Kent Dyslexia Friendly Libraries
Libraries & Archives Best Practice Guide
This document was prepared to help ensure we offer a fully inclusive service for people with dyslexia. It is aimed at Libraries and Archives staff and partners and demonstrates what we and others are already doing. It offers a best practice approach to the development and delivery of our service to adults and children with dyslexia.
Introduction-What is dyslexia?
- The word 'dyslexia' comes from the Greek and means 'difficulty with words'.
- It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects.
- It is characterised by difficulties in processing word-sounds, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities.
- It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effects can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.
- About 10% of the population is affected by dyslexia to some degree.
- Dyslexia tends to run in families; it is known that there are several genes that contribute to a genetic risk of dyslexia.
- Brain scanning studies suggest that, in dyslexic people, the connections between different language areas of the brain do not work as efficiently as they should.
- Many dyslexic people have strengths and abilities in tasks that involve creative and visually-based thinking.
- Differences are not linked to intelligence.
- Dyslexia is life-long.
- Dyslexia varies in severity and often occurs alongside other specific learning difficulties, such as Dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Disorder, resulting in variation in the degree and nature of individuals’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Reading hesitantly
- Misreading, making understanding difficult
- Difficulty with sequences, e.g. getting dates in order
- Poor organisation or time management
- Difficulty organising thoughts clearly
- Erratic spelling
- Innovative thinkers
- Excellent trouble shooters
- Intuitive problem solving
- Creative in many different ways
- Lateral thinkers
We hope that the guide will inform and inspire so that we can all contribute to making a real difference for this particular group of customers.
People with dyslexia come within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act. All local authorities have a duty to promote positive attitudes between disabled and non-disabled people (Disability Equality Duty 2005)
What we are doing in Kent libraries
- 5 years’ membership to the BDA.
- Working towards dyslexia friendly libraries.
- Tinted paper available for photocopying and printing.
- Exempt status - does not incur overdue fines and free Spoken Word books.
- Reading stands at main town centre libraries.
- Overlays and coloured rulers available in each district.
- AbilityNet software available on all staff and public access computers. See appendix 1.
- Working in partnership with the West Kent Dyslexia group, have made contact with South Kent and East Kent groups.
- Dyslexia friendly collections housed in each district.
- Homework clubs with special resources including pen holders, electronic dictionaries and overlays.
Dyslexia Friendly Criteria When Recommending Books
Dyslexia Action Dyslexia has selected books as dyslexia-friendly when they meet most of the following criteria:-
- Are of interest to the reader and relevant to his/her age - reluctant and slow readers need to have their imaginations engaged and their efforts rewarded.
- Are well structured and easy to follow – simplicity of information and syntax make it easier to follow the story.
- Use vocabulary familiar to the reader - dyslexic readers often have a limited sight vocabulary.
- Have short sentences and paragraphs – these help to maintain interest and encourage a feeling of progress.
- Are well laid out on the page with wide margins and plenty of white space – these encourage the reader to maintain a good reading flow and pace.
- Have the right margins unjustified – justified text may look neat but with an unjustified text it is easier to distinguish between lines read and those yet to read.
- Have headings, bullets and other signposting where appropriate - these help the reader navigate the content more easily.
- Have pictures with captions, callouts and boxed text where relevant - these act as signposts and help to break up the main text into manageable chunks.
- Are printed on tinted paper – this helps to reduce the resonance of black text on bright white paper. Avoid light text on a dark background. Matt paper is preferable to glossy paper, as this reduces glare. Ensure the paper is heavy enough to prevent text glaring through from the back.
- Are printed in a clear sans serif font that is kerned so that the letters are easily distinguishable - some fonts are very ornate and some have letters that join together to form another (such as an r and n that join to look like m) which can be very confusing.
- Have a minimum print size of 11 pt - but also not insultingly large for the intended age range.
- Above all they should look like books that anyone would enjoy reading - well written, well designed and interesting.
How to find Dyslexia Friendly Books
- Barrington Stoke books are for children and young people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. The books have cream paper, well-spaced text and an easy to read font. There are books for 8 to 13 year olds and others aimed at 13 to 16 year olds. The website also holds a complete listing which can be checked against Kent Libraries and Archives catalogue for locations of titles. They also produce a very useful information pack for parents, teachers and librarians which can be downloaded. http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk
- Guide to choosing Dyslexia-Friendly Books for Kids. Waterstones and Dyslexia Action- are working together to make reading enjoyable for everyone. They have produced a guide which includes signs of dyslexia, how to support children with their reading, and how to choose dyslexia friendly books. There is also a suggested reading list. This leaflet can be downloaded > http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/uploads/DyslexiaGuide.pdf
- RIF’s recommended book list for less confident and less keen readers ages 5-13+ http://www.rif.org.uk/projectzone/resourcesBooks.htm
- Young Calibre is a free postal library bringing all the fun of audio books to anyone under 16 who has a visual impairment, or has dyslexia or a physical disability which makes it difficult to read ordinary print. There are lots of fantastic audio books to choose from. The audio books are on MP3 format disks and those with sight problems have the additional option of audio cassettes. http://www.calibre.org.uk/modResourcesLibrary/HtmlRenderer/aboutyoungcalibre.html.
- Listening Books, a charity which provides a postal audio book service to anyone who has a disability that makes it difficult to read in the usual way: http://www.listening-books.org.uk (subscription).
- Keeping Informed of Dyslexia Services (The kids)-write books for children with Dyslexia. The Sword of Davalon is the first book by Tom Jolleys published by The Kids Press .Its layout has been specially designed to make it dyslexia friendly. Aimed at children in the age range of 8 to 12 the layout should also make it easier to read for all children including those with poor eyesight. Very simply, they have tried to make the printed word just easier to see and therefore read. http://www.dyslexiakids.co.uk/
Ten dyslexia friendly books (From WikiREADia- Specially selected by Dyslexia Action)
- Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce £5.99 Macmillan
- Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson £12.99 Doubleday
- Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo £10.99 Harpercollins
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne £10.99 David Fickling
- Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan £4.99 HarperCollins
- The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer £3.99 Puffin
- The Twits by Roald Dahl £4.99 Puffin
- The Temple of the Ruby of Fire by Geronimo Stilton £3.99 Scholastic
- Judy Moody by Megan McDonald £3.99 Walker
- The Sheep-Pig, Dick King-Smith £4.99 Puffin
Children with dyslexia in fiction. (Based on booklist produced by Birmingham City Libraries)
- Breslin, T - Whispers in the Graveyard
- Childs, Rob - Moving the Goalposts
- Fine, Anne - How to Write Really Badly
- Goodhart, Pippa – Flow
- Jarman, Julia - Ghost Writer
- Riordan, Rob - Battle of the Labyrinth
- Wilson, Jacqueline - The Illustrated Mum
Non-fiction –exploring ways of coping with dyslexia
- Condon, Judith - When It's Hard to Learn
- Edwards, Nicola - My Friend Has Dyslexia
- Ryden, Michael - Dyslexia: How would I cope?
- Sanders, Pete - What Do You Know About Dyslexia and Associated Difficulties
- Spillsbury, Louise - What Does it Mean to Have Dyslexia?
- Wiltshire, Paula - Dyslexia
Biographies of Famous People with Dyslexia
- Alcraft, Rob - Anita Roddick
- Alcraft, Rob - Richard Branson
- Brown, Paul - Anita Roddick and the Body Shop
- Connolly, Sean - Leonardo da Vinci
- Ganeri, Anita - Thomas Edison
- Langley, Andrew - Hans Christian Anderson
- Lynch, Wendy - Walt Disney
- Mason, Antony - Leonardo da Vinci
- Middleton, Haydn - Thomas Edison: The Wizard Inventor
- Reid, Struan - Albert Einstein
- Twist, Clint - Charles Darwin, On the Trail of Evolution
- Wilkins, Verna - Benjamin Zephaniah: A Profile
- British Dyslexia Association- Vision is of a dyslexia friendly society that will enable all dyslexic people to reach their potential. Their main aims are to encourage schools to work towards becoming dyslexia-friendly. To reduce the number of dyslexic young people in the criminal justice system and to enable dyslexic people to achieve their potential in the workplace. http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
- Dyslexia Action - A national charity and the UK's leading provider of services and support for people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties. Specializing in assessments and tuition for adults and children, and supplying specialist teacher training courses and workplace consultations. Services are available from 26 centres around the country. http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/
- Dyslexia Research Trust- Covers everything you need to know about dyslexia including research and dyslexia clinics. http://www.dyslexic.org.uk/index.htm
- Being Dyslexic –website providing a range of information for people of all ages and situations who are either dyslexic or interested in dyslexia. Everything on Being Dyslexic is free and accessible for anyone to use and share. Being Dyslexic also hosts one of the largest dyslexia community forums on the internet. http://www.beingdyslexic.co.uk/
- South Kent Dyslexia Association Based in Ashford -a support group for anyone with an interest in dyslexia. Holds talks on topics of interest in dyslexia and is affiliated to the British Dyslexia Association. 01233 850273 http://www.southkentdyslexia.org.uk/
- Kent West Dyslexia Association Information and phone helpline service for the community of the Sevenoaks Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells area. Affiliated to the British Dyslexia Association. http://www.kwda-dyslexia.org.uk/index.php?inc=about
- Dyslexia East Kent Support –DEKS-a local support group providing information and support to people with dyslexia of all ages. http://www.dyslexia-east-kent.org.uk
Appendix 1: Library Offer
How we can help you with your dyslexia
- A card for people with dyslexia which allows you to borrow book for three weeks with no late fines. Just ask at any Kent Library for more details.
- Talking books can be borrowed free of charge
- Free requests: adults and young people can order books and talking books free of charge
- Free printouts and photocopies on tinted paper
- Books on dyslexia and books for adults and young people struggling to read.
- Free computer access for one hour every day in any of our libraries. (Under 16s need parental permission to use the internet) with software to support planning, reading and writing.
- Online resources: information on health, careers and a great deal more!
- Dyslexia resources and aids to help with reading and writing
- Homework clubs with special resources including pen holders, electronic dictionaries and overlays
For more information contact Liz Taylor on 01622 696512 or email email@example.com
Appendix 2: AbilityNet software available on all staff and public computers
- FreeMind is a mind mapping programme which can help individuals think, plan and learn visually. Mind mapping can be a useful way to plan ideas, essays or projects and to help organise your thoughts in a visual way.
- RapidSet an easy-to-use program which allows you to change font and background colours for those people who find the default white background and black text on a computer screen difficult to read.
- TheSage is an English dictionary and thesaurus which offers a range of meanings. TheSage can help individuals with specific learning difficulties or those with literacy or language support needs.
- Vu-Bar is usefully for readers who have difficulty with large amounts of text on a page. It is similar to placing a ruler over the lines of text in a document. It can be used for reading web pages, emails and documents.
- DSpeech text-to-speech and text-to-MP3 converter) can import a wide range of text-based files in different formats, read them aloud, highlight words as they are read, and convert the output to MP3 format for maximum portability.
- AMIS: DAISY Reader A software programme reading Daisy Digital talking books.
Appendix 3: Making our information more accessible - British Dyslexia Association 2008
- Fonts should be rounded, allow for space between letters, reflect ordinary cursive writing and be 'easy on the eye'. Look for a font that spaces letters rather than running them closely together. Bear in mind that fonts that have unusual shaped letters can create difficulties.
- Select sans serif fonts such as Arial or Comic Sans. Other suggestions include Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, Trebuchet and Sassoon. Information on Sassoon is available at http://www.clubtype.co.uk
- Use a minimum of size 12pt or 14pt.
- Where possible use lower case letters rather than capitals. Using capital letters for emphasis can make text harder to read.
- Don't write sentences entirely in capitals; this infers that the reader is being shouted at.
- Avoid light text on a dark background.
- Use coloured paper instead of white. Cream or off-white provides a good alternative.
- Matt paper is preferable to glossy paper, as this reduces glare.
- Ensure the paper is heavy enough to prevent text glaring through from the back. Good quality 80 or 90 gms is effective.
- Presentation can make a big difference, both to readability and initial visual impact.
- Limit lines to 60 to 70 characters. Lines that are too long or short can put strain on eyes.
- Use line spacing between paragraphs to break up text.
- Use wide margins and headings.
- Use of boxes for emphasis or to highlight important text can be effective.
- Avoid dense blocks of text by using short paragraphs.
- Use bold to highlight. Italics, or underlining can make the words run together.
- Keep lines left justified with a ragged right edge.
- Use bullets or numbers rather than continuous prose.
- Don't hyphenate words that are not usually split in order to fill up line ends, e.g. "oper - ation".
- The space between lines is important. Recommendations suggest a leading (space) of 1.5 to 2 times the space.
- The way in which text is written can have an impact on the reader. Long and complicated sentences can be difficult for the reader to navigate and comprehend.
- Write in short simple sentences.
- Be conscious of where sentences begin on the page. Starting a new sentence at the end of a line makes it harder to follow.
- Try to call the readers 'you'; imagine they are sitting opposite you and you are talking to them directly.
- Give instructions clearly. Avoid long sentences of explanation.
- Some additional hints from The Plain English Campaign http://www.plainenglish.co.uk
- Stop and think before you start writing. Be clear what it is you want to say.
- Use short words where possible.
- Keep your sentence length down to an average of 15 to 20 words.
- Use active verbs as much as possible. Say 'we will do it' rather than 'it will be done by us'.
- Be concise.
When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about the reading level of the document, including the following readability scores. Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.
To set your spell checker to automatically check readability, go to Tools, Options, Spelling, and Grammar, then tick the Readability request. Word will then show your readability score every time you spell check.
Flesch Reading Ease score:
- Rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 70 to 80.
- Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score.
- Rates text on a U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 5.0 means that a fifth grader, i.e. a Year 6, average 10 year old, can understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 5.0, by using short sentences, not by dumbing down vocabulary.
Posters, boards and leaflets.
- Keep the design of leaflets simple. Background graphics can make text difficult to read.
- On leaflets or posters about events, keep essential information about time and place grouped together.
- On boards and posters, print lowercase rather than using joined writing.
Everyone processes information in a different style. It is important to consider this when presenting ideas and concepts. Some people might find it easier to access a long and wordy explanation whilst others may prefer an alternative style. For example:-
- Flow charts are ideal for explaining procedures.
- Pictograms and graphics help to locate information.
- Lists of 'do's and 'don'ts' are more useful than continuous text to highlight aspects of good practice.
- Provide a glossary of abbreviations and jargon.
- Include a contents page at the beginning and an index at end.
There are a number of points to bear in mind when preparing information for use with text readers.
- Full stops after headings to make the voice pause and drop in tone.
- Semi-colons, commas, or full stops after bullet points in order to separate each point.
- Number menu items to aid navigation.
- Don't write words in capital letters in mid-line, as they may be read as single letters.
- Include as few signs/symbols as are absolutely necessary, e.g. asterisks or slashes, as these will be spoken.
- Consider whether abbreviations and acronyms need full stops.
- Screen readers may have difficulty with tables. They read down each cell, going across the page from left to right.
Elizabeth Taylor Service Development Librarian, Supporting Independence and Diversity Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org 01622 696426
Gillian Lawrence Lifelong Learning Manager Contact details: email@example.com 01622 605219
Christine Heald Service Development Librarian, Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org 01303 715901
Date: 30th December 2009