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Malcolm Litten
 Visit 50 schools/colleges.
 Full range of institutions:
◦ Primary, middle/preparatory, secondary, FE.
◦ State (range of...
 Assistance with reading:
◦ Text-to-speech everywhere
 Assistance with writing:
◦ Speaking word processor and spellcheck...
 Text-to-speech available on network:
Yes: 22% No: 78%
 Speaking word processor and spellchecker
Yes: 36% Wordprocessor ...
 Access
◦ Much (most?) information still delivered in print.
◦ Most (almost all?) assessment conducted through
reading an...
 Textbooks for all
 E.A Draffen‟s account of a government
funded project providing laptops with
assistive technology and...
 The Voice of Text-to-Speech Technology.
One Possible Solution for Struggling Readers?
 Dr. Michelann Parr (2012)
 http...
 Computer-assisted Interventions Targeting
Reading Skills of Children with Reading
Disabilities – A Longitudinal Study
 ...
 Change to Examination Access Arrangements
(JCQ) introduced in September 2012.
• A candidate entitled to a reader could u...
 50,000 candidates were allowed to use a
reader.
 There were about 1000 requests to use text-
to-speech.
 I estimate ab...
 No-one reported any technical problems.
 Candidate 1: TTS “made it easier.” “I didn‟t need it much.”
 Candidate 2: “It...
 Candidate 7: “It was okay.” “Yes, it helped.”
 Candidate 8: “I used it to listen through once then it was
in my head an...
 Although performance generally on the relevant section
was improved from that on the 'mock' exam (on which
most pupils h...
 Feedback is very positive with regard to students being able to work
independently. We find a lot of the students that o...
 Of the 2012 pupils, 3 pupils did not do as well as expected in
English language, based on residual data. The other 2 exc...
 Lack of software
 Quality of IT support
 Provision of a digital version of the exam
paper
 Fear of the consequences o...
 Failure to tackle an obligation that has
existed since the Equality Act of 2010.
 Who recognises the need?
 Who implem...
 Failure to tackle an obligation that has
existed since the Equality Act of 2010.
 Who recognises the need?
 Who implem...
 „Assistive Technology and Mild Disabilities‟ – Dave L
Edyburn (2006)
Special Education Technology Practice, 8(4) pp 18-2...
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A study of the availability and use of assistive technology with dyslexic pupils in English schools.

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Presented by Malcolm Litten at the BDA International Conference, March 2014

Despite the existence of a variety of tools designed to assist individuals who experience difficulties in reading and writing, research reveals that only a minority of schools actually employ them with their pupils. Even where there exist good quality freeware tools, few schools have a policy of systematically making these available on their network. Research has demonstrated the positive value of such assistive technology and a recent change in exam access arrangements at GCSE argues that its use to assist print-impaired candidates read text is acceptable as proof of independent reading. This paper describes the present failure to enable dyslexic pupils to engage independently in their education and explores the factors that prevented even the best-intentioned schools from offering their pupils the chance to use text-to-speech in the 2013 English GCSE exams.

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A study of the availability and use of assistive technology with dyslexic pupils in English schools.

  1. 1. Malcolm Litten
  2. 2.  Visit 50 schools/colleges.  Full range of institutions: ◦ Primary, middle/preparatory, secondary, FE. ◦ State (range of LEAs) and private. ◦ Mainstream, special, specialist. Survey current use of assistive software. Explore what is needed to achieve change.
  3. 3.  Assistance with reading: ◦ Text-to-speech everywhere  Assistance with writing: ◦ Speaking word processor and spellchecker ◦ Predictive typing support ◦ Word banks ◦ Speech recognition software
  4. 4.  Text-to-speech available on network: Yes: 22% No: 78%  Speaking word processor and spellchecker Yes: 36% Wordprocessor only 16% No: 48%  Predictive typing support Yes: 20% No: 80%  Word banks Yes: 43% No: 57%  Speech recognition Yes: 14% No: 86%
  5. 5.  Access ◦ Much (most?) information still delivered in print. ◦ Most (almost all?) assessment conducted through reading and writing.  Tools ◦ We cannot expect engagement while not providing the means. ◦ Too often we are teaching dependence to those with special needs – the last thing they need. ◦ „I can‟ with the right tools.
  6. 6.  Textbooks for all  E.A Draffen‟s account of a government funded project providing laptops with assistive technology and e-documents to a group of 11-14 year-old dyslexics.  www.inclusive.co.uk/Lib/Doc/pubs/dolphin- project-final-report.pdf
  7. 7.  The Voice of Text-to-Speech Technology. One Possible Solution for Struggling Readers?  Dr. Michelann Parr (2012)  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumer acy/inspire/research/ww_ttst.pdf
  8. 8.  Computer-assisted Interventions Targeting Reading Skills of Children with Reading Disabilities – A Longitudinal Study  Linda Fälth et al (2013)  http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 002/dys.1450/full
  9. 9.  Change to Examination Access Arrangements (JCQ) introduced in September 2012. • A candidate entitled to a reader could use text-to- speech software in questions assessing their reading: “A computer reader will be allowed in papers (or sections of papers) testing reading. A computer reader is an acceptable arrangement since it allows the candidate to independently meet the requirement of the reading standards.”
  10. 10.  50,000 candidates were allowed to use a reader.  There were about 1000 requests to use text- to-speech.  I estimate about a quarter of these resulted in a candidate using text-to-speech in the exam. i.e. half of one per cent of those eligible.
  11. 11.  No-one reported any technical problems.  Candidate 1: TTS “made it easier.” “I didn‟t need it much.”  Candidate 2: “It worked really well.”  Candidate 3: “I wasn‟t going to use it, but I tried it and the voice was really good.” “It was better than me reading it.”  Candidate 4: “It worked well.” It was “annoying to have to close one document to open the other.” (Candidates were working on Classbooks that had 10” screens. The questions were in a separate document to the reading passages. Perhaps because of the size of the screen, this candidate was regularly opening and closing the two documents, rather than simply switching between them.)  Candidate 5: “It was okay.” “I used it to read right through then reread it for myself, getting help with difficult words.”  Candidate 6: “I didn‟t use it.” – from choice, not because of any problem.
  12. 12.  Candidate 7: “It was okay.” “Yes, it helped.”  Candidate 8: “I used it to listen through once then it was in my head and I remembered it.”  Candidate 9: “It worked okay.” “A bit annoying switching between the two documents.” “I could understand the voice.”  Candidate 10: “It was good. I listened a bit.”  Candidate 11: “Perfect! I used it more than I expected. It was helpful.”  Candidate 12: “It was a help.” “It worked okay.”  Candidate 13: “I didn‟t use it much.” “It helped to have it read out.”  Candidate 14: “I used it to listen through the passages. I listened to the questions a couple of times, then read them myself.”
  13. 13.  Although performance generally on the relevant section was improved from that on the 'mock' exam (on which most pupils had a scribe, but had to read the passages for themselves), that is actually usually the case, as pupils tend to 'up their game' on the big day anyway.  However, the most striking feature of its use was the huge benefit felt by those pupils whose reading skills were characteristically the major limiting factor in their performance in the subject. These divide into two categories: those whose assimilation of concepts and materials would be very good without their disability and those whose wouldn't, because of more 'global' learning difficulties; all of them performed at the very peak of what we could realistically expect of them on this section and all exceeded their target grade overall.
  14. 14.  Feedback is very positive with regard to students being able to work independently. We find a lot of the students that opt for the computer reader are those that are self-conscious using a live reader.  Pupils found it really helpful to use the software. I'd say it gave them much more confidence to 'have a go' at the answers, even though I'm not sure they understood more than if they tried to read for themselves.  I don't have a definitive idea of whether using a computer reader made any difference to my pupils. No one got an unexpected C, for example. All pupils got just about the grade I'd expect. What I do know is that the anecdotal evidence is that the computer reader gave them much more confidence in tackling the exam.
  15. 15.  Of the 2012 pupils, 3 pupils did not do as well as expected in English language, based on residual data. The other 2 exceeded expectations based on residual data. Of the 2013 pupils, all 6 of the pupils exceeded expectations in English language, based on residual data. That would seem to suggest that it has a positive impact for pupils – however, our results in English have improved in general this year anyway, by a little bit. Without trying to be too statistical on such small numbers, the increase in English results overall, versus the average increase in the group of readers residuals, would still suggest better than expected results for that group.
  16. 16.  Lack of software  Quality of IT support  Provision of a digital version of the exam paper  Fear of the consequences of failure  Scepticism over the justification for this access arrangement?
  17. 17.  Failure to tackle an obligation that has existed since the Equality Act of 2010.  Who recognises the need?  Who implements the solution?  Who is responsible overall?
  18. 18.  Failure to tackle an obligation that has existed since the Equality Act of 2010.  Who recognises the need?  Who implements the solution?  Who is responsible overall?  So - a triumvirate of SENCo, IT support and Senior Management.
  19. 19.  „Assistive Technology and Mild Disabilities‟ – Dave L Edyburn (2006) Special Education Technology Practice, 8(4) pp 18-28. https://googledrive.com/host/0BxFAYVOZ453RTEQyX1 hqX2xmV1k/Day%2006%20%28weekend%20reading!%29 /ATMildDisabilities.pdf  While we are quick to respond to physical disadvantage with assistance, there appears to be very substantial delay before similar help is considered for learning disadvantage. It appears to be seen as admitting defeat in helping the individual to learn. In my experience, the opposite is the case.

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