Here at the OU we have over 2000 students studying with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties such as dyscalculia or dyspraxia. The OU works hard to make our study materials and teaching accessible to all our students, but recognise that there are times when additional advice and / or support may be needed. We hope that the information we provide here will help you to access the additional support available.
Find out about assessment for specific learning difficulties.
Contact your regional or national centre to talk about the services and support you might need.
Everyone has their own individual learning profile and will have different strengths and weaknesses. If you have a specific learning difficulty it is likely that there will be an impact in one or more areas of study.
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The main areas where the impact can be felt are in
Explore the impact of dyslexia on work and study, through the insights of OU student Alex Wise.
Julia Sudbury: I am dyslexic, and at school whenever I wrote essays the marks I got back were about the spelling and the grammar, not about the content and the ideas, so you give up.
Mother: She had a really tough time at school, and it required a lot of courage to actually have another go.
Julia Sudbury: I’d embarked on the OU because it’s just modular units. I told myself I’d do the first one and see how I did. Oh, I did that, I’ll try the second one. Before I knew it I was three years into it and thought, right, I’d better start putting some, you know, let’s have a plan and came out with a first. So yeah, it’s great, brilliant, a brilliant way of doing it.
Man on stage: Julia Sudbury
Mother: I am absolutely thrilled, and I’m a great fan of the OU actually. I think it’s a fantastic institution .
Julia Sudbury: And there was all the support, the disabled student support that I was given, and with the use of IT, people were then marking my ideas and my arguments rather than my spelling and my grammar.
I kind of always knew at school that I wasn’t thick, but you get labelled as thick, and I just … yeah, the confidence to have a go and for dyslexia not to be an issue any more. I think that’s the big thing. I’m much, much more confident at saying to people, “Yes I’m dyslexic, but ignore the spelling and see what’s underneath it.”
You may be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to help you fund study-related support or purchase specialist equipment. If you are DSA eligible the University will only provide study support that cannot be provided by a DSA.
Discuss your learning strategies with your OU tutor or study adviser at the beginning of your module so they have an idea about how to help you. The advisers in your regional or national centre can offer specific advice in relation to your indivudal need. In some instances they are able to arrange for additional sessions in which you can discuss your studying in more depth.
The OU advisers in your local regional or national centre can deal with any queries you might have. Centres are open Mondays to Fridays, 9am - 5pm.
The Evening Advice Line is also available out of office hours
phone 0870 3331444
Studying with dyslexia: this booklet contains lots of useful information to help you in your study.
In addition to the Studying with dyslexia booklet, you will find plenty of relevant information to help you develop your skills on Skills for OU Study.
OU study materials are delivered in a variety of formats, which include books, websites and multimedia. You may have additional study requirements, and the OU can provide
If your preference is for PDF files, you should check the availability and accessibility of PDF files for your subject before you register. Not all PDF files are equally accessible: mathematics, science, music and foreign languages may be particularly difficult to access. Read the module description to see the types of study material included.
You can check the accessible study materials page for more information on the alternative formats that we can provide. If you require more information, contact your regional or national centre.
You may be eligible for a Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) to help you purchase specialist equipment.
If not, the University has some equipment available for loan, such as
Additional arrangements will be made where there is clear evidence of need and the recommendations are approved by the Examination and Assessment Board. Examples of additional arrangements include
Further information, including how to request alternative arrangements, can be found in the main examination arrangements area. Do look at the information as soon as possible as you will need to provide evidence of need and that can take some time.
If your study includes a residential school you may need more support at residential school than you do at home and at work. You may like to consider the use of an assistant whose help could include
The assistant could be
The OU will cover the cost of your assistant's meals and accommodation if you are not eligible for a DSA.
I suffer from Dyslexia, I found an easy way of getting round the problem of reading, and this was simply by getting a competent reader to read what you are trying to learn by recording as an WAV or MP3 file to your computer, and then transfering to a CD or tape. You then play these at your own time, at home, at the office through a personal player with earphones or even in your car whilst driving, and I have found the best time to play the files are laid in bed with the light off and listen whilst you go to sleep as it has bee proved that the brain remembers more whilst at a state of rest, and whilst drifting off to sleep. It works for me, try it for yourself.
When the word processor spell check indicates an error, try to correct it youself rather than use the spell checker correction facilities. This helps improve one's spelling.
Put a post-it note where you can see it, listing all of your modules and intended final goal. Every time you study and each time you feel like giving in, read your note and tell yourself that you are doing this for you, bacause it is what you want. Remain focussed and you will do it!!
I find the default spell checker in Word holds too many words, and you never use most of them. This means that when you misspell a word there are too many options it might be. I make a new dictionary for myself, by adding the words from a few documents (I get someone to check them first). Once the spell checker has been taught the basics, it only takes a short while to add the new words used in a piece of work, and this builds up a good personal dictionary.
Mind maps are useful, but I find that words have to be in colour for me to remember certain things.
To assist revision, use a word processor (or pens) to highlight notes, make headings bold, add bullet points and show different colours.
You can download the Studying with dyslexia booklet or buy a printed copy from OU Worldwide. Registered students can get a copy in print or DAISY from our regional and national centres. The booklet offers suggestions and advice for study strategies.
If you have any queries about a module, finance or the support you would receive, please contact an adviser.
For DSA, examination arrangements, and some other financial or equipment schemes you will need to provide written evidence of additional needs. This evidence is usually a diagnostic assessment or medical report but will depend on the individual situation. As this can take a considerable period of time to arrange it is advisable to think about this well in advance.