Alongside Dolphin's extensive experience in the world of assistive technology and alternative format provision, our success in the 'Accessible Resources Pilot Project' enables us to make recommendations that have been tried and tested with proven results.
The groundbreaking 'Accessible Resources Pilot Project' ran throughout the 2009/2010 school year working with both dyslexic and visually impaired students and was led by Dolphin following a successful Department for Education tender. Funded by the same UK Government Department, the project tested a new model for providing textbooks and other curriculum materials as Microsoft Word files.
40 pupils from 9 different schools across the North West of England were involved in the trials. 20 of the pupils were dyslexic, and 20 had a visual impairment, being either blind or partially sighted.
"We now have concrete proof that accessible learning materials AND assistive technology have a huge positive impact on the education, inclusion and self-esteem of students with dyslexia."
Noel Duffy, Accessible Resources Pilot Project Lead & Dolphin's MD
All textbooks, worksheets and other curriculum materials were given to pupils in electronic Word format. Each pupil had their own laptop and assistive technology to suit them.
Each student received a laptop,
Evaluated by EA Draffan at the University of Southampton, the project confirms:
"I would rather have books on the laptop because it is much easier... I would rather have my laptop read out to me and I can just listen" (Student)
"When I'm typing stuff I'll spell check it - when I get a word I type it in then I use the speaking software to speak it out to see if I got it right and then I make some changes or something like that - It's weird ... I love it. When I am at home I type something out and push enter and my Mum says who's that speaking and I say that's 'my computer'!" (Student)
"...his reading age has gone up 2 years in the course of the project, the technology has allowed him to access text he would not normally access. All he really needed was the ability to change the background colours and text and he is now an independent worker". (Teacher)
"It makes me feel more confident about doing my work. I'm more confident I'm actually going to get something done. Instead of just sitting there only about reading my own writing and saying listen I just cannot write it, I can just type it up - it's a lot easier - I feel I believe in myself more now than what I did - I just couldn't do it - it's just much better." (Student)
"The impact for the students was noticeable, with their reading and writing skills making
marked progress. For two students, their attendance improved significantly; these students both have a Statement of Special Educational Needs and had had previous EWO involvement for poor attendance." (Teacher)
"I think one of the things that has been useful is having the textbooks and the software on the laptops, they can actually access the materials at home. I think that's been a positive thing and I think again with the age that we are moving to there will be more and more of that. Certainly with the software they need to be able to access the schools intranet from home. We're still working on that, we're not there yet, but again that will make a massive difference because this means we'll have some highly skilled users in house.' (Teacher)
Download the full project report including the project's findings.