by Terrie Noland, C.A.L.P, VP of Educator Leadership and Learning
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month and we have come a long way in helping students be successful in their learning process.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. Secondary consequences may be difficulties with reading comprehension that can impede vocabulary and background knowledge.
Dyslexia affects 80 percent of all students identified as learning disabled, and may be a primary reason why so many students fall short of their academic goals.
Making Real Progress
The good news is that many educators now specialize in dyslexia and early literacy. They teach students new strategies to break through reading barriers. They encourage use of assistive technology and accessible content. They screen early to identify reading deficits and address “whole child” learning that is social, emotional, and motivational.
Students receive more time-on-task, are given multiple representations of materials and various ways to demonstrate knowledge. They understand their learning style. They are better equipped with grade-level, age-appropriate materials, not just leveled readers, and a quality reading accommodation.
Fortunately, there is also far less stereotyping of struggling readers as lazy or troublemakers, and more open discussions about learning challenges. Two books to dialogue with children are "The Fantastic Elastic Brain" and "The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes".
Listening is Learning
Research about dyslexia and brain activity are widely respected. There is more acceptance that using an audiobook is not cheating. Reading a book in print or listening to a book in audio are equivalent acts of learning. Two articles to read are, “To Your Brain, Listening to a Book is Pretty Much the Same as Reading It,” and “Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading?”
Dual Approach to Reading Instruction and Grade-Level Access
More teachers use a dual approach to reading instruction -- a structured literacy approach for students who need more instruction in decoding, and access to grade-level text to stimulate their cognitive processing to maintain academic pace with classmates.
This is where Learning Ally “human-read” audiobooks shine. Using this supplemental reading accommodation, students have access to curriculum and literature. They listen to skilled narrators enunciate words to hear how they clearly sound and how phonemes blend together to form words. Human-read audio improves comprehension and vocabulary. Students read more fluently. They gain background knowledge. This versatile, multisensory reading experience works well in all instructional settings to prevent learning loss and to accelerate learning -- in class, distance or hybrid environments.
Reading Accommodation for All Ages
Learning Ally has a well-stocked audiobook library of academic and popular titles, with different genres to engage students of varying cultures and interests.
In elementary school, “human-read” audiobooks can bring joy in reading, while strengthening vocabulary, reading habits and reading independence. This audio sample of authentic narration of Islandborn by Junot Diaz, showcases how human-read audiobooks can make a story come alive for children.
In middle school, students can use human-read audiobooks to comprehend complex information and develop critical thinking skills. This sample audio of authentic narration of Rebound, by Kwame Alexander, underscores the connections students can make with books they identify with. Accessible books can also improve a struggling reader’s learning confidence in high school to believe they can become high achievers.
Dyslexia never goes away. It should never define a learner, nor prohibit a learner from reaching their highest goals. Equitable access starts with books in print and accessible books on grade-level to learn in general or special education classes. The sooner schools can develop early detection processes with a balanced, structured literacy approach and the right resources and motivation, the sooner we can celebrate one of the greatest equalizers for students with learning differences.
This quote by Dr. Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity sums up the biggest gift we can give to students with dyslexia. “Dyslexia robs a person of time, but accommodations return that time to them.”
About Learning Ally
The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution levels the playing field for students who struggle to read. Sign up for a demo to experience the satisfaction of seeing students who have never experienced reading success improve their skills, grades, and confidence.