Translating dyslexia support to distance learning a challenge, but not impossible

Dive Brief:

  • Dyslexia interventions can be replicated virtually with online sensory tools and assistive technology, District Administration reports, noting applications that allow for interactive learning also help students engage in distance learning environments.
  • Zoom, for example, has annotation tools that give students interactive capabilities, and using them to highlight, underline, and draw symbols can help students break down words and sentences to demonstrate their understanding. Similar tools are also helpful for students who lack the motor skills to write or use a mouse.
  • Sound production is more difficult to replicate through a computer, so teachers may need to repeat themselves and try not to speak too fast. However, distance learning also allows educators to teach mask-free, which makes it easier for students to understand what the instructor is saying.

Dive Insight:

When teaching students with dyslexia through online learning platforms, educators should assess their existing resources. Technology help is often available through school specialists or online webinars hosted by the creators of the software. Using any existing strategies that can easily transition to distance learning will maintain consistency. It’s also important to reach out to parents who may not know the best way to help their dyslexic child succeed.

The Orton-Gillingham approach — which teaches students how to decode words — converts well into a remote setting. For example, when using the phonogram card drill, instructors can hold the cards up to the camera. By using the mirror setting, they can also see what the students are seeing and be sure it reads correctly to the student. Instructors can use a document camera to conduct the blending drill.

For younger students, the digital letter tiles can be set up in piles. Educators can share the screen with students so they can add the letters ll, ss, ff or zz for floss words. Slideshows are also helpful if lessons need to be repeated, though it may take some time to build. Online white boards and annotation tools work well for marking vowels and syllables.

Dyslexia impacts an estimated 5% to 10% of the population, and as many as 80% of those with poor reading skills are dyslexic. Students with dyslexia are sometimes misidentified as being cognitively slow, but many believe the contrary — that dyslexic students are often gifted. Gifted students with dyslexia are considered “twice exceptional,” which may require a personalized learning plan.

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