The White Rose Dyslexia Centre provides practical support, advice, and information to individuals with dyslexia and dyscalculia in South Yorkshire, including assessments, workplace needs advice, awareness training and supportive technology recommendations.
Based in Sheffield, its focus is on sharing knowledge and expertise to empower those with dyslexia and dyscalculia. It also raises awareness amongst those who teach and work with individuals who have these challenges, so that they have a greater understanding of the strengths and areas where they might need extra support.
Vicky Shaw is part of a small, dedicated team at the White Rose Dyslexia Centre. During the
last 23 years, she has worked with children and adults with specific learning difficulties, in
both education and the workplace.
Whilst conducting dyslexia screening tests, specialist workplace needs assessments, as well as exam access arrangements testing on behalf of the Centre, the team help students and individuals in the workplace to succeed in their school career or work environment.
Vicky explains: “We meet many students with dyslexia and dyscalculia who need our support in identifying exam access arrangements. It’s imperative that students have the support they qualify for at one of the most important times of their school career. Most students need to rely on exam reading pens which some students find difficult and slow to use, which then causes frustration.
“There is the alternative of a human reader for those students in exams, but many students
can be reluctant to access this as it means they need to raise their hand and wait for
someone to come over to help. This can make students feel uncomfortable as it marks them
out as different and can be distracting for them in the midst of an exam.”
Vicky and the team also support individuals in the workplace by making recommendations
as to reasonable adjustments, so that dyslexia or dyscalculia doesn’t necessarily have to
limit their success within the workplace and chosen career.
Vicky explains: “We also assess many Jobcentre clients whose options are limited due to low levels of literacy and so are unable to read health and safety notices, addresses or other work-related information. Without those basic literacy skills then employers are often unable to offer opportunities to them. OrCam offers a portable, intuitive solution which could enable those individuals to access the labour market and achieve a level of independence within the workplace.
The team at White Rose Dyslexia Centre recently started using the OrCam Learn, an innovative, powerful new solution that supports teachers and schools, enabling every student to explore their full potential – by offering vital, practical reading support, and feedback, analysis and reporting.
Vicky Shaw says: “With OrCam Learn, individuals with dyslexia and other learning challenges can have an empowering learning experience, regardless of the challenges they are facing. The solution is so user friendly and portable, that it can be used in the workplace to read health and safety information or other text required to carry out workplace duties. It is also perfect for use within an educational setting as it has an exam mode so students don’t have to request and/or rely on a human reader.”
About 1.5 billion people around the world live with some form of learning challenge, and without sufficient support, many of them struggle to keep up. The OrCam Learn is designed specifically to cater to the unique needs of people with learning challenges. The user simply points the device at the desired text, and with a single click of a button, OrCam Learn starts reading it aloud as the user follows.
Learning efficiency is improved further with OrCam Learn’s breakthrough Reading Pal feature, which listens to the student reading and provides instant feedback. We know that students learn faster when the experience is interactive. The OrCam Learn tests reading comprehension by asking content-related questions and provides instant feedback on the student’s responses. The companion app tracks and evaluates progress by producing reports, so in an education setting, teachers can follow the user’s progress and improvement.
Using personal challenges to support others
Heather is another member of the White Rose Dyslexia team. Being dyslexic herself she has first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing people with dyslexia both in education and the workplace. Whilst studying she has often felt anxious and alienated from others who didn’t face the same challenges with processing information when reading and reflecting their knowledge and ideas in writing. Since working at the White Rose Dyslexia Centre, Heather has been introduced to the OrCam Learn.
Heather explains: “It’s very rewarding to be working at the White Rose Dyslexia Centre as I’ve had similar challenges to those we are supporting. I was recently introduced to the OrCam Learn, which is an incredible hand-held device. It acts as a learning companion and really has the potential to transform the lives of people with learning challenges. It would have made my life so much easier whilst I was studying.
“I’m really impressed with the endless possibilities the OrCam Learn has in giving students and people in work their independence and ability to achieve their