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Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017

This past week - October 2nd to 6th - was Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017. This week has not only been about awareness, but also about understanding the experience of people with Dyslexia, as not only being one of challenge but of success as well.

  • Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017

Dyslexia remains the most common learning difficulty on the planet and encompasses a wide range of challenges. Not everyone experiences it in the same way, and not everyone with Dyslexia finds reading difficult and unenjoyable. It is not a disease, and it is not curable. It is an everyday challenge and one that people with Dyslexia overcome every day.

One of the most common challenges for people with Dyslexia is decoding: recognising word sounds (phonemes). To highlight this difficulty, this year, we introduced the Decoding Challenge! In this lunchtime activity, we set up laptops displaying an article where the letters were continuously scrambled using the Dyslexia Bookmarklet. Students then had to read this text as quickly as they could and with as few mistakes as possible.

Student engagement in this event was excellent and, in the end, the top time was exactly two minutes. It is worth noting, however, that the passage being read was about 300 words, and the average reading speed is around 200 words per minute, but can exceed 600 words per minute for some. This highlights the impact a difficulty with decoding can have on the reader in terms of speed and accuracy.

For the average student, the movement of the text confused recognised word sounds and made decoding much more difficult.  Many students, when asked for their reflection after completing the challenge, commented that decoding the text, at times, was very difficult to nearly impossible. Meanwhile, due to their lifelong experience in decoding difficult text, a Dyslexic student will typically do better on such a challenge than a student without Dyslexia. In this way, the activity also demonstrated how Dyslexia can also be a source of strength.

This week, students also participated in a number of activities during form time to raise awareness about Dyslexia. Looking at the strengths of Dyslexia was one of the topics that students covered through these activities. Being Dyslexic actually has been shown to enhance the ability to problem solve and think outside the box; real world skills that have led to the success of many well-known individuals with Dyslexia. In essence, the challenges of Dyslexia has led many to succeed.

Thank you to all those who contributed to making this week possible; the Graphics Department, Media, Marketing, the Events Committee, our Teachers, Senior Leadership, the LS Department, and all the students for getting involved and really making this week a success.

Ian Young, Head of Secondary Learning Support

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