Positive about Dyslexia

This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017, and this year’s theme is ‘Positive about Dyslexia’. The Library has a wide range of support available for students with dyslexia to help you succeed at University.

If you think you might have dyslexia but you have not yet been diagnosed, you can complete QuickScan – an online questionnaire which identifies whether you have any indicators of dyslexia and provides advice on the next steps to take. This is accessed via the Support tab in MyBeckett (under Disability Support).

Students who have dyslexia can register with our University’s Disability Advice service who arrange tailored support on an individual basis. When you have registered with Disability Advice, you can use the Disability Resource Areas in the Libraries. These are comfortable silent study spaces for students with disabilities or dyslexia which contain a range of equipment, including larger desks and PCs with dual monitors.

IMG_20170925_132111595The Library has a wide range of books and eBooks about study skills and disability in higher education, including dyslexia. Look out for some of these on our Dyslexia Awareness Week book displays. There is also a collection of reference books on these topics in each Disability Resource Area.

Students registered with Disability Advice can borrow books for longer and place 10 items on hold at once instead of the usual 5, so you can use the Holds system to have books retrieved for you if you have difficulty locating them on the shelves.

We have an ever increasing collection of eBooks. If you find eBooks difficult to use due to dyslexia, we have information on how you can customise the settings to make them more accessible. This includes changing the text size and colour, changing the background colour, and listening to eBooks in audio format. Eligible students can also have their reading list titles obtained in accessible format through the Library’s Alternative Formats service.

A variety of assistive software is available, most of which is installed on all PCs in the Library. This includes Read & Write, which has tools for reading on-screen text aloud (text-to-speech), advanced spelling and grammar support and applying a digital coloured overlay to your computer screen. You can access a web-based version of Read & Write for Google Chrome off campus. There is also software for mind mapping to help you organise your ideas visually, and we have recently subscribed to Pro-Study software which helps you to collect, categorise and organise research from various different sources. We particularly recommend this for students with dyslexia. You can also use SensusAccess to convert documents into more accessible formats, including audio, so you can listen to them rather than reading. If you’d like to know more about the assistive software available in the Library you can come to a workshop – see our Software page for further details, and if you are looking for free software and apps we have several recommendations.

If you prefer to read printed text on a coloured background, coloured paper for printing is available on request free of charge at the Advice Point on the ground floor of each Library. You can choose from six different colours.

For help with study skills including academic writing, Skills for Learning offer online resources, workshops and tutorials.

Photo of SueStudents with disabilities or dyslexia can book a one-to-one appointment with the Library’s Learning Support Officer (Disability and Dyslexia) for help with a wide range of disability related issues in the Library, including using Library resources, assistive software, equipment and more. You can also contact Library staff for advice by phone, email and online chat.

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Making eBooks more accessible – latest news

We told you in a previous post about a project to audit and improve the accessibility of eBooks, which has now been completed. Sue Smith and Vicky Dobson from Library Disability Support worked on the eBook Accessibility Audit project as part of a team from across the UK. This also included Jamie Phillips from Leeds Beckett University, and colleagues from the University of Kent, the University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and York St John University.

NAG ebook awardWe’re thrilled to tell you that the project has won the 2017 National Acquisitions Group award for Excellence sponsored by Nielsen Book. The project was also shortlisted in the Project Initiative Category for the 2017 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing.

eBooks are digital versions of printed books and the Library has lots of them available. There are many advantages to eBooks. For example they are available both on and off-campus and most titles can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.

The eBook Accessibility Audit looked at how accessible eBooks are for students with print impairments – difficulties accessing printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment or a Specific Learning Difficulty such as dyslexia.

Although eBooks have the potential to be very accessible and if they are compatible with assistive software they can be adapted to the needs of individual students, unfortunately, due to the design of some eBooks, this is not always the case and they are not all fully accessible.

The eBook audit set out to identify how accessible 44 of the most widely used eBook platforms in UK Higher Education are, including 15 of the platforms we subscribe to at Leeds Beckett University.

The results are now available on the eBook Accessibility Audit website. If you would like to know how accessible a particular eBook collection is, the Individual Platform Feedback Reports section of the website has a report for each platform detailing how well it met each of the accessibility criteria. The table on page 6 of each report gives a useful overview of this.

If you’re wondering what makes an eBook accessible, you can find out here: Key elements of eBook accessibility

The next steps in the project are to work with providers to achieve improvements in accessibility and increase awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst Library staff to help them support students using eBooks.

 

Promoting diversity by making eBooks more accessible

Earlier this month Sue Smith and Vicky Dobson, who work in the Library Disability Support Team, traveled to London to attend the presentation of the 2016 CILIP CDEG Diversity Award. They had been shortlisted for this award as part of a team from across the UK currently coordinating a national eBook Accessibility Audit. The team also includes colleagues from the University of Kent, the University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and York St John University.

eBooks are digital versions of printed books and the Library has lots of them available. There are many advantages to eBooks. For example they are available both on and off-campus and most titles can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.

The eBook Accessibility Audit is looking at how accessible eBooks are for students with print impairments – difficulties accessing printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment or a Specific Learning Difficulty such as dyslexia.

eBooks have the potential to be very accessible. The flexibility offered by their electronic format means that, if they are compatible with assistive software, they can be adapted to the needs of individual students. Unfortunately, due to the design of some eBooks, this is not always the case and they are not all fully accessible. For example, in some cases the text can only be enlarged to a limited extent or it may be incompatible with screen reading software, making eBooks inaccessible to many disabled students. Accessibility also varies between different eBook platforms (interfaces used to access eBooks).

The ultimate goal of the eBook Accessibility Audit is for students with print impairments to face fewer barriers in accessing the information they need to succeed at university. The project aims to achieve this by:

  • Assessing the accessibility strengths and areas for improvement of different eBook platforms
  • Working with providers to achieve improvements in accessibility
  • Making information available on the accessibility features of different eBook platforms to help users optimise accessibility when reading them
  • Increasing awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst Library staff to help them support students using eBooks
  • Increasing awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst tutors to help them minimise barriers for disabled learners when designing resource lists

Although they didn’t win the Diversity Award, Sue and Vicky received a Highly Commended certificate on behalf of the eBook Accessibility Audit project team. They are pictured receiving the certificate, along with fellow project team member Alistair McNaught from JISC:

diversity-award-2016

Whilst Sue, Vicky and other colleagues work with providers to achieve improved accessibility in the design and publishing of eBooks, there are lots of ways in which people using eBooks can customise them to make them easier to read. These include changing the text size and colour, changing the background colour, and having the text read aloud to you. Instructions on how to do this are available on the eBooks Accessibility page.

If you have any queries about using eBooks, please contact us.