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Dyslexia and dissertations

Writing a dissertation is a struggle for anyone – what makes it even more of a struggle is if you’re diagnosed dyslexic.

I’ve always known that I worked slower than other students and found it difficult to concentrate whilst reading and writing. However, my dyslexia was only recognised in my first year of university when I was advised to go to a drop in at the student well-being centre.

If you think you may have dyslexia you should definitely attend on of these drop-ins at the student well-being centre (between 12:00noon and 2PM every weekday). You’ll speak to an adviser who will ask you a simple 20 questions from which they will determine whether you need to go on to be assessed further. In my case, the second assessment took place at a test centre called Dyslexia Action, which is Lincoln city centre. This assessment is more detailed; it tests your logic, reading ability and memory. There are many types of dyslexia and therefore this test determined what I struggled with most and told me how to get you the best help possible. The information gained from this assessment will help to form your needs assessment, which is a document about you and the assistance that you need to help with your studies.

Specialist equipment is provided to students with dyslexia to help them with their studies, for example, you may be provided with a Dictaphone to record lectures or meetings. You could also be given a magnifying bar or a keyboard and laptop stand set up.

With my form of dyslexia I find it difficult to think of what I want to write and type it at the same time. To help with this I was provided with a headset and microphone, (Picture a telesales person or Britney Spears, yes that kind of headset). It feels slightly strange to wear and speak in to at first, but you get use to it. The programme that got installed to my laptop, which the headset connects to, is called DragonDictate. This allows me to say what I’m thinking as the computer types for me, I can then review this text and make any adjustments needed. Read and Write is another computer programme that I had installed, this allows me to highlight texts and have the computer read them out to me. This also allows me to review what I have written to see if it sounds grammatically correct and if I have included the correct punctuation.

All equipment has to be ordered by the student them-self, however if you need help with this the student well-being team and your assigned adviser are always more than happy to help, you just have to book and appointment with them or go to a drop in.

Another form of help that was provided for me was a specific amount of hours with a tutor at Dyslexia Action, where I first had my assessment. My tutor has helped me with techniques to narrow down my ideas. She has also assisted me with working out layouts for my written work, primarily my dissertation this year, as well as proof-reading to find misspelt words or issues with sentence structure and grammar.

People always tell me that I am lucky because I get a tutor who will read through my work and make sure that it sounds ok and there aren’t any mistakes in it. I would like to highlight that although it is great to have someone extra to read through my work, I am not lucky. In my experience dyslexia is an extremely stressful and frustrating disability. Dyslexia isn’t visible so it often isn’t even recognised until later in life when it is too late for people to get help.  Even with help, it takes me more time than most to complete simple tasks like editing parts of my dissertation or referencing.

Going to the drop-in as soon as possible was the best decision I have made at university – if I hadn’t, I know for certain that I would have struggled so much more than I have done. I urge anyone in doubt to go to one of the drop-ins to get tested for dyslexia even if you aren’t sure if you’ve got it, it is well worth checking.

Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to Government advice and the University of Lincoln for the latest information.
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