Olympic champion: Reading bias limits dyslexics' access to tech

Sir Steve Redgrave, Olympic rower, knight and dyslexic, says students aren't getting access to available technology because teachers have reading bias.

Dyslexics now have their own knight to champion their cause, reports the BBC. Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave - a gold medal-winning rower who also happens to be dyslexic - has publicly called on UK ministers to do more to raise awareness of the disability that affects about 4-8% of the population. And, he says, technology has an important role to play in the effort.

Dyslexia is a permanent disability which needs continuous support through schooling, but which is often accompanied by strengths in areas such as creative work, physical co-ordination and empathy with other people.

Redgrave said ministers should educate parents about new audio-video technology, such as the Lexiphone, which acoustically highlights the melodic contour of the speech and could dramatically improve lessons for visually impaired and dyslexic pupils.

Sir Steve challenged the way that reading tends to be regarded as an essential base for all other learning.

"There is an assumption among a lot of educationalists that there is only one way to learn - by reading. More research needs to be done to explore alternative methods such as video. "... I've seen research from America which shows that if students with literacy problems are exposed to learning materials as combined audio and text, their test scores can increase by almost 40%. "This is staggering and it's time everyone knew about it."

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said funding for children with special needs had been increased. "We have always been clear that inclusion is about the quality of children's education and how they are helped to learn, achieve and participate in the life of their school, whether that is a mainstream or a special school," he said. "And we are encouraging local authorities to develop a range of provision to meet children's needs."