Category Archives: Blog

Dyslexia Is Not An Illness Or An Injury

Dyslexia is not an illness or an injury – it is not something that you can ‘get better’ from, but is a learning difference which means you need to approach some things differently. Nor does dyslexia mean that you are ‘less intelligent’ than someone else – but using the same judgments for those with and those without dyslexia creates an unfair playing field.

 

Perhaps to use physical terms (even though your brain is, in effect, just another organ) you wouldn’t ask someone with poor eyesight to just try to look harder or someone who was wheelchair-bound that they just weren’t trying hard enough.

 

Instead, just like wearing glasses, people with dyslexia may need some assistance with some tasks. Again, like those glasses you may use to help you see, so there is technology available to help those with learning differences like dyslexia to get along in a world that isn’t always designed to suit.

 

The law requires that workplaces make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help those with dyslexia to do their job and the range of support available to students has never been better, yet there still remains a great level of misunderstanding about things like dyslexia.

 

If these types of difference are not recognised and acted upon then we will continue to see a society where those with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and other similar neurodiversities will be marginalised or simply treated as being ‘stupid.’

 

In fact, tests have shown this to be far from the case, and some employers are going out of their way to court neurodivergent employees in order to make the most of any differences in thought pattern and levels of creativity.

 

So, rather than seeing those with dyslexia as having something ‘wrong’ with them, like a broken leg that can be set and fixed, we need to recognise that dyslexia is merely a difference – just like your hair or eye colour, except that it is a difference with how your brain is wired. Not better, not worse, just different – with its own benefits and drawbacks.

 

Dyslexia is not something that we need to ‘cure,’ it is something that we need to accommodate in a world that all-too-often is just not designed with dyslexics in mind. Only when we do this can we unlock potential and fully appreciate the great benefits that neurodiversity can bring.

The Personal Touch – With Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology or ‘A.T.’ is specialist technology that helps support those with disabilities and learning needs. It can be either software or hardware and can be awarded through either Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) or Access To Work (ATW) schemes.

 

Designed to help students and employees overcome any difficulties they may have, for example with dyslexia, ADHD, or autism, Assistive Technology comes in a number of different forms depending on requirements.

 

However, since everyone is unique, Vocendi believe that any Assistive technology support should be matched to the needs of the individual, rather than seeking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, as is favoured by some other providers.

 

In fact, Vocendi offer one-to-one training sessions where an individual’s needs can be assessed so that the best solution can be found for each person. This holistic approach offers users a unique experience tailored for them rather than trying to cut corners to get as many people on board as possible without actually doing much to really help.

 

Vocendi make sure that our trainers have the rights skills and experience to offer this personal touch when it comes to Assistive Technology. With this in mind, we have implemented a competency framework to monitor and assess our team to ensure that service users have the best possible experience.

 

We believe that everyone has the right to reach their full potential and that far from being a burden, those who require Assistive Technology have a great deal to offer just as long as there is the help required to achieve this potential.

 

Of course, the Equality Act means that discriminating against someone in the workplace because of a condition like dyslexia is illegal and reasonable adjustments are expected to be made by an employer to prevent this.

 

The same can be said for those who are studying, with Disabled Students Allowance designed to help people be all they can rather than being side-lined due to disability or a learning difficulty.

 

You can find out more about our services and how they can help you right here on Vocendi.com – don’t settle for less, be all you can with Assistive Technology and support!

Lifting The Lid On Hidden Disabilities

As people, it seems that many of us are guilty of ignoring what we can’t see. This can be seen in how so many are happy to ignore the plight of the poverty-stricken, refugees, homeless, and others in similar situations. So long as it doesn’t impact on our daily lives, it seems that many people are happy to carry on as if these things don’t exist.

 

However, it is not just societal ills that people turn a blind eye to – but also things such as mental health issues and hidden disabilities such as dyslexia. While we wouldn’t berate someone in a wheelchair for not being able to climb a flight of stairs, it is all too easy to ignore the less-obvious disabilities and issues that others may face.

 

A large part of this is because conditions such as dyslexia are not immediately obvious, often went unrecognised, and were frequently misrepresented as someone not trying, or being ‘stupid.’ Of course, things have steadily improved over the years, but our ability to recognise and appreciate the effects of hidden disabilities still leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Fortunately, with anti-discrimination laws in place, it is becoming harder for employers and others in positions of power to discriminate against those with conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD. In fact, employers are now required to take reasonable steps to accommodate and support those with these types of conditions.

 

It is not just in the workplace that there have been advances in supporting those with such conditions, but there is also a great deal that can be done to help students to thrive and reach their true potential despite of their dyslexia, ADHD, or other hidden disability.

 

Assistive technology has helped immensely, and is something that we at Vocendi take seriously, but it is not just a question of throwing technology at the problem. It is also about attitudes. As employers, teachers and tutors become more aware of hidden disabilities and how to support those with them, so we are all able to better see the potential of those who have them. Far from being judged by a condition, we can now look to the strengths rather than dwell on the difficulties.

 

Out of sight, out of mind may still be a real attitude problem in our society, but hidden disabilities needn’t and shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet or passed off as something else. It is all about education, knowledge and understanding – not for those with the condition as much as for those without.

 

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

Understanding Access To Work

The 2010 Equality Act means that all employers have to make reasonable adjustments to support employees with disabilities, health or mental health conditions. In this instance, the scope of what might constitute a ‘disability’ is pretty broad and includes anything that may affect your ability to do a job or mean you have to pay extra work-related costs.

 

This means that conditions such as dyslexia are included, so long as you are over 16 and working, whether that is for someone else or even starting up your own business. If this is the case, then you may be eligible for an access to work grant from the government.

 

This has caused confusion among some employers, who do not quite understand how this all works or what the money can be used for.

 

Among the possible things the grant could pay for there are adaptations to existing equipment, new equipment, fares to work if public transport is not an option, a support worker or job coach to assist in the workplace, disability training for colleagues, and even a communicator to help at a job interview.

 

The reasonable steps that employers take to help disabled employees needn’t be all about money either. It could be as simple as making allowances when it comes to things like hot-desking, or letting a wheelchair user work on the ground floor.

 

The fact is, employers are under a legal obligation to make things easier in the workplace for those with a ‘disability.’ In some instances, this help can be withheld, for example in a high pressure role where safety is an issue, such as the medical profession, it may be that your disability cannot be adequately supported while still ensuring the safety of patients.

 

That said, each case is different, so it is important that employers and employees understand how access to work happens. There needs to be honest and open dialogue for this to work, which means understanding what you or your employees are eligible for.

 

There is more information on Access To Work on the government’s website, and also right here at Vocendi. So, if you are an assessor, employer, or even feel you could be eligible for assistance don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Teachers To Get Training In Supporting Children With Autism

With more than one in every 100 children on the autistic spectrum, and 70% of those attending mainstream schools there is every chance that a teacher will encounter autistic students at some point during their career. However, until now, there has been no mandatory provision for teaching teachers how to recognise and help pupils with special educational needs (SEN), such as autism.  What’s more a NASUWT survey saw six in ten teachers reveal that they hadn’t been given training required to teach autistic children.

 

However, that all looks set to change after the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, responded to a letter she received on behalf of 7,000 people, including teachers and other MPs, asking her to include autism training as part of the initial teacher training in England.

 

The letter prompted Ms. Morgan to act, announcing that “we want Initial Teacher Training to include focus on SEN including specifically supporting children with autism.”

 

Autism training is now set to become part of the core training for teachers – but why is this so important?

 

Many teachers received no special educational needs training at all, despite many classes including pupils with conditions such as autism. This meant that these teachers may have been unaware of how their classes may have been having a negative effect on some pupils, and potentially damaging a child’s education as a result.

 

If a teacher is unable to recognise autism in their pupils, then they are unable to understand and support them in properly.

 

As Mark Lever, the chief executive of the National Autistic Society noted, “Teachers don’t need to be experts in autism. But a general knowledge of the lifelong condition and the different ways it can affect a child’s time in school will make a huge difference. For instance, some children really struggle with change, so much so that a new seating plan or lesson structure can be extremely distressing. Simple changes, like gradually preparing a child for changes and communicating them carefully, can make a huge difference.”

 

While we recognise that there is much work to be done to implement this (and make sure it works), this is a good first step in ensuring no child is left out or side-lined because of an unrecognised educational need.

An Introduction to Text-to-Speech Software

Text-to-Speech software is a great tool for those who may struggle with conditions like dyslexia, but what is it exactly and how does it work?

 

Quite simply, the software will read documents back to you so that you can listen to the words on a page rather than having to read them yourself. Not only is this great for dyslexics, but it can be useful for other users too – allowing you to sit back and listen to long documents rather than staring at your computer screen. It can even let you get on with doing something else while you take in information from a document.

 

Not only does text-to-speech software allow you to listen to existing documents, but it can also help when you are typing documents of your own.

 

With tools such as spell-checking and word prediction, text-to-speech programs offer many of the types of assistance that you would find in regular word-processing programs. Text-to-speech can also be set to spot things like homophones. These are words that are pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning or spelling – like two, too, and to. Plus, the addition of having your words read back to you can really help with matters like punctuation.

 

Text-to-speech software generally uses a toolbar at the top of the screen, including buttons like play and stop, making them clear and easy to use.

 

The speech can either be set to work with every word you type or, alternatively, it can read back entire sentences when you type a full-stop.  Great for proof-reading, you can even download the text as an MP3 file to listen to later. You can even pick between a variety of voices and accents so that you can find one you like!

 

Using text-to-speech software can greatly improve the speed and accuracy of not just your reading but also writing your own reports for work, college assignments, and more.

 

Generally-speaking, text-to-speech software comes in three different varieties. Firstly, the is ‘universal’ software, which can be used on any existing program. The second type comes as an add-on to an existing program, like word. Finally, there are stand-alone software programs, which are often free and come with their own dedicated word-processing systems, although these may include additional upgrades which can be bought.

 

Understanding Dyslexia

While a lot of people have heard of dyslexia, it seems that not so many actually know what it is or how it affects those who have the condition. Some people believe that those with dyslexia see things like words differently – that they are unable to read letters as they appear backwards or altered in some other way.

Continue reading Understanding Dyslexia