Friday, August 13, 2010

Goodmans Smart Talk® TV set top box - RNIB Online Shop

Goodmans Smart Talk® TV set top box

This TV set top box announces all on-screen information, including programme guides and menus, using synthetic speech. Designed and developed in conjunction with RNIB to provide full access to Freeview® digital TV and radio services for blind and partially sighted people.

  • available to pre-order now and deliveries expected mid August 2010
  • fully talking Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
  • access programmes with audio description (AD). With Audio Description turned on, significant visual information such as scenery, action, facial expression and body language is described between dialogue. Please read our Audio Description pages or call 08456 01 01 81 for more information
  • talking menus enable you to customise all settings
  • easy-to-see menus and programme guides
  • ergonomic remote control with raised and well spaced buttons
  • remote control button presses are spoken to confirm your choice dedicated button to stop the speech once you have the information you need
  • easy to set up with your existing TV with the supplied SCART cable.
  • supplied with SCART cable, RF (aerial) cable, remote control, two AA batteries and mains adaptor.
  • Digital TV is not broadcast in all areas of the UK. You must carry out a Postcode check before purchasing this product to make sure digital TV is broadcast in your area. Please note: if you purchase a set top box and live in an area that the postcode checker states has no digital reception, you will not be able to return it to RNIB unless faulty

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Words | Open Culture

This conceptual little video keeps you thinking about words and their uses. Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante produced it to accompany a new Radiolab episode called quite simply “Words.” (Listen via MP3iTunes - Web Site)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to School Guide 2010: Best digital cameras for kids | ZDNet

Sakar International actually makes several digital cameras that are geared toward pre-schoolers — including a Dora the Explorer camera and a SpongeBob Squarepants camera that actually comes with a waterproof housing. But I prefer Sakar’s LeapFrog Click n’ Create Digital Camera because it offers higher resolution (2.1megapixels) and better image quality as well as a 1.5-inch preview LCD.

While preschoolers might gravitate toward the Dora and SpongeBob characters, the lack of an LCD on those cameras is a dealbreaker for me. The size of the LeapFrog camera is great for little hands, as are the rubberized grips that make the camera feel fairly sturdy, though it’s nowhere near as solidly built (or versatile) as the Vtech Kidizoom Plus, which sells for the same $50.

Though the Vtech camera (which I recommend for slightly older kids) is a much better value for the money, if you’re buying for a 2 or 3 year old, the LeapFrog camera will be easier to handle — both because it’s much simpler to use, and because of its more compact size. Tots will love that the camera says “great shot!” when you snap a photo and “bye-bye” when you turn it off, but parents will be grateful there’s an option to turn off the sound since there’s no volume control.

The camera comes with 8MB of built-in memory, so it can store roughly 100 photos depending on the resolution you choose. But because it’s SD RAM, you must download the images before you remove the batteries or you’ll lose all your shots. Bundled software includes LeapFrog brand games and basic photo editing software for use on a PC or Mac.

Experiencing Dyslexia videos: Has it changed your life

What is dyslexia & how do you know you're dyslexic?

Watch different experiences of dyslexia and other videos, here

Speeding driver uses dyslexia as an excuse

A British driver travelling at speeds as high as 165 km/h (103 mph) has used dyslexia as an excuse for his transgression. He claimed that he didn't realize how fast he was travelling because he couldn't understand his car's speedometer.

According to The Telegraph, Matthew Cook, 40, was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic on the A27 in East Sussex when another motorist called police. They clocked him at 165 km/h (103 mph) in a 96 km/h (60 mph) zone.

Witnesses said that Cook was driving while smoking a cigarette and gesturing at other vehicles as he zoomed by them.

Hove Crown Court prosecutor John Marsden Lynch reported that he told the police officer that “he did not understand the speed dial because he was suffering from dyslexia.”

Cook entered a guilty plea to dangerous driving and has been banned from driving for three years.

Deaf Mugger - Humour - Youtube video

Monday, August 9, 2010

Low-fibre western diets deter 'good bacteria'

WE ARE what we eat. If this applies to gut bacteria too, it could explain higher rates of allergies and other inflammatory diseases in rich nations.

So says Paolo Lionetti of the University of Florence, Italy, who compared the gut bacteria of children in Burkina Faso and Italy. The stools of the African children contained almost three times as many short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

SCFAs are generated by bugs associated with diets containing a very high proportion of vegetables and cereals.

SCFAs kill harmful gut bacteria such as salmonella and help protect against inflammation. Allergies are often the result of an excessive inflammatory response to otherwise harmless agents.

Breastfed infants in both countries had the same gut bacteria profiles, so diet rather than other environmental factors or genes seems to dictate which bacteria colonise the gut.

Glenn Gibson of the University of Reading, UK, says the results could pave the way for allergy treatments based on gut bacteria.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Web accessibility for cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties - Opera Developer Community


Web accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties is one of the most overlooked subtopics of general web accessibility, despite it affecting the largest numbers. A large part of it is that there are so many conditions to understand in this area (far more than say visual or hearing impairments) and a lack of educational information available for learning about it.

In this article we will cover a few of the problems users with cognitive disabilities may have that can affect their ability to use the Web, as well as the things that developers can do to alleviate these problems and things they should avoid. A lot of what is covered will be well known and common sense to many, but is here for completeness.

What are cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties?

As with any aspect of accessibility, here we are less interested in specific conditions than we are with how they impact a person’s ability to use a website. These conditions affect a web user’s ability to perform one or more mental tasks. This includes problems with:

  • reading text
  • memory
  • problem solving
  • keeping focused (attention span)
  • computation (for example calculations)
  • non-verbal learning (for example difficulty with written materials)

For example, let’s have a look at some basic personas:

  • Steve has problems processing text, particularly when words are spelt incorrectly or when sarcasm or metaphors are used (this is most likely dyslexia).
  • Alison has short-term memory problems with what she sees and hears. It is difficult for her to remember what she has already entered in long forms or previously read in articles split into multiple pages.
  • Jeremy has difficulty with problem solving. He struggles with unfamiliar circumstances, such as links to new places in a website or unclear form input error messages (this could be as a result of intellect, emotional or executive function impairments).
  • Emily finds it difficult to focus on tasks, particularly when a web page has moving adverts or multiple pop-up windows.
  • Thomas has problems with numbers; it can be difficult for him to estimate the total cost of items when buying online or to solve simple maths-based questions asked on some comment forms to prove he is not a spambot (this is most likely dyspraxia).
  • Kate can have problems associating a representation of an object with the object itself, such as associating a picture of an apple with a real apple. She finds it easier to understand audio information than written or pictorial content.

Users can sometimes have a combination of cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties, and they may also have physical disabilities. It is important to be aware of the range of conditions that might affect your users, but at the same time you must avoid strict categorisation as every person is unique in their abilities — it is rarely simple, and there really is no one size fits all solution. For example, someone who is in the autistic spectrum may have none of the issues listed, but as this spectrum is concerned with making human connections and communication, certain visual or written nuances that would be obvious even to someone with a severe learning difficulty that affected the processing of information may be missed by someone in this spectrum. And someone with severe ADHD (inattention and hyperactivity) can find any task way more frustrating than what is considered as normal.

Areas to consider

You may find it difficult to create a web site that is accessible to all users with cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties because of the range of issues you need to consider.

You might find that a solution for one user is a hindrance to another, for example images could potentially be a distraction to someone who prefers text, even though combining content types is your best hope for universal accessibility. If you have a specific target group you can tailor content for that group, otherwise you have to tailor content for different information representations for different groups.

By following some simple guidelines you will be able to make your content available to as wide an audience as possible. A lot of this is fairly general web design best practices, but that’s what enables a lot of accessibility! Framing them in the context of cognitive disability should give you a better understand of the area.


The first thing you should think about when designing your content is consistency. Users should be able to learn what to expect from each new page of your site — the various features should be consistent with previous pages, in terms of style, location and function.

What, in particular, should we be aiming to make consistent? Lets go through them.


After the content itself, the site navigation is possibly the most important thing to get right. Its position and functionality should not change across a site, and it should be easily identifiable as navigation, with intuitive menu options.

Fonts and font sizes

Do not use too many different fonts, and treat them as you would a colour palette. Stick to a small number, perhaps one font for headings and one font for body text. Introducing a lot of variation serves to introduce distractions and noise, and this is something we want to avoid at all costs.

Interactive elements: links and buttons

It is important that users of any kind can recognise a link on your site. Links on a site need to follow the same style, and need to behave as a user would expect. Positioning, relevance, purpose and destination are all very important here.

The same goes for buttons, and there is much to be said for leaving buttons and other form controls as they are styled by the browser as this is what many users expect forms on the Web to look like. This not only delivers consistency across your site, but across all sites. Controls that are already familiar to a user will likely be less confusing.


It is important that content is well organised and structured. HTML gives us a limited set of elements to organise our content. Although we may sometimes find this restrictive it can actually be a good thing because it helps us be consistent as well. This section discusses the different facets of structure.


Headings and subheadings should be clear, meaningful and properly nested — they are a guide to the content on a page. Ideally it should be possible to get a good idea of what the content is about just by reading the headings.


By their very nature lists require more concentration to scan through and comprehend. Each item in a list should be short and concise, and further visual grouping of a list (eg using a different background colour to the rest of the page) – if you have a complicated concept to explain start with a list and then expand on each item under its own heading.

White space

White space is important for structure; without it all elements will merge in to one block and become incomprehensible. Look for good separation between headings, paragraphs, block quotes, etc. Pay particular attention to the spacing between columns of content; wide gutters or clear delineation with vertical borders can help.

Clear differentiation between content types

Use colour, font weights and other styles to differentiate between types of content, for example a quoted phrase could be emphasised, form labels could be strong. This makes it easier for users to determine the type of content they are looking at a glance.


Most users of websites are task-driven – they have a task that they want to perform, and they want to do it without distraction, as quickly as possible. It can be easy to distract attention from your content, so there are certain things to avoid, which we shall talk about now.

Contrasting blocks of colour

It is natural that a users eye will be drawn to the more colourful areas of the page, so avoid overly bright or intricate side columns or other needless distractions. You want to encourage users to be focused on the most important page content or functionality.

Unexpected sound

Avoid sounds that are played without the user specifically interacting with the source – this again will cause confusion.

Animations and other moving content

Movement on a page can be very distracting, especially if it happens automatically, without the user having any warning that is going to happen. The only place there should be movement is on the element the user is interacting with at that moment, for example a highlight on a navigation menu option, or playing a video when the user chooses to.

Pop ups and new tabs

Pop up windows and automatically loading content in new tabs moves attention away from the whole page — more confusion. In addition, popups usually tend to be adverts, therefore users tend to dismiss them regardless of their content.


Good readability guidelines apply to all text on your page, whether in navigation, graphics or just plain content. The most important part of any page is the content, and the following guidelines will help you make your content as readable and intuitive as possible.

Adequate text size and line height

A font size of 10px or 11px is often considered an acceptable minimum, however I would recommend 12px or 13px depending on the font (I am talking computed sizes here — you would of course set text size using a relative unit such as ems or percentage in your CSS). Although browsers have controls to adjust font sizes or zoom the entire page, there are no guarantees that a user will know how to use them.

Line height should be approximately one and a half times the font size.

Limited line length

Long line lengths can be difficult to read in some circumstances. Contrary to popular belief not all users have problems with long lines, but users with reading problems often do. Stick to a maximum of 70–80 characters of text per line.

Colour contrast

As for other users, good contrast between foreground and background is important. In addition, using colour to differentiate between links and regular text can help.

Short paragraphs

Write short paragraphs, each one focused on a single point or idea.


Transformability means that your content can be changed in ways to suit different users. We will look at various mechanisms you can employ to support transformability in this section.

Support text resizing

The most basic type of transformation is changing text size. Your design should be able to support a font size increase of at least 200%; 300% preferably.

This is less of an issue now that most browsers support full page zooming, but there are still users that would prefer to increase font size without changing the width of the page, the images, or the containing columns.

Support user styles

Make it easy for users to apply their own styles via user stylesheets. Write good clean CSS, using low specificity on selectors and avoiding the use of !important.

Ensure it works without images, scripting or styles

Test that the site works without images, scripting or styles at all. This is the ultimate fallback for all users in all situations, and it makes it easier for them to provide a usable baseline like this, rather than them having to write their own style sheet. It is also a good test of the structure of your content.

Provide an API or feed

Provide an API or a feed to allow others to re-format your content. Ultimately it may not be possible to cater for all users on one site, but if other developers are able to take your content and reformat it for different situations, you will reach an even wider and more diverse audience.

Twitter is a great example of what can be done with an API. Not only is content and the ability to tweet available from the website but there are many different client applications that can be tailored to different users needs. Accessible Twitter is an alternative to the Twitter website, designed and optimised to be easier to use by disabled users.

Another example is Easy YouTube, created by Christian Heilmann. It is an interface to YouTube specifically designed for users with learning difficulties. As Christian himself says in the documentation, without the availability of various APIs this would not have been possible.


Now on to the content itself, the most important part of a site. If you have marked up and structured your content correctly then it should be convertible to other forms, but if the content itself is broken then you have gone wrong from the beginning.

Spelling and grammar

Most users can probably get some meaning from content that has grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, but they can render a word or sentence completely meaningless to users with reading difficulties.

For commercial sites I would strongly advise using the services of a proof reader or professional copy editor.

For sites without a commercial budget, spell and grammar checkers are built in to most applications used to write content, so use them, but make sure you also give your content a human proof read as best you can.

Definitions of terms

Define any abbreviations, acronyms or technical terms. Provide a glossary for complicated or technical subjects. Avoid jargon if you can, but not to the point of removing clarity from the content.

One subject

Stick to the subject of your page; be focused and avoid digression.


Summarise the content of your page as an introductory paragraph. This allows your user to determine if this is the content they are looking for early on to avoid frustration.

Mix content types

Different users may find different forms of content easier to consume. For one user lots of images and less text may be more understandable, whereas for another the same content spoken in a video might be better.

Wherever resources allow, try to provide your content in multiple formats. Don’t forget to caption videos and transcribe audio content.

Obviously this can make content very editorially intensive, so is not possible in all cases, but if you have a product to sell and you include a text description, images showing individual features and a video clip of the product in use, this will not only constitute a better sales pitch, it will also allow users to pick the content type that works best for them.

It is also important to try and avoid making mixed content distracting. As previously mentioned, a solution for one user may be a hindrance to another. Sensible designs and interactions are key here. If you are mixing text with images perhaps separate the two rather than interspersing the images within the text. Display the images in a slideshow rather than showing them all at once, and try and provide the same information with images alone. A user can then choose to read the text or go through the slideshow to get the same content.


You may think that a lot of the points made in this article are nothing more than common sense, and you would be absolutely right! The good news is that the best strategy for creating a site accessible to those with cognitive or learning difficulties is to provide clear and straight forward content in an easy to use interface with few distractions. This is what we want to provide our users with in most circumstances anyway, so it only takes a little more care and thought to avoid the pit falls.

The benefits go beyond what is traditionally thought of as accessibility as well. Something as simple as good grammar can greatly increase comprehension, especially for readers who are not fluent in the language a document is written in.

There is some bad news unfortunately – a single interface or style of content is never going to be able to cater for all users in all circumstances. This gives further weight to the idea of exposing content via a good API or feed. The same content can be repurposed for display in a different format, on other web sites, or on devices such as mobile phones.

Joint Attention Test - Autism

Tools for Autism - Project Spectrum and Google SketchUp

Google SketchUp has come to be recognised as a powerful tool in the autism and Aspergers communities, enabling individuals to design, communicate, and collaborate in fun and interesting ways.

Designing with SketchUp can help increase success in school and even improve social skills. SketchUp can also help foster productivity and independence, paving the way for careers in architecture, interior design, game design, film and stage design, urban planning, education - a world of possibilities!

Google established Project Spectrum as a result of working with the Autism Society of Boulder. They observed that children who had limited verbal communication skills were using SketchUp to design intricate and interesting models, essentially projecting the ideas from their brains onto the computer screen.

Bonnie Roskes has teamed up with Project Spectrum to create the following projects, which can be downloaded and used by anyone in the autism / Aspergers community.

More projects are planned, and your feedback, suggestions, and comments are very valuable!


Toy Shop

Collaboration and Communication

In this fun project, a group of students work together to fill an empty toy shop. The students decide among themselves who will be responsible for each toy category.

Each student finds his or her models in the 3D Warehouse, then the group comes back together to place their models into the shop. Comments and feedback from each student help foster a collaborative experience.

Download the Toy Shop project (PDF)


Dentist Office

Relieving Anxiety

Who doesn't get nervous about a trip to the dentist? But "rehearsing" your appointment ahead of time can help make the actual experience easier. It's easy to model the physical spaces using basic rooms, then find the necessary models in the 3D Warehouse.

This project shows two ways to "walk through" the model, gives suggestions for conversations about what will happen at the dentist's office, and also shows how to make the experience funny (imagine walking into the examination room and seeing Homer Simpson instead of your dentist).

Download the Dentist Office project (PDF)

More Free stuff for Kids Activities - click here!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dyslexia: Swedish Centrum för lättläst - English

Easy-to-Read Publications: Swedish Centrum för lättläst - English

The aim of easy-to-read publications is to write simply and understandably, but at the same time in an adult and varied manner, and to use a combination of text and pictures. To achieve this we try to take into consideration the content, language, pictures and the graphic layout.

An easy-to-read text should have concrete content, usually with a simple story-line. Few people and places are involved. The course of events is usually described in chronological order, i.e. no jumps in time such as from present to the past.

Naturally the same criteria apply to easy-to-read texts as to other texts: if the reader considers the content to be interesting then it is easier to read the text.

The language should also be concrete. Long, unusual words should be avoided, as well as concepts that may have two meanings. "He is a big actor" may mean that he is a large man or that he is well-known.

Some of our readers often understand concepts in a concrete manner - i.e. that the actor is a large man. Neither do we use figurative language such as "castles in Spain" in easy-to-read texts, since such phrases can be interpreted literally.

We often choose to write two short sentences instead of using subordinate clauses.

One cannot assume that all readers are aware of places and countries or of dates. Such information must be placed in context: "1932 was when grandmother was young".

Pictures are important in easy-to-read texts. Concrete pictures should illustrate clearly what a thing looks like, without irrelevant details and strange angles. However, abstract pictures can also be used to express atmosphere or feelings. Other criteria apply in that case.

It is important for form and layout to be well thought through. It is easier for the reader to absorb information if text and pictures are presented as clearly and with as much space as possible.

Running text written with CAPITAL LETTERS or in italics is difficult to read. Many readers have difficulty in noticing full-stops and in reading long lines.

An easy-to-read text is thus often written with line-feeds at the end of each phrase. A new line starts at a natural point in the sentence, and always after a full stop. The reader can then make a pause at the proper place.

General framework
Over the years these rules have become more like a general framework. They are not to be taken too literally. An author of an easy-to-read text must – just like any author – use his or her intuition and linguistic sense. The author must imagine and relate to the readers / listeners in mind.

* More about easy-to-read – according to Centrum för Lättläst

Material you can download for free

The UN Standard Rules in easy-to-read English.
New revised edition with illustrations. (1041 kb)

The publishing of Easy-to-Read in Sweden.
Lecture given at the National Library of Australia, Canberra 1993, by Bror Tronbacke. (32 kb)

Easy-to-Read - an important part in reading
promotion and the fight against illiteracy. Lecture given at IFLA open session, Beijing 1996
by Bror Tronbacke. (33 kb)

Intel Reader and Dyslexia

Dyslexic students around the country are using the Intel® Reader to help them with printed text and to help complete homework efficiently and with confidence. Students at California’s Esther B. Clark School had a chance to work with the Intel Reader independently and incorporate it into their classroom activities.

Check out Ben, a 15 year-old Clark student, as he demonstrates the Intel Reader and the Intel® Portable Capture Station. Our favorite part of this video comes at the 1:15 mark-- Ben talks about loving the pre-programmed sample of Alice in Wonderland so much that he checked the book out from the library. Ben is a great example of a student who has used the Intel Reader and discovered something rare for many with dyslexia: reading for pleasure.

But judge for yourself get a hold of an Intel Reader and try it for yourself. Let us know how you find it; good, bad or indifferent.

Dyslexia and Brain Training

By understanding the neurobiological side of dyslexia, researchers have designed a type of coaching which helped dyslexics develop into better readers after eight weeks of the training. In the coaching, the dyslexic subject was forced to understand the basic sounds of language rapidly.

While 'brain' coaching with sounds, a brain imaging scan was performed. The areas which do not operate correctly, were activated by the coaching and this was maintained at an optimum level for the duration of the testing. Apart from the problem areas of the brain, different areas had been affected and enhanced by the training.

This 'brain' coaching is essential to help them distinguish the difference between the letters. One of the problems of dyslexics is how they distinguish letters and words with very similar sounds. The words are broken down into sounds and they are exaggerated or slowed right down to put emphasis on the separate sounds.

After the coaching, the students collaboration skills are increased, in the use of language and when studying for exams. This marked improvement in their ability to study and communicate also made them more confident, which is a big bonus for people with normally low self esteem.

The best option would be to find a cognitive coach or a study centre that has the power to deal with dyslexics. Tutoring would allow them to make use of completely different exercises, based on their needs. These centres would also have information on other dyslexia instruments, or aids that involve brain exercises and games.


I have changed some of the wording in this article to make it more readable. The original text has been written by a non-native English speaker and, although the message is very relevant, the meaning was a little difficult to determine immediately.

To read the full article go to the following linkDealing With Dyslexia Through Mind Training | Daily Health Care Tips

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dyslexia: Pathways Academy

Pathways Customer Statement says:
Our goal is to make this Community the best collection of shared knowledge on the topic of Dyslexia. Our philosophy is simple... LOOK, LISTEN and LEARN.

At Pathways Academy Dyslexia Support Network we encourage all of our community members to contribute content to keep this community alive.

We do moderate all content contributed to the site, so, please, be certain that your content addresses topics related to Dyslexia and Dyslexia Education.

This will ensure the educational value of the community and create a rewarding experience for us all.

Thank you!
The Pathways Team

Leave me a comment if you find this link useful or have any other information that you would like to share with us!

Dyscalcula and Number-processing skills in adults with dyslexia

Overall Summary of Scientific Study and Results
The present study investigated basic numerical skills and arithmetic in adults with developmental dyslexia. Participants performed exact and approximate calculation, basic numerical tasks (e.g., counting; symbolic number comparison; spatial-numerical association of response codes, SNARC), and visuospatial tasks (mental rotation and visual search tasks).

The group with dyslexia showed a marginal impairment in counting compared to age- and IQ-matched controls, and they were impaired in exact addition, in particular with respect to speed. They were also significantly slower in multiplication. In basic number processing, however, there was no significant difference in performance between those with dyslexia and controls. Both groups performed similarly on subtraction and approximate addition tasks.

These findings indicate that basic number processing in adults with dyslexia is intact. Their difficulties are restricted to the verbal code and are not associated with deficits in nonverbal magnitude representation, visual Arabic number form, or spatial cognition.

The Study details
It has long been recognised that language is a uniquely human ability. More recently it has been proposed that humans have an innate capacity to perceive numerosity, sometimes called the “number sense”.

The role of language in the development of human number representations (and hence mathematics) is debated. According to Dehaene's triple code model, three codes underpin our ability to process numbers and hence become numerate: a verbal code (linked to the language system); an analogue magnitude representation (underlying approximate calculation); and a visual code (linked to the Arabic number form).

Neuropsychological patients
Research on neuropsychological patients provides evidence for a double dissociation between language and number-processing systems, but this evidence does not imply that these systems develop independently.

From a developmental perspective, some theorists propose that language is essential for the development of numerical competencies, and there is evidence that the structure of the language system in which one grows up shapes the development of numerical concepts. Others, however, argue that numerical competence can develop independently of language.

Although less studied than reading difficulties, problems of mathematical development provide one way of understanding the relationships between language and number skills. Moreover, reading difficulties (RD) are often accompanied by problems with number work: Estimates of the overlap between reading difficulties and mathematical difficulties (MD) range from 2.3% to 40%.

Within the framework of the triple code model proposed by Dehaene, the most likely candidate for explaining the overlap between reading and mathematical difficulties is the verbal code. According to Dehaene, the verbal code is used most strongly for counting, for addition, and in multiplication tables, while approximate calculation and comparison as well as parity decision are supported more by the nonverbal codes.

Number-processing deficits in dyslexia
A number of clinical studies have documented the mathematical difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia.

Reviewing this literature, Simmons and Singleton concluded that the main difficulty is in recalling number facts. Thus, several studies report children with dyslexia to be slow at calculating or verifying sums.

Problems in multiplication and subtraction are common. Simmons and Singleton proposed that the mathematical difficulties observed in dyslexia might be related to phonological-processing deficits (that also cause reading and spelling problems).

Consistent with this, a number of studies have reported that phonological-processing abilities predict arithmetic impairment.

Contrary to this view, Landerl, Bevan, and Butterworth argue that learning to read and learning arithmetic are independent processes and that “fact retrieval is not, in essence, a verbally mediated process”.

The basis for their assertion came from a study of 8-9-year-old children with reading and/or arithmetic difficulties in which they classified children into three groups:

  • (a) children with dyslexia who did not have arithmetical difficulties (dyslexia-only);
  • (b) children with mathematical difficulties who did not have dyslexia (MD-only);
  • (c) children with dyslexia and MD.

NB: In tests of digit number naming, children with dyslexia-only performed at the same level as controls.

Children classified as having MD-only, however, had longer response latencies—indeed, even longer than those of the children with dyslexia and MD. They went on to argue that children with pure dyslexia do not experience number-processing deficits.

This conclusion needs to be treated with caution. First, the cut-offs used to define mathematical difficulties (3 standard deviations below the mean) and dyslexia (below the 25th percentile) were different, and the criterion used to define dyslexia was relatively lenient.

Second, it is not clear whether the dyslexia group had impairments in phonological processing. These issues limit the ability to generalise on the findings, and therefore the results may not be applied to all people with dyslexia.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Math Dyslexia = Dyscalculia

Math Dyslexia = Dyscalculia, Tennessee, daughter of American poet Ishmael

Ever joked about having MATH DYSLEXIA? It's called dyscalculia. 5% of the world is affected, but no one seems to know it exists. We need to change that.

The Dyscalculia Forum is a global nonprofit support forum. Not selling anything, just spreading the word.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Texting for the Deaf: a revolution

The parents of teenagers and young adults are often left bewildered about why their kids are constantly hunched over their cellular telephones, using only their thumbs to type messages faster than most people can type on a full-sized keyboard instead of just calling people and talking to them.

While many parents do not get it, text messaging is a form of communication that is here to stay, and for the deaf community, it has turned into an essential staple of giving and receiving information. The deaf saw the potential of text messaging shortly after it was first introduced in the late 1990s.

Alabama School for the Deaf principal Paul Millard said, “Some people here wanted to try it, but we didn’t have the (cellular) tower.”

Judith Gilliam, a board member of the Alabama Association of the Deaf and the National Association of the Deaf, said, “I remember a group of deaf people going to the council in Talladega begging for a tower to be set up there.”

It is no wonder the deaf community fought hard to have this service in the area. It effectively made the TTD (telecommunications device for the deaf) service of transmitting text through telephone lines instantly obsolete and lessened the need for a human relay operator.

The TTD systems connected to a telephone, and older versions could pass for a small piece of furniture due to their large size.

Rann Gordon, the director of services for the deaf at E.H. Gentry, said, “In the past we would call deaf people through the TTD, and we’d have to wait and wait and wait and didn’t know if they were home or not. Now with the BlackBerry, it saves time. We rarely use the (landline) phone or the TTDs.”

Matt Kochie, the assistive technology trainer for the deaf at E.H. Gentry, said, “Comparing now and 10 years ago, if there was no pager you’d have to go over to a friend’s house. With gas prices so high now, you can’t afford going back and forth.”

Gilliam said it also allows the deaf to be better informed about emergency situations, such as severe weather, because they can get alerts by cellular phone.

Text messaging has also changed dynamics in the work place.

Read more: The Daily Home - Texting A revolution in the way deaf people talk to the world

Western diet link to ADHD - Australian study

Leader of Nutrition studies at the Institute, Associate Professor Wendy Oddy, said the study examined the dietary patterns of 1800 adolescents from the long-term Raine Study and classified diets into ‘Healthy’ or ‘Western’ patterns.

“We found a diet high in the Western pattern of foods was associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis compared with a diet low in the Western pattern, after adjusting for numerous other social and family influences,” Dr Oddy said.

“We looked at the dietary patterns amongst the adolescents and compared the diet information against whether or not the adolescent had received a diagnosis of ADHD by the age of 14 years. In our study, 115 adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD, 91 boys and 24 girls.”

A “healthy” pattern is a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fish. It tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, folate and fibre. A “Western” pattern is a diet with a trend towards takeaway foods, confectionary, processed, fried and refined foods. These diets tend to be higher in total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium.

“When we looked at specific foods, having an ADHD diagnosis was associated with a diet high in takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products and confectionary,” Dr Oddy said.

“We suggest that a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function.

“It also may be that the Western dietary pattern doesn’t provide enough essential micronutrients that are needed for brain function, particularly attention and concentration, or that a Western diet might contain more colours, flavours and additives that have been linked to an increase in ADHD symptoms. It may also be that impulsivity, which is a characteristic of ADHD, leads to poor dietary choices such as quick snacks when hungry.”

Dr Oddy said that whilst this study suggests that diet may be implicated in ADHD, more research is needed to determine the nature of the relationship.

“This is a cross-sectional study so we cannot be sure whether a poor diet leads to ADHD or whether ADHD leads to poor dietary choices and cravings,” Dr Oddy said.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood mental health disorder and has a prevalence of approximately 5%. ADHD is known to be more common in boys.