Reasonable adjustments in the classroom for learners with dyslexia

Dyslexia is a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010. This means that education providers have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for learners whose dyslexia has a, “substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities." Substantial is defined as ‘more than trivial ‘.

This includes an education provider taking positive steps to ensure that disabled learners can fully participate in their course of study and any other facilities and services provided.

The law does not say what is ‘reasonable’; this allows for flexibility. However, the following adjustments are seen as ‘reasonable’ in a range of education settings:

For all learners:

  • Clarify or simplify written instructions
  • Highlight key information.
  • Break complex information into smaller steps to aid processing and motivation.
  • Ask learners to repeat verbal instructions back to you to embed their understanding and support their weak working memory.
  • Put additional time in place to support speed of processing. This may include extra time to answer questions, complete written work or read text.
  • Provide additional practice to reinforce learning.
  • Use assistive technologies in the classroom to support written output and/or reading skills.
  • Differentiate written text to include more images or diagrams.
  • Encourage the use of coloured overlays to support visual stress.
  • Print hand-outs/workbooks on coloured paper to reduce the contrast of black on white. If unsure of best colour, use yellow/cream.
  • Write keywords or new/technical vocabulary on the smart/white board to support spelling difficulties.
  • Pair peers of different ability levels to review notes, read aloud to each other, write stories, or read maths problems for students with reading difficulties to solve.
  • Seek advice or support from a specialist teacher.

For younger learners:

  • Use pen grips to support handwriting
  • Use adapted keyboards and computer software

For older learners:

  •  Provide a copy of lecture notes in advance
  • Actively encourage learners to use the calendar on their smart phones to remind them of key dates/deadlines etc.

Education providers can find more information about reasonable adjustments from their local authority's SEND team/Local Offer and also by contacting organisations such as National Dyslexia Network.