Dyslexia - Understanding disabilities, impairments and specific learning difficulties - University of Derby


Students who are diagnosed with dyslexia will experience difficulties with some or all aspects of literacy, as well as, processing, storing and retrieving information.

Considerations need to be made due to the educational implications for the student, as well as, emotional impact these difficulties may present.

The specific support needs of individual students with a diagnosis of dyslexia will be set out in their Support Plan.

Differing degrees of all or some of the following difficulties are likely:

  • The student may have a slow reading speed, particularly when reading unfamiliar text. 
  • Students may have a tendency to misread words, omit the endings from words, miss out words or swap the word/letter order when reading. 
  • They may experience difficulties in tracking their place in the text and have to reread it many times in order to gain an understanding. 
  • When completing their work the effort put in may not reflect in their performance or results
  • The student might experience difficulties with planning and writing essays; including sentence structure, organisation of information, grammar and punctuation
  • They may struggle with memory (long and/or short term)
  • Spelling and punctuation.
  • They may struggle to recall information and communicate knowledge in examinations.
  • The student may struggle to find the right words to say and lack confidence in communicating their knowledge and understanding in presentations.
  • The student may struggle with personal organisation, including meeting deadlines.
  • The student may also experience scotopic sensitivity syndrome and may use coloured overlays and/or wear coloured lenses 
  • Their difficulties may become more apparent when under time pressure

If you are teaching a student who experiences dyslexia it is important to assist their learning by:

  • Ensuring reading lists and lecture notes are available in advance via UDo- (unless to do so would academically disadvantage the student) with directed reading pointing students to specific parts/chapters.
  • Using Panopto where appropriated 
  • Including time for all students to read any information given out in class
  • Breaking down processes into small, logical steps.
  • Avoiding text in block capitals. Ensuring that information is accessible by the font/size and presentation of text; Use of a sans serif font for example Arial and a minimum of 12 point.
  • Ensuring guidelines for assignments are unambiguously written and clearly present.
  • Adapting to and recognising different learning styles. 
  • Be aware the student may require adjustments for exams e.g. extra time, use of assistive software (screen reader), a Scribe, separate room, but note the student has a personal responsibility to confirm exam support.
  • Being aware individuals may need additional time for practical tasks and Assessed Extended Deadlines (AEDs) for the submission of individual assignments. However, students are advised to work to original deadlines and inform their Module Leader of their intention to use their AED. The use AEDs for Specific Learning Differences is currently under review. 
  • Considering alternatives to writing, for example use of a voice recorder.
  • Designing PowerPoint slides so that they have a pale blue or pale yellow background

It should be noted that for some individuals their difficulties may impact on other aspects of their life. This may affect the student’s confidence, motivation and wellbeing. Their support will, therefore, be continuous and may change to reflect any additional need.

It is, therefore, important for lecturers/tutors to:-

  • Get to know the student and their particular needs; be prepared to meet with the student early on to discuss this.
  • Be sensitive to the needs of the student without drawing attention to them. 
  • Involve the student in a multi-sensory approach e.g. diagrams or mind maps to explain concepts.

Lecturers and tutors will need to take into consideration all aspects of the course and how these may need to be adapted or discussed with the individual. This includes placements, field trips, lab work etc.

We appreciate that self-consciously changing teaching methods/strategies can be extremely difficult, we would, therefore advise lecturers to meet with their students to not only discuss the students need but also how the student can support their lecturer in ensuring their teaching is accessible. It is always a good idea to open the channels of communication so both student and lecturer feel comfortable to discuss when things aren’t working and how this can be amended.
For further information or if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Student Wellbeing team via studentwellbeing@derby.ac.uk or ext: 3000.

Where can I find out more?




www.rcn.org.uk – Toolkit for Nursing staff.

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides?f[0]=field_project_topics%3A569 - Quick guides on accessibility and inclusion

http://www.altformat.org/xstandard/A%20guide%20to%20ensuring%20your%20e-learning%20materials%20are%20accessible%20and%20inclusive.pdf - A guide to ensuring your e-learning materials are accessible and inclusive.

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Learning and Teaching Conference 2018 - Call for proposals

The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is pleased to announce the call for proposals for the Learning & Teaching Conference 2018. All staff are invited to submit using the online form below for consideration by the conference review panel. Proposals need to be submitted no later than 12 noon on 22 May 2018.