Supporting Dyslexic Learners

This year I've been much more aware of many learners attending my courses who are dyslexic - whether they have mild 'symptoms' or serious dyslexia and find it extremely difficult to read at all. Whilst the NPTC assessments are practical based, with questions asked to test knowledge, the problem still remains for trainers to put across information in a manner suitable for everyone, irrespective of any learning difficulties.

This is an area that I'm just starting to learn about myself, and over the last 6-9 months I've been trying to help those that are dyslexic so that they can revise skills and knowledge learnt on a course. Find out more after the jump...

Here at Sparsholt College, at the start of the year I tweaked the application process so that I knew in advance if learners with learning difficulties, dyslexia and so on, were to attend a course. This sort of knowledge is important to a trainer so that we can make our lessons inclusive for everyone.

For starters, I rely heavily on imagery when I teach, although I can't get away entirely from text here and there; and of course the course notes that every student gets have large areas of text. From what I've learnt, the colour of the paper that the notes are written on can make a big impact, improving readability. I now make it a point to ask any students if they would prefer to have their notes printed on something other than standard white paper.

It's only a small thing, but the response from dyslexic students has been interesting - it really seems to make a difference. In fact, one student was really taken by the fact that I had asked and made a comment along the lines of "Thanks, yes I'd like it on pale yellow paper. I can't believe you care - where I was before just treated me as if I was stupid". That's no way to treat anyone and I;ve had other students who have benefited from this small change.

It's also why I have introduced some audio stuff here on DriveLink, as well as video. It's just another way of getting across the information, some will prefer to watch a video, others will hate it. That's fine - as long as they get the skills and knowledge they need to operate a chainsaw, fell a tree, or climb, safely.

The image at the top of the screen was actually destined to be a storyboard for another instructional video that I want to make (I've got so many ideas for videos!), but I also wondered of it was useful to others as a quick reference on how to sharpen a chain. Naturally, it's a bit light on actual information (that's what the video will be for), but as an aide-memoire or quick reference, if it's useful to someone then print it off. It's sized for A4 paper, so should just print out fine.

If you're reading this, and you've got staff, or you know someone that has learning difficulties of some sort, then make sure they get the training they deserve - improving the effectiveness of the training we deliver will help reduce accidents and increase knowledge across this industry.

- David -


hayesatlbch said...

I have collected some links to free information and programs for dyslexics you might want to pass on. the URL is

David Vickers said...

Hi hayesatlbch,

Thank you for the link - there seems to be a good range of software, advice and comment on supporting dyslexia. Good resource.

- David -