Friday, July 30, 2010

What to teach your children about Body Language

It is every parent's responsibility to socialise their children, that includes teaching them about our primary means of communication which is body language.

Essential for interpersonal and business success, body language should be taught to children at an early age so that they can mature with a skill set that will enrich their personal and working lives.

Start to teach your children about body language as soon as they are capable of understanding your instruction (around age 2) and build from there.

Use a good reference guide so that the children can see the behaviour and you can both talk about it. Also make sure that the guide you use is based on science and not on anecdotal information.

There are 10 things you can teach your child to help them develop social and interpersonal intelligence that will help them throughout their lives:
  1. All nonverbal communication (body language) has meaning. Some you may not understand, nonetheless, it has meaning. In time I and your friends will teach you what different things mean.
  2. Your brain controls all your physical movements as well as all the faces and gestures you make. You have control over your body and the kinds of messages that your body sends out. You need to be mindful of this in the same way that you have to watch what you say.
  3. Your body language communicates all the emotions you feel, just as a baby communicates whether she is happy or not. It is evident for everyone to see. When you are happy and excited we can all see this by your smile, happy feet, and outstretched arms.
  4. What your body says to me is more accurate than what you say and it speaks to me before you do. So always be aware that often we can tell what you are thinking or feeling before you speak.
  5. You can get along better with friends if you read their body language because you'll be able to tell if they are happy or sad, mad or playful, quiet or excited. If you learn to read the body language of your friends, they will find great comfort in you because you care to know how they feel.
  6. Just like words can hurt someone’s feelings, body language can do the same thing. When you roll your eyes at me or turn your back and walk away, it says, just as if you had shouted it, that you don’t care and don’t respect me.
  7. You can use body language to let others know that you like them and care for them, without ever having to say a word. Just like when you hug me or hold my hand, I can tell you love me without having to say it.
  8. When you want something, desire something, or seek something, your body speaks this very clearly. In the same way that when you want to leave or avoid someone, your body tells me how you feel. Your intentions are communicated by your body language also.
  9. Some people are very sensitive to their body space and so when you get too close or sit too close they feel uncomfortable. Be aware that sometimes other children or adults need just a little bit more space.
  10. If your own body ever feels uncomfortable around someone, please let me know when it happens so I can help you to understand why it is that you feel that way. And know this, because I know your brain is sensitive to your body, I will respect whatever it is that you feel when you say, “I don’t feel comfortable, especially when it is around someone else.”

For additional information check out the Psychology Today posts on the subject, under the author's nom de plume Spycatcher. Additional information and training programs are available at

Dyslexia: What's New with Dragon Software Naturally Speaking?


From improved accuracy and faster performance, to an intuitive user interface with a rich Help system, powerful new voice commands, and an enhanced correction and adaptation process, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 has been redesigned to be FASTER, BETTER and SIMPLY SMARTER.

The Dragon user interface now offers better usability, and includes a new Sidebar showing tips as well as many commands. It’s now easier to discover, remember, and access important Dragon features and options.

New Recognition Analytics continuously monitor audio quality and alert users when there is an audio issue, to help them achieve their best accuracy. More than ever, Dragon 11 enables users to focus on their thoughts and ideas rather than the mouse, keyboard or computer screen.

Dragon 11 is more accurate out of the box than version 10, and uses state-of-the-art technology. Thanks to improvements at various levels, corrections are faster to make, and quickly become less necessary.

Version 11 “learns” better than any previous version, including from existing documents and dictations as well as from corrections made via the keyboard. Dragon 11 responds faster to voice commands and also introduces new time-saving commands that consolidate multiple mouse clicks and keystrokes.

It’s faster and easier to open applications, get to a particular window, move within a window, send e-mail, create appointments, search the Web, and more – all by voice. So now users can get even more done faster on their computers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dyslexia: Planning for Success

Click on the Picture to see the video!

This is a very interesting video but it is accompanied by extremely annoying and un-necessary music.

Touch, Type, Read and Spell (TTRS)

Touch, Type, Read and Spell (TTRS), is a multi-sensory computer based learning course for people with reading, writing and spelling difficulties, dyslexia or other learning differences.

The program was developed in the United Kingdom in 1992 as a way to develop literacy skills, confidence, self-esteem and motivation in those struggling with their reading and writing skills.

It is a language re-education program geared to dyslexic students and learners with specific learning disabilities or reading struggles.

This means that you don't have to be dyslexic to benefit from this program. If dyslexia is not diagnosed early, the child gets grouped into a general 'learning difficulties' area where the child is not being properly assisted.

Unfortunately some children are wrongly tagged as having an ADHD; the child can't focus or CAPD, which is a central auditory processing disorder; the child is not hearing things properly and therefore is not fully understanding what is intended.

The most difficult challenge faced in helping families is that even when properly diagnosed, dyslexia can be a very difficult condition to work with and overcome.

Dyslexia simply means having trouble with words. These words can be spoken, words written, words anything that has to do with language.

The other issue you face is that no two dyslexics, just like no two people, are the same in how it manifests itself. Like all conditions, it can be anywhere from mild to severe.

It is easy to package and dismiss the condition as a child who struggles to read, and then the teachers are left to help the child struggle through their issues.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple dyslexia affects more than just their ability to hear a word, spell, read. Some students are very skilled in other areas e.g. maths, but when it comes to word issues, they have terrible issue.

They get identified as having special needs and therefore they can access certain services through the school system, but although, throughout this process the child is 'supported' by the school system, it does not necessarily teach the child to read.

Failing to teach a child to read is something that will rob individuals and the wider community, of a brilliant future.

To be a successful, functioning adult in this modern world, the child has to be able to read. If you don't diagnose dyslexia for what it is, you deny that child the opportunity to learn to read and if you can teach a child to read, you have given them the world.

As with the general population, Dyslexic children possess good intelligence, some are even above average intelligence but dyslexia can also bring other strengths. Some of those strengths are wonderful visual, spatial abilities, the ability to see or think outside the box.

They can be very are artistic, creative, athletic, analytical. The bottom line is we have no idea the kind of world this will be in five, 10, 15, 20 years, but we are suppose to be educating our children for it.

Now if we aren't accommodating the ones who are struggling, the very ones who have that ability to think outside the box, to come up with solutions, to see things in a different way, we are doing our world, our generation, our society, a disservice by pushing them aside and making them think that because they can't read well, they are stupid and not wanted on the voyage.

Convincing a person with dyslexia that they aren't stupid is something that takes time because quite often they have been surrounded by frustration on many fronts but it is something that needs to be done.

The TTRS program claims to do more than give individuals good keyboarding skills. Using the multi-sensory approach, TTRS is said to work because it makes things simple for the dyslexic learner. Anything that makes things simpler must be good, right.

TTRS claim that your fingers are trained to go where the letters are. So as you think the words, the fingers automatically know where to go; they know how to spell the word; you remove that fear of spelling the word correctly and whether they can get their thoughts out.

The argument goes, that if you train them to think, and type the way they think, they have more success in getting their thoughts on paper.

User of this sytem claim that it is geared to the dyslexic learner, it lays everything out in a very specific order. So without them realising it, they are learning to read, and spell, while building their keyboard skills and their speed.

Well, you need to try it for yourself. If it is so simple and it is such a great keyboarding program, then it should help children and students who struggle to read.

Let me know how you find this system and I am always interested to hear your comments. For more information on TTRS, also visit

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

History of Reading Instruction

Phonics and the History of Reading Instruction

Learning to read is not a natural process. As Mitford Mathews said, “Words are not like tadpoles or flowers or horses. Words are man-made...” There is a certain amount of drudgery inherent in learning to read.

Through the years, there have been a number of changes made in the systems for teaching reading in an attempt to make learning to read easier. A short history of reading instruction by Geraldine Rodgers called "
Why Noah Webster's Way Was the Right Way" can be found on Don Potter's Education Page.

As she says in this essay,
"Teaching the reading of alphabetic print by its "sound" is the correct way. Teaching the reading of alphabetic print by its “meaning" is the incorrect way. Obviously, if “sound” and “meaning” methods for the teaching of alphabetic print are mixed, then the mixture is incorrect in direct proportion to the emphasis given to the “meaning” method."

The history of reading instruction is, to some degree, the history of pendulum swings between these two approaches. Unfortunately, only one approach, the "sound" method, produces a capable reader.

The author focuses on the history of reading instruction in the English language. Completely regular phonetic languages like Latin and Spanish do not suffer from the meaning/sound divide.

Those interested in how our language came to be should read "The Alphabet Effect" by Robert Logan. An examination of the research in favor of phonics can be found in Dr. Patrick Groff's "Preventing Reading Failure."

Those interested in a complete history of reading instruction should read "The History of Beginning Reading" by Geraldine E. Rodgers (available at in 3 volumes or in e-book format at Author House.)

Those who are interested in reading the complete article should click on this link: Phonics and the History of Reading Instruction

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How language changes the way we see the world

Do English, Indonesian, Russian and Turkish speakers end up attending to, understanding, and remembering their experiences differently simply because they speak different languages?

These questions touch on all the major controversies in the study of mind, with important implications for politics, law and religion. Yet very little empirical work had been done on these questions until recently.

The idea that language might shape thought was for a long time considered untestable at best and more often simply crazy and wrong. Now, a flurry of new cognitive science research is showing that in fact, language does profoundly influence how we see the world.

The question of whether languages shape the way we think goes back centuries; Charlemagne proclaimed that "to have a second language is to have a second soul." But the idea went out of favor with scientists when Noam Chomsky's theories of language gained popularity in the 1960s and '70s.

Dr. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages—essentially, that languages don't really differ from one another in significant ways. And because languages didn't differ from one another, the theory went, it made no sense to ask whether linguistic differences led to differences in thinking.

The search for linguistic universals yielded interesting data on languages, but after decades of work, not a single proposed universal has withstood scrutiny.

Instead, as linguists probed deeper into the world's languages (7,000 or so, only a fraction of them analyzed), innumerable unpredictable differences emerged.

Of course, just because people talk differently doesn't necessarily mean they think differently. In the past decade, cognitive scientists have begun to measure not just how people talk, but also how they think, asking whether our understanding of even such fundamental domains of experience as space, time and causality could be constructed by language.

Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.

Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.

The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favour of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.

In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why?

In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase
broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

To read the full article got to this link The Wall Street Journal

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dyslexia - Get Ready to Read!

Get Ready to Read! is a 10 minute, 20 question, screening tool to help identify if your 4 year old children need help with the foundational language skills required to become good readers.

Children who are vulnerable can receive small group preventative instruction in letter recognition, letter-sound correspondences, rhyming, and segmenting and blending sounds.

Even brief daily interventions by volunteers with minimal training appear to result in substantial growth in language skills.

Speech and language therapists can be very adept at helping to remediate language delays in one to one or small group sessions.

The tool is designed to screen a child twice during the year before kindergarten. Use the tool first in the Fall or Autumn, one year before the child enters kindergarten, and again the next year or Fall, just before kindergarten begins, to measure the child's progress.

Don't use the tool more than three times in a year. It's not designed to measure small changes, and children develop new skills gradually.

Are Reading and other Learning Disabilities Preventable? | Reading & Other Learning Disabilities

Are Reading and Other Learning Disabilities Preventable?

Perhaps you had this experience: You approached your child’s school about your kindergarten age child, expressing concern that he or she may have a learning disability. While sympathetic, your school’s psychologist, reading specialist, or other diagnostic expert responded that learning disabilities cannot be diagnosed until a child has been unable to succeed academically despite conscientious instruction.

Several years later, you attended a meeting with your school’s multi-disciplinary team who explained that your child indeed does have a learning disability. Your emotions felt chaotic – a mixture of relief, worry, sorrow – and perhaps frustration or even anger that years had passed since you recognised that your child’s development was not typical, but rather different from his peers in subtle yet important ways.

It is a fact that learning disabilities cannot be 'positively' diagnosed in early childhood. Unlike severe developmental disabilities, learning disabilities are mild neurocognitive deficits that cannot be easily distinguished from the broad range of typical early childhood development.

However, it is also a fact that it is possible to identify children with 'increased risk' of developing learning disabilities in the future, e.g. as elementary school students.

Children with 'increased risk' of learning disabilities frequently share one or more of these characteristics:

  • A mother, father, sister or brother with an Autistic Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, or Learning Disability
  • Low birth weight, defined as a weight less than 2500 grams or 5.5 pounds
  • Delayed speech—failure to combine two or more words into short phrases by 24 months of age
  • A diagnosis of ADHD

These risk factors are associated with increased risk of learning disabilities because many learning disabilities are the result of a developmental trajectory that starts before birth, and continues through adulthood.

As preschoolers, children at 'increased risk' have trouble:

  • Rhyming
  • “Reading”—really recognising—signs like Coke, McDonalds and other frequently occurring printed words
  • Recognising parts of books such as the cover, title
  • Recognising letters of his or her own name
  • Quickly retrieving words, measured by asking a child to rapidly name a category such as “animals”

If we know this then 'What about prevention?'

Many of the home-based interventions that can reduce the risk of learning disabilities, especially reading disabilities, are parenting habits that apply to all children.

The common element of all home—based interventions is the systematic exposure of children to rich, engaging, and expressive language. The best example of this is shared reading.

'Shared Reading', is when parents read to their children, and through this activity, books take on an added dimension of parental love and affection. Children hear models of reading that are more accurate and more advanced than their own.

They begin to associate letters with sounds and words with meaning. Using books with predictable rhyme patterns and simple rhythms, such as the Dr. Seuss books, teaches the acceptable and common sound system of our language.

Old fashioned entertainment, based on interaction between adults and children rather than video, fulfills a similar purpose. Telling stories about family history, sharing folk tales you learned as a child, playing word games such as 20-questions or I-Spy are ways parents teach their preschool “language apprentices.”

Apprentices need teachers who listen well and listen patiently, and who can demonstrate good conversational skills such as taking turns speaking without interrupting.

Helping children to play creatively, with other children, and with their imaginations is the oldest form of language and social skill training.


In summary, while diagnosis of learning disabilities is not possible at young ages, parents, schools, healthcare professionals and others can be very attuned to delays in language development that confer increased risk for learning disabilities.

In addition, adults can focus particular attention to Low-Birth-Weight children, and children who were not talking by their second birthday, viewing them as especially vulnerable and needing developmental assessment.

Parents, schools and speech and language therapists can team-up to help reduce the potential risk of learning disabilities.

Autism has unique vocal signature, new technology reveals

Autism has unique vocal signature, new technology reveals

The LENA™ (Language Environment Analysis) system automatically labeled infant and child vocalisations from recordings and thereafter an automatic acoustic analysis designed by the researchers showed that pre-verbal vocalisations of very young children with autism are distinctly different from those of typically developing children with 86 percent accuracy.

The system also differentiated typically developing children and children with autism from children with language delay based on the automated vocal analysis.

The researchers analysed 1,486 all-day recordings from 232 children (or more than 3.1 million automatically identified child utterances) through an algorithm based on the 12 acoustic parameters associated with vocal development.

The most important of these parameters proved to be the ones targeting syllabification, the ability of children to produce well-formed syllables with rapid movements of the jaw and tongue during vocalisation. Infants show voluntary control of syllabification and voice in the first months of life and refine this skill as they acquire language.

The autistic sample showed little evidence of development on the parameters as indicated by low correlations between the parameter values and the children's ages (from 1 to 4 years).

On the other hand, all 12 parameters showed statistically significant development for both typically developing children and those with language delays.

The research team, led by D. Kimbrough Oller, professor and chair of excellence in audiology and speech language pathology at the University of Memphis, called the findings a proof of concept that automated analysis of massive samples of vocalisations can now be included in the scientific repertoire for research on vocal development.

LENA, which allow the inexpensive collection and analysis of magnitudes of data unimagined in language research before now, could significantly impact the screening, assessment and treatment of autism and the behavioral sciences in general.

Since the analysis is not based on words, but rather on sound patterns, the technology theoretically could potentially be used to screen speakers of any language for autism spectrum disorders, Warren said. "The physics of human speech are the same in all people as far as we know."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Horse Boy Trailer - Working with Autism using animals

The Horse Boy does more than chronicle Rowan and his parents' journey across the vast, wild landscape of Mongolia. It delves into the strange world of autism itself, the relationship between humans and animals and between different cultures and different ways of being (autistic vs. normal, or "neuro-typical"), and the nature of healing. But above all, The Horse Boy tells the story of a couple that goes to the end of the earth to find a way into their son's life.

Gillian Naysmith has been asked by Author/Director, Rupert Isaacson to screen his movie 'The Horse Boy' about his Autistic Son, Rowan and his incredible relationship with horses and the families amazing adventure, as a fundraising event to raise funds for his new charity The Horse Boy Foundation UK.

This charity will help fund places for families of Autistic children to attend Horse Boy Camps throughout the UK. Gillian went to the Scottish camp in January and says it was incredible. Details of her son's progress can be found on the news page the website -

Tickets to the film being shown at Bells Distillery, Pitlochry in Scotland on Wednesday 4th August at 7pm are £5.50 and are available by contacting Gillian on - or call 07934628326.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WordLogic Predictive Keyboard

WordLogic Predictive Keyboard

The patented WordLogic solution is used as typing software, an assistive technology, a research tool and an aid in language learning and instruction. It delivers predictive text solutions designed to accelerate the entry of text and information.

The software provides a text entry system and makes multiple typing suggestions based on built-in dictionaries. WordLogic’s software also adapts to the individual user by learning text that is frequently used by an individual user – such as words, phrases, names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

The software also incorporates dictionary, thesaurus, spellchecker, calculator, multi-lingual symbol capability and fast access to internet sites from common software applications. The software also incorporates the major internet search engines that enable a user to highlight a word, press the search key, and automatically initiate a search or retrieve the dictionary definition of the word online.

Watch a demo

Families and Dyslexia - Annabel Heseltine

Dyslexia4u's Blog

Dyslexia is genetic and present from birth; if someone in a family is dyslexic there is a 40-60 per cent chance that their children will also have dyslexia. Dyslexia is very individualistic with a number of different indicators, strengths and difficulties. It can therefore be extra stressful for parents with children who have differing support needs with in the one family.

Annabel Heseltine, daughter of Michael, recent article in The Telegraph explains the multi layers of dyslexia in a family context. The article talks of the differing educational needs of her children and how her father and brother have over come their own difficulties with dyslexia and capitalised on their strengths to be successful.

It is a useful insight into a family that Annabel says is “riddled with dyslexia” and hopefully it will be helpful to parents who are in similar circumstances.

Three of Annabel Heseltine’s children shared a problem with their famous grandfather: dyslexia. How best to deal with it? By Annabel Heseltine.

Asperger's and The Characteristics That Are Seen in an ASD Child

Asperger's and The Characteristics That Are Seen in an ASD Child

Parents with children who are on the Autism Spectrum or who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome can benefit from knowing the traits and characteristics of someone who has Asperger’s. Knowing this information can better help someone communicate and find outside recourses that will benefit not only the family but the Asperie person himself to a better and more fulfilling life.

These Characteristics or Traits are:

* Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions.
* Impairments in Language Skills.
* Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines.
* Motor Clumsiness.
* Cognitive Issues.
* Sensory Sensitivities.

Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions

* They to not understand the give and take in a conversation.
* They talk about a subject that perhaps only interests them. Examples would be to talk excessively about trains, volcanoes, or the Bermuda Triangle, etc.
* They do not perceive or understand the verbal cues of a conversation, such as facial expressions and body language.
* They do not perceive or comprehend that conversation includes things like eye contact, taking turns, talking about what others are talking about, and responding in kind.

Impairments in Language Skills

* They see language as a way of sharing facts and interests not of sharing interests, feelings, and emotions.
* Some Asperger’s children have what they call a problem with “prosody.” This means that a child with Asperger’s may have a problem with the way speech is spoken. His stress and rhythm, or melody of speech may be impaired.
* Some children with this disability have a problem with understanding spoken words that have a different meaning. They take things literally.

Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines

* Because change causes anxiety an Asperger’s child will want to live by rigid rules. They want things to go the same way day after day. A change in school routine can cause major stress.
* They tend to only hold on to a few interests but those interests are very important and may help them alleviate anxiety.
* Asperger’s children have their own rules and have a very difficult time understanding why society has their own rules. They have their own rules they can want to be the “king” or “ruler.”

Motor Clumsiness

* Asperger’s children have a problem with both fine and motor skills.
* Problems can show themselves in handwriting, playing ball, and riding a bike.
* Throwing a ball, swinging a bat, balancing on a bike, or holding a pencil can be difficult and frustrating for an Asperie (short for Asperger’s person).

Cognitive Issues

* At the heart of many of the issues that Asperger’s person has is the inability to understand the inferences or the logical facts or premises that others make.
* They have difficulty with empathy.
* Say things without considering the other persons feelings.
* Think everyone thinks like they do.
* Think in black and white.
* They are rigid in their thinking and think everyone should do it their way.

Sensory Sensitivities

* Sensory problems are common. Asperger’s children can have difficulty in any sensory area. This includes; sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
* An Asperie can be over or under sensitive in any of these sensory areas.
* With sensory issues it is important to learn if the problem is a learned behavior or a product of his or her anxiety.

Of course these are the negative sides of ASD and there are some very positive sides to ASD children, which I would like to describe in a later article.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Way of Presenting Information - Prezi

Friday, July 16, 2010

Karina Richland - Summer reading Loss

School is finally out and now is the time for splashing in the pool, running in the yard, playing at the park and relaxing with friends. Summer is also the time to catch up and get ahead in crucial reading skills that might be lacking during the school year. Children who read during the summer months gain reading skills, while those who do not often experience learning losses.

Research has shown that the few months of loss in reading skills over the summer months compounds over the years; by the time children reach middle school, those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.
Trying to balance the busy, physical activities that the warm summer weather brings with quiet reading time daily is not an easy task for most parents. Some children welcome the idea of reading books during the summer months, while others, particularly weak or reluctant readers, will find this a tedious chore.

The good news is that if children read just six books over summer vacation, they will likely avoid summer reading loss! Try some of these tips to make sure your child’s summer reading goes smoothly:

Set aside a consistent time each day for reading. Summer camps, play dates, and videos are all fun things kids like to do during the summer. However, by the end of the day, children may be too tired to pick up a book and read. When planning summer time activities for your child, remember to leave some time in their schedules for reading. Find a convenient time each day – before bedtime or over breakfast.

Help your child select books at a comfortable level. If you are having trouble judging, consult your local librarian who is likely to be an expert in matching books to reading levels. Another great source is the Lexile Framework for Reading. This website will give you a Lexile Measure from a reading test. You can then look up books according to your child’s lexile measure. The website is: If your child makes 5 or more errors in reading a page of around 50 words – the book is too challenging.

Become a reader yourself and lead by example! Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor’s office, and take a book to the beach or on your family picnics. If kids see adults around them reading often, they will understand that reading can be a fun and important part of their summer days.

Read about your vacation destination before you go. Have your child read about your travel spots ahead of time and help plan the trip for you. If you go camping, explore the wildlife and scenery on-line.

Read a book that is now a movie, and then take them to see the movie!

Make sure to bring books on vacation, outings and errands to keep your children occupied and entertained with great stories. Pack books in your beach bag and picnic baskets instead of electronic game devices.

Connect books with activities! Read a story that mentions something yummy to eat and then try out a recipe at home. Try some exotic foods from stories from other countries.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fonts and Dyslexia

Fonts and Dyslexia – an article from iansyst Ltd

Dyslexia can mean that a person has a sensitivity to particular typefaces, both in print and on screen. It is always good to understand a person's particular preferences and dislikes when it comes to font selection and this should be examined with each individual.

Whatever materials you are creating, it is good to consider whether they are going to be accessible to as broad an audience as possible.

Many dyslexic and non-dyslexic people find that the readability of a piece of text varies greatly depending upon the font (type face or type style) used.

Serif fonts, with their ‘ticks’ and ‘tails’ at the end of most strokes (as found in traditional print fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman), tend to obscure the shapes of letters, so sans-serif fonts are generally preferred.

Many dyslexic people also find it easier to read a font that looks similar to hand writing as they are familiar with this style, and some teachers prefer them. However these types of fonts can lead to confusion with some letter combinations, such as “oa” and “oo”; “rn” and “m”.

The size of the ascenders and descenders of letters (the ‘stems’ on letters like p and b) is also important as many dyslexic readers rely on recalling the visual shape of a word due to poor phonological awareness.

If ascenders and descenders are too short the shape of the word is more difficult to identify and can make reading slower and less accurate.

Read Regular - Font
Recently Natascha Frensch, a graphic designer at the Royal College of Art, has designed a font (Read Regular) specifically for dyslexic readers, taking into account the issues discussed above.
There are examples of Read Regular on her web site at and the children’s publisher Chrysalis is now using it for two-thirds of the 150 children’s titles it brings out every year.

Lexia Readable
Has also been designed specifically for dyslexia and is actually available. You can download it from free for individual use. It has developed quite a bit over the last few months, although it still has some minor irregularities.

It tries to avoid some possible dyslexic confusions (eg b-d) by using different shapes, and is broadly based on Comic Sans, see below. Please let us know what you think of it.

This font has been designed for people with Visual Impairment. Originally produced for subtitles and signs there is now a screen version Tiresias PC font. Tiresias is now free to download. It is good for legibility, but doesn’t address the issue of dyslexic confusions.

The font Sassoon, is often recommended for dyslexia, but was actually designed to assist children in early reading. Also, it is quite expensive and can be bought through Adrian Williams Design and elsewhere on the web.

Letter shapes are similar to those that schools use to teach handwriting, and ascenders and descenders are exaggerated to emphasise word shapes.

Myriad Pro
Myriad pro was designed by Adobe and it has a clean sans serif aesthetic making it suitable for people with dyslexia.

Web based Fonts
Verdana is a very popular and clear font used by many on websites but arguably better is Trebuchet MS. It has short descenders but reasonably long ascenders, a small body size and generous line spacing. We find this font suits many readers both dyslexic and non-dyslexic.

Write Friendly Text

To test your sensitivity to these fonts, choose one from the ones suggetsed, print out some text in 12 points and check them out for yourself. You can also ask your friends and family about their choices and preferences.

Apart from the font selection, think carefully about colour and printing on coloured paper. There are a number of good and bad combinations that you should be awareof.

For more advice and guidance, follow the advice in the BDA’s Dyslexia Friendly Style Guide and we wish you more friendly writing for the future!

For more information on Fonts and Typefaces check out my Copy writing block post on the subject.

Dutch home-based pre-reading intervention with children at familial risk of dyslexia

Dutch home-based pre-reading intervention with children at familial risk of dyslexia

A research team investigation of children (5 and 6 years old, n = 30) at familial risk of dyslexia who received a home-based intervention that focused on phoneme awareness and letter knowledge in the year prior to formal reading instruction.

The children were compared to a no-training at-risk control group (n = 27), which was selected a year earlier. After training, we found a small effect on a composite score of phoneme awareness (d = 0.29) and a large effect on receptive letter knowledge (d = 0.88).

In first grade, however, this did not result in beneficial effects for the experimental group in word reading and spelling. Results are compared to three former intervention studies in The Netherlands and comparable studies from Denmark and Australia.

Monday, July 5, 2010

UK Inquiry into disability-related harassment

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is undertaking an inquiry into disability-related harassment and how well this is currently being addressed by public authorities. Some people use the word bullying when they are talking about harassment.

We want to hear from anyone who has been bullied or harassed and from organisations that work for/with disabled people, including voluntary and community sector organisations, public authorities (such as local councils, police, housing, social services and education) and public transport operators.

Watch this clip that explains some of the issues relating to this inquiry.

Dyslexia Assistive Technology Delivers Writing Independence To Children

Dyslexia Assistive Technology Delivers Writing Independence To Children And Adul by Ghotit Ltd

Israel Ghotit, a leading provider of text correction technology has released its new and improved spelling and grammar checker. Ghotit targets people who can't spell close enough for traditional spell checkers to provide value.

Millions of people around the world do not find regular spell and grammar checkers effective. These people include people with dyslexia (about 17% of the world population),English Language Learners ELL, English as Second Language ESL and millions of other people that the reasons for their problems were never diagnosed.

Ghotit leverages its Intelligent Context Correction (ICC) patent-pending technology to correct heavily misspelled words and misused words - words that are spelled correctly but are out- of-context of the sentence being written.

Ghotit has recently leveraged its ICC technology to correct grammar errors uncorrectable by regular spell checkers. In addition, Ghotit has completely re-designed its Microsoft add-in to simplify the correction process and integrate value added services such as Text-to-Speech, Dictionary, and Search services.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Transitioning Teenagers into Further Reading - The Dutch View

I have just spent some time with Manu Hartsuyker, a freelance film producer and director in the Netherlands. She is not only a great documentary maker, but has also given herself over to helping others, both here in Europe and in Africa, South East Asia, etc.

Along with others, she has established a local initiative and supportive effort to transition young adults and teenagers into further reading and to promote reading as a pleasureable activity in young adults. Something I am very interested in and I know you will be too.

Clearly there is a lot of competition and distractions out there for teenagers, more than there has ever been. Things that capture the imagination of children and young adults are many-fold. The primary two are TV and video games, with puberty and match-making running a close third.

I would not like to say where reading and the exploration of the world and the human condition comes in, especially through the written word and story telling, but I suspect it is quite far down in the top 10 of teenager activities.

From Manu's perspective it is fortunate that in the Netherlands, the government and authorities are so enlightened. They encourage the establishment of charitable initiatives and the efforts of volunteers, giving freely of their own time, to help support others in whatever way they can.

The NL government does this by allowing the group to set themselves up under a charity status and is therefore outside the normal taxation burden of a small company or similar organisation. But the group is covered by this protection only for a limited time, 3 - 5 years.

Alas, Manu's group is coming to the end of this period and is now exploring ways of encouraging donations and sponsorship to allow them to continue thier work. Currently they are gathering ideas and suggestions that will help them continue and I believe they should be encouraged.

If you have any suggestions as to how the group can do this or things you have tried that have worked for your group, please send me a comment on my blog or go directly to Manu's website - - where you will be able to find more information.

Please be aware that the website is still being worked on and is occasionally off-line. If this is a problem for you then please contact me here and I will pass your message on or arrange for Manu to contact you.

Thank you for your time and any suggestions you may have.

New Online Resource to help Teachers assess Dyslexia

Sir Jackie Stewart

A groundbreaking online resource – the ‘Assessing Dyslexia’ toolkit – has been launched by motoring legend Sir Jackie Stewart.

The toolkit, produced by a specialist working group managed by Dyslexia Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government, aims to help all teachers and early years workers across Scotland to identify literacy difficulties and dyslexia.

Click here to read the full article

The World of Dyslexia: July Newsletter

Click on the picture or on this link to view the full newsletter