What’s Herts doing for dyslexic students?

[Raymond Adekolu | Contributing Writer]

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that is very common in the UK, it affects an estimated one in 20 people. It is important to note that dyslexia is not a learning disability; it is a specific learning difficulty. The difference between the two is that learning disabilities affect one’s intelligence and learning difficulties do not.

Some characteristics of dyslexia can include: slow reading and writing, confusion in the order of letters in words, poor spelling, and understanding information when told verbally rather than in written form. On the other hand, people with dyslexia excel in areas such as creative thinking and problem solving.

What support is available for students with dyslexia at the university of Hertfordshire?

The University of Hertfordshire provides Disability Advisers, who are available to discuss and support the needs of dyslexic students. Advisers can be contacted through Student Wellbeing – Disability on College Lane Campus (opening Hours are: Monday – Wednesday 9.00am – 5.00pm, Thursday 9.00am – 7.00pm and Friday 9.00am – 4.00pm and the office is closed on weekends.) Once a student has contacted an adviser, an initial meeting with the student will be arranged to understand what support they may be entitled to and the evidence required in order to receive this support. A Study Needs Agreement (SNA) will be signed by the adviser which will identify the adjustments and support available to you.

What do the dyslexic students themselves think about the support provided by the university?

Second-year History and Philosophy student, Nouha Rakeeb, said: “Dyslexic students can receive extensions on their coursework if required.”

In regards to exams, third-year English Literature, Creative Writing and Journalism student, Lashara Van Heerden, said: “I get 15 minutes extra per half an hour during exams. So a 2-hour exam becomes 2.5 hours. And I get a computer for all my exams. Winning!” She added: “[The University] helps to get your head around what needs to be done and when. By sitting with the support officer, [dyslexic students] commit to a timeline and get into the habit of following through.”

Conversely, there are some things that the University can do to better accommodate the needs of dyslexic students. Nouha noted: “Dyslexic students are not closely monitored.”

Lashara feels that overall, the University provides a good support system, but suggests support groups or buddy systems to give extra support to dyslexic students. She also suggests allowing dyslexic students to talk to lecturers about their difficulties so that they can provide additional support to the students. She adds that dyslexic students may remember lecture material better by recording their lectures with a mobile device, to use later for writing notes.

In addition to the support provided by the Student Wellbeing – Disability services, the University also provides a Peer Mentor Scheme made up of student mentors for students seeking further support. Support can be provided on a wide range of things from proofreading coursework and navigating StudyNet page to deciding which societies to join and how to join them.

For students interested in having a student mentor, please email Graça Martins at: g.m.martins@herts.ac.uk

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