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Dyslexia and exam access arrangements: What you need to know.



Here in the UK the schools are currently enjoying their Easter break before the exam season commences.  Students all of the country will be using this time to start revising for G.C.S.E and A-Level examinations that will be taking place in May and June.

Some students will be experiencing some anxiety as they try to bridge the gap between their dyslexic thinking style and the particularly non-dyslexic friendly exam system that will be testing them over these next months.

If you are a parent or teacher supporting a dyslexic student then you will know that the student should be entitled to 'reasonable adjustments' that will help to reduce the barriers to learning that having dyslexia often presents.  The question is, what reasonable adjustments are being provided for when students walk into the exam room?

This article seeks to provide you with some signposts to information that is out there that will inform your thinking on this topic.

What to expect in SEND support form your school or college?


The British Dyslexia Association's Dyslex.io website has some useful information about what to expect from schools in terms of SEND support.  


http://www.dyslex.io/whole-school-approach

Equally the UK Gov website gives an overview of the rights of a 'disabled' student in not being discriminated against as they learn.  If dyslexia is providing a barrier to learning then this applies.


https://www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/education-rights

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How can a student be supported in an exam?

The JISC have a very useful blog article about exams access and how this is slowly changing to be more useful for students.

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/take-advantage-of-digital-exam-formats-for-print-impaired-learners-27-may-2015

TES bring an interesting perspective on how the current system is letting down students with SEND.


This particular article is interesting as there is a wealth of technology available that provides access to text which can easily be used to read out exam papers in a non disruptive way in an exam room.  Historically there has been issues to do with the logistics of securely providing electronic exam papers that provide access, but ultimately, in using software or hardware solutions the student builds up more independence rather than relying on a human reader.  Equally there are some real benefits in terms of not feeling awkward about reading a particular passage again in using a computer based solution.

In a recent trial of the text to speech software, SprintPlus, 10 students were given SprintPlus to use to read out their mock G.C.S.E exams.  SprintPlus simply reads out text to the user and easily enables the user to navigate around the text on a PDF exam paper.  
In the trial, out of the ten students, nine of them preferred to use text to speech over that of using a human reader as it was more comfortable for them in terms of getting what they needed read out.  This enabled the students to feel less anxious about reading exam papers thus enabling them to be more focused on expressing what they knew about the exam topics.

Equally the reality of using assistive technology is that the student will be able to use that technology in their future career for use with reading content in Word documents, websites and PDF documents.  It makes sense to help students to develop a strategy that works for them that future proofs their abilities as opposed to using human intervention with reading as this is not practical in the workplace setting.

I hope that you have found this article useful and please do comment below and also share this article on social media if you know others that would benefit from reading it.

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