As a dyslexia and business specialist, I meet many people who are supporting young people on apprenticeship programmes or 'get into work' initiatives. They are always keen to ask me for hints and tips that will help young people with their employment skills.
So here are a few suggestions that answer one of the questions I most frequently get asked:
How do I support a young person with their reading skills?
If you are working in role supporting young people, then you are highly likely to come across someone with reading difficulties as part of dyslexia. The difficulties encountered with dyslexia are not confined to reading, as there are auditory and visual issues as well, however one of the main barriers to learning is not having efficient, confident reading, so it is important to support this aspect.
Any training programme will require a trainee to be reading material that is out of their area of expertise and interest. It can mean tackling a whole new vocabulary and manner of expression. This can slow down a young person's ability to grasp meaning and can result in them having to re-read passages many times to ensure that they have read accurately and interpreted meaning correctly. So here are a few ideas for you to pass on to them.
5 tips to help you read for information more easily:
Tip 1. Try to read in an environment where you can control noise levels and types of noise. If you read better with music on then there is no need for silence. What is important is that you control the noise/music to suit your needs. This should cut down on distractions.
Tip 2. Read complicated sections out loud. This ensures that you are not skipping words or mis-reading words.
Tip 3. Print out information instead of reading it from a screen. This will allow you to add notes and highlight - actions which help improve memory of complicated contents. Reading from a screen brings distractions from glare, pictures, logos, adverts and pop-ups. If screen glare is an issue then it could be a sign that you have Meares-Irlen Syndrome. If you have to read from a screen then try using Evernote Clearly - it will get rid of all the annoying distractions that litter many websites and allow you to highlight key words.
Tip 4. Use a finger or ruler to stop you reading ahead. This works by narrowing your depth of field and allows you to focus more on one word at a time. You could also cover sections of information that you are not reading with a blank sheet of paper.
Tip 5. Try printing out information on coloured paper rather than white. White paper is known to cause interference in some readers due to their sensitivity to glare. It can make reading uncomfortable after time, contribute to your inattention and slow up your processing of text. If you have such difficulties then it may be an indication of Meares-Irlen Syndrome. This is not dyslexia, but many people with dyslexia (c. 60%) can also have this syndrome. An easy way to tell if you might benefit from using non-white paper is to use the colour changer at the top right hand of this screen. You can change the colour and hue of the background very finely to suit your needs. If you find that changing the colour makes the screen easier to read, then try using a paper of a similar colour. This is only a rough guide - a more reliable indication requires screening for Meares-Irlen Sydrome.
Jan Halfpenny writes, conducts research and trains organisations and individuals on dyslexia and business.
Recent research on dyslexic entrepreneurs: In Their Element: The Case for Investing in Dyslexic Entrepreneurs