In a great article written by dyslexia expert and advocate, Kelly Sandman-Hurley Ed.D. offers some incredible insight about this language-based disability and debunks some myths. The following is an excerpt from her article (Sandman-Hurley, 2014, para. 2-3):
The following passage is about dyslexia. I want you to assume that I will be asking you a comprehension question or two when you are done. You have one minute. Go!
The bottob line it thit it doet exitt, no bitter whit nibe teotle give it (i.e. ttecific leirning ditibility, etc). In fict, iccording to Tilly Thiywitz (2003) itt trevilence it ictuilly one in five children, which it twenty tercent.
How was that? Did you stumble on some words? Did you skip words and or substitute with "whatever" or "something?" Based on experience, I am going to guess this was not easy for you. I will guess that if I asked you to read this in front of your peers, who are prone to judgment, you would feel anxious. I am also going to guess that if I asked you to tell me what you learned from the passage, you wouldn't be able to recall any important information.
Essentially, as Sandman-Hurley writes, you just experienced dyslexia. This experience was enlightening for me and made me fully realize the responsibility we have as educators to create instructional experiences that support students with unique learning needs, particularly in the online setting where instructors may not be able to see the struggle as clearly as in a physical classroom.
Tips for Designing with Dyslexia in Mind
Here are some tips for online design adapted from Sandman-Hurleyas suggestions and Universal Design principles.
- Allow students the opportunity to record audio as an option for some assignments instead of strictly writing. Writing can be overwhelmingly challenging for students with dyslexia and that barrier may impact whether or not they can demonstrate their knowledge of the content of the course.
- Consider whether time limits for exams are really necessary. Time limits create an added pressure for students with dyslexia that may negatively impact their exam scores even if they know the content well. This could also negatively impact students with English as a Second Language (ESL) or those with other cognitive disabilities.
- Provide content/materials for lessons in multiple formats (text, audio, video) whenever possible.
- Give students multiple options for completing assessments that can better highlight their strengths. For instance, instead of writing a paper perhaps students can choose to create a video or PowerPoint presentation with audio.
One in five people have some form of language-based learning disability (Sandman-Hurley, 2014). You may not be aware but chances are good that every class you teach has at least several students with some level of dyslexia or other language-based learning disability that they may or may not have disclosed. For that reason, itas crucial to consider how to best support these students (and all students) in the design of your course.
Full article: Sandman-Hurley, K. (2014, October 23). Dyslexia in the General Education Classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/dyslexia-in-general-ed-classroom-kelli-sandman-hurley?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-dyslexia-general-education-classroom-image