing system with one- to-one correspondences between letters and sounds, and French, an opaque writing system similar to English.” 

The Debate carries on as usual with others disputing the findings.

Boer & Hakvoorta 2014:

“Increased interletter spacing is thought to reduce crowding effects and to enhance fluent reading. Several studies have shown beneficial effects of increased interletter spacing on reading speed and accuracy, especially in poor readers.”

“However, in adult readers reading speed was shown to be impeded with increased interletter spacing.” 

“They did show reduced reading fluency when letter spacing was smaller than the default spacing, which may be indicative of a crowding effect.”  

“We conclude that an increase in interletter spacing has no effect on word naming fluency.”

As I always say I am not here to voice my opinion merely give both sides. And highlight the need for research to keep on coming.

Up for debate is not only whether the increased spacing helps but whether different ‘font’ is beneficial.

Take a look at ‘The Conversation – June 1016’, article by Eva Marinus and Kevin Wheldall:

https://theconversation.com/spacing-of-letters-not-shape-of-letters-slightly-increases-reading-speed-of-those-with-dyslexia-59316

I do feel these things are always worth a shot, if they work for you then go for it. I imagine for every person it works for there’s another who says it had no effect.

Bruce Lee Workout Quotes. QuotesGram
quotesgram.com

Let’s keep these conversations going though as, if nothing else, it continues to raise awareness.

I hope you can make full use of the various free resources on offer this week.

I will be here again in November, any questions or ideas for possible future posts please contact me below or via my email.

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