How to Improve Outcomes for Students with a Dyslexia Diagnosis

A female student sitting next to her tutor in a classroom, holding an orange highlighter pen and looking down at her work.

If a student gets a dyslexia diagnosis before they go to college or university, they should expect to get support. But faculty do need to know how to help them in the right way. Under the Equality Act 2010, all higher education institutions must make reasonable adjustments for students with a confirmed dyslexia diagnosis. But also, many students enrol in a course before they’ve received a dyslexia diagnosis. 

To help you consider the best ways to support students with dyslexia, we’ve compiled this article with information and advice. 

Many Students Don’t Get a Dyslexia Diagnosis

The British Dyslexia Association suggests one in ten people in the UK has dyslexia, yet only four percent of students in HE have a confirmed SpLD. Lack of disclosure is often a challenge, but so is a lack of diagnosis. And undiagnosed dyslexia can have a big impact on a student’s self-esteem and academic performance. 

According to a recent report, up to 80% of students leave school without a dyslexia diagnosis or support they need. And this makes identifying dyslexia at an early stage vital to a student’s success. On top of this, many students are reluctant to disclose their diagnosis for fear of judgement or that it could isolate them from others.

What are the Potential Characteristics of a Student with Dyslexia?

The British Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a “learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling”. But since everyone’s brain is different, it’s not easy to determine a fixed or specific set of indicators. 

Instead, we can highlight some of the characteristics that people with dyslexia sometimes show:

  • A preference for visual perception and a visual learning style.
  • Difficulty remembering what they’re told or finding verbal processing speeds difficult.
  • Often better at manipulating scientific concepts than others.
  • Can get confused with letter and number recognition.
  • May not have awareness of phonics (i.e. matching word sounds with how they’re written).
  • Could show more perseverance than others, having worked harder to overcome dyslexia.
  • May display low self-esteem or try to conceal their difficulties.

Steps You Can Take to Boost Outcomes for Students with Dyslexia

So what can you do as a faculty member to support students and make the necessary reasonable adjustments to improve their chances of success?  

Have the Correct Diagnostic Assessments in Place

Universities can support students to get a diagnosis by requesting a diagnostic assessment from a BDA approved assessor. An Educational Psychologist can also carry this out if they have Approved Teacher Status on the Health and Care Professions Council register. They may specialise in post-16 assessment for Dyslexia, for example. Or it can be someone holding an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) for SpLD. Universities should have clear policies on assessment costs and how much they expect students to contribute.

Help Them to Apply for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

The Disability Discrimination Act includes dyslexia as a defined disability. And students can apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) through their student funding body. It’s recommended that students apply as soon as they have their places. So, ideally, a student will be proactive in getting a diagnosis before they enrol and ensure they receive the necessary financial support. 

The DSA awarding process involves a needs assessment and a set of interviews at an access centre. And this is where students can discuss and review the impact of their diagnosis on their studies. This helps to inform which reasonable adjustments will be necessary, like installing Caption.Ed’s speech-to-text software.

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Make Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments can vary but should apply to each student’s needs: 

  • Give students with dyslexia extra time to read through materials but also listen and digest information. They can also boost comprehension by discussing and reviewing what they’ve learned. 
  • Offer alternatives to writing.
  • Handouts in dyslexia-friendly formats such as Arial. 
  • Option to filter onscreen format options, e.g. Caption.Ed enables students to customise word formats and add colour to their screens.
  • Use of assistive technology during exams that includes coloured filters or overlays. 
  • Specialist one-to-one tutoring support, such as autism mentoring.

Optimise the Use of Assistive Technology such as Caption.Ed

Caption.Ed is a key piece of assistive tech for HE institutions that will support students with dyslexia, and other SpLD students, in specific ways. Improving grammar, spelling, and working memory to name a few. But also, Caption.Ed will support students who find it difficult to identify speech sounds

Students with dyslexia often have trouble decoding words. And this decoding is where some may find it more challenging to match how a word looks with how it sounds phonetically. For example, understanding that the letters ‘ch’ in the word ‘rich’ sound the same as the word ‘itch’ could be difficult for some. So when students have a chance to both read captions on the screen and hear how they sound during live lectures, it can speed up their understanding.

Help Students with Dyslexia to Get an Assessment for Caption.Ed

Students with a dyslexia diagnosis should expect their HE institutions to make reasonable adjustments to support their studies. And, as highlighted, the extent of this support will depend on the specific problems a student may face. Faculty can use different methods and strategies to help, including a phonics-based approach that breaks down words to enhance understanding. 

Adding real-time captions to all live lectures and pre-recorded media is easy to do with Caption.Ed. And it works across all platforms including Panopto, Echo360, Zoom and YouTube. Students with dyslexia can customise their Caption.Ed screen too, adjusting the colour and font size to suit their needs. 

With our state-of-the-art assistive technology at hand, students with a dyslexia diagnosis can use Caption.Ed to get deeper engagement with their studies.  And since Caption.Ed is recommended within the Disability Student’s Allowance, we recommend you contact our team today to discuss how best you can use it to support students with dyslexia.

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