Media Release: ‘Bright vision’ for dyslexic students

STUDENTS who have been diagnosed as having dyslexia are to be given
special tests to see if their learning difficulties are being compounded
by eye problems which make it harder to read.

The Heriot-Watt programme of mass testing aims to identify a range of
visual problems called Binocular Instability (BI) which might be making
studying even harder for students already struggling with dyslexia.

Optometrist, Dorothy Crystal, who has specialist training, is working
with the University to identify and test students who might suffer from
BI, which is not picked up by standard eye tests.

“There are 200 students at Heriot-Watt who are registered dyslexic, and
the University will be offering them a questionnaire to identify those
who might also be suffering from BI. Those students will be offered an
opportunity to come and see me for specialist tests which can identify
conditions which are not generally identified by the standard eye tests.

“It may be that we find some dyslexic students whose difficulties are
made worse by BI, or others some of whose range of dyslexia-associated
symptoms may actually be visually-based. These can include difficulty in
dealing with print which is black-on-white or vice-versa, as in the use
of white boards, and something as simple as use of a coloured gel to
read through can make it much easier for them to cope.

“There are countries where such testing is far more common in children
with learning disabilities, but I have to congratulate Heriot-Watt on
taking this initiative in support of all of their dyslexic students.”

Sandra Sabiston, Heriot-Watt’s disability adviser, said: “We have
already referred the first group of students to Dorothy for specialist
eye tests, and eventually hope to offer questionnaire screening and
where appropriate eye tests to all of our students who are registered as
having dyslexia.

“University life and learning can be challenging enough for any student,
and if we can identify a way of making it easier for any of our dyslexic
students then we are delighted to be able to do so.”

For further information please contact:
Caroline Dempster
Press Officer
Heriot-Watt University
Tel: 0131-451 3443

Issued 28 March ’07

Caroline Dempster
Press Officer
Heriot-Watt University
Tel: 0131-451 3443

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Contact: Caroline Dempster
Phone: 0131 451 3443