Supporting Students with Learning Differences

How can I help a dyscalculic student?

Try to find out where the student is, conceptually, until you reach their level of understanding. Start the learning process gradually, controlled by their pace, with carefully graded examples.
Avoid correcting trivial copying mistakes and calculating errors
- If a student has informed you that they have dyscalculia then supervise
drug calculations before confidence is established both with the student and
yourself.
Students deserve explanation and justification - it inspires mathematical thinking.
Use calculators - they are a useful tool. It helps to focus all energy on the concept you are trying to put over, not on some complicated and unnecessary calculation procedure.
Root new techniques in visual, concrete, intuitive scenarios whenever you can.
Build on student’s strengths. This type of thinker often excels at creative, divergent, right-brain thinking. Give them ‘open’ questions- students are likely to enjoy them and they help greatly with the concept anyway
Look at how non-dyscalculic, mathematically-intuitive thinkers tackle things, and gently encourage thinking in this way, where you can.

How can I support a dyslexic student?

Mentoring: making materials accessible

· Think whether it is possible to utilise diagrammatic aids if possible
· Encourage the use of sound recording – not possible when issues of confidentiality arise but during training sessions it may be possible.
· Indicate key items for policies and procedures (and key chapters)
· Provide glossaries of technical/medical terms
· Provide handouts when and if possible
· Provide handouts electronically if possible – a number of documents will be on the intranet
· Use non-book source material where possible

Tips for paper-based materials – This is a guide only and it may be difficult to provide this section in it’s entirety.

· When possible use a sans serif font such as Arial, in at least 12 point
· Justify text on the left only (to keep word spacing even)
· Use plenty of bullet points
· Keep blocks of text short
· Use boxes and diagrams
· Avoid sentences or headings in capitals
· Consider using two columns of text (short lines can be easier to read)
· Use wide spacing between characters and lines
· Avoid black text on white paper: tinted paper, eg pale blue, reduces 'glare' and eyestrain 

Website design – This is a guide and you may not have any involvement or influence in this process but you can be aware of the recommendations.

Ensure navigation is easy. A site map is essential
· Keep the layout simple
· Ensure downloaded web pages can be read off-line
· Avoid mobile text. It creates problems for people with visual difficulties.  It also causes a problem for text-reading software
· Offer a facility to change the background and font colours. If this is impossible, use dark lettering on a pale yellow or pale blue background

Further reading - Supporting students with learning difficulties