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Let’s Talk About Dyslexia and Dyspraxia

In this instalment of 'Let's Talk About Disability', we are celebrating the national Dyslexia and Dyspraxia awareness weeks.

Below we highlight ways we are working to recognise the strengths and creativity of dyslexic and dyspraxic staff and students in our community, along with their invaluable contributions to society. As well as creating opportunities to talk about change by acknowledging the challenges and barriers that staff and students face. We are committed to creating culture of awareness within our diverse community that celebrates the values of our Social Inclusion Strategy.

Not familiar with this instalment's theme? Find out more by clicking below:

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties; the difficulties affect the learning process in aspects of literacy and sometimes numeracy. Getting through required reading is generally seen as the biggest challenge at higher education level due in part to inability to skim and scan written material. Marked and persistent weaknesses may be identified in short-term and working memory, speed of processing, sequencing skills, auditory and /or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills.

Abilities can include good visuo-spatial skills, creative thinking and intuitive understanding; enabling technology is usually found to be very beneficial.

What is Dyspraxia?

Students with dyspraxia are affected by an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement, often appearing clumsy. Gross motor skills (related to balance and co-ordination) and fine motor skills (relating to manipulation of objects) are hard to learn and difficult to retain and generalise. Writing is particularly laborious and keyboard skills difficult to acquire. Pronunciation may also be affected and people with dyspraxia may be over/under sensitive to noise, light and touch. They may have poor awareness of body position and misread social cues in addition to those shared characteristics common to many SpLDs.

 


Stories from our community

Learn more by reading the personal story of a staff member below and of a student in this blog - Dyslexia and Higher Education.

"It seems that dyslexia is still considered a disability associated with stupidity or lack of intellect. I was diagnosed in France, where I grew up, at the age of 17. Teachers just assumed that I struggled with both English and French and therefore did not pick up on this. I was also asked if I would prefer attending a ‘special school’ once I was diagnosed. I moved over to England to attend University and in 2014 I was awarded a 1st from Coventry University in Animal Science and Welfare. I began lecturing in 2014, I taught post 16 BTEC qualifications and first year veterinary nursing degree students. Throughout this time, I did not mention to my line manager or colleagues that I was dyslexic. I had to learn to hide it very well, dodging minute taking or avoiding reading out loud. I received my Diploma in Teaching and Training from the University of Warwick in 2017 with Outstanding in Teaching, still I felt uncomfortable admitting it to anyone. Once I decided to leave teaching, I started admitting that I was dyslexic (maybe it was because I didn’t care so much anymore), the reaction was not positive. Comments included – ‘how can you be a lecturer and be dyslexic?’, ‘You’re dyslexic but you teach?’. Needless to say these comment made it difficult to ever admit to any other employer that I have a learning disability.

I then started working in admin for an international company in Warwick. During the recruitment process, I was told that this sort of job would not suit someone with dyslexia. This affected my confidence but I persevered and got the job. I then had to start the process of hiding my disability. This was very stressful but I just about managed. I finished my one year maternity cover and then started working at the University of Warwick. I have never admitted on an application that I may need special requirements. I never thought that an employer would allow for extra time for an admin test and if they saw I was dyslexic automatically assume I couldn’t do the job.

Unfortunately, unconscious bias still exists and I wanted any employer to get to know me first before I admitted anything. Basically I wanted them to realise I could do the job regardless.

The Engineering Department at Warwick is the first place I’ve felt comfortable enough to talk about my dyslexia with colleagues and my line manager, and the response has been very positive".

Olivia Joyce


Library accessibility

The Library and IT Services offer a range of accessibiltiy features, including

  • Assistive software and productivity tools can improve your e-reading accessibility.
  • Try watching the Library e-book video playlist to find out how you can adjust and improve an e-book's appearance.
  • Students can register with RNIB Bookshare, an online educational Library with over 600,000 titles in accessible formats which can be used alongside assistive software. Eligibility isn’t limited to people with a visual impairment; Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and physical disabilities are included too.

The Library also offers a range of services and support, including bookable accessible and sensory study rooms, where students can adjust their sensory environment to their own individual preferences.

Inclusive education

Increase your awareness of inclusive and accessible teaching practices:

Students' Union

Find out more about the work of the Students' Union Disabled Students’ Officer and Warwick Enable - the disability liberation and campaigning society on campus for disabled students, their friends, allies and carers or enablers, and anyone who is passionate about disability and inclusivity.

Staff Network

Join the Disabled Staff Network. The network is open to all staff members with an interest in making the University a more accessible place for all and creating a more inclusive environment.

Sunflower lanyards

Wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard is a discreet way to choose to make the invisible visible. It discreetly indicates to people that the wearer may need additional support, help or a little more time.

Adjustments

Get adjustments to support you in your work or studies.

  • Adjustments for staff: MAP is a tool to help you to have meaningful and confidential conversations with your line manager or other University representative.
  • Adjustments for students: Disability Services can support you to access a range of adjustments, exam arrangements, advice, and one to one study skills support.

BDF resources

As members of the Business Disability Forum, the University has access to a range of Member Resouces including toolkits, factsheets, case studies, videos, and webinars to help you understand more about how to be disability inclusive. Just sign up with your University email address to get a free account.

Membership also grants us unlimited access to BDF's confidential Advice Service, a team of expert advisers who are enthusiastic about improving disabled people’s experiences of employment and users of services.