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Learning Differences: Dyslexia


This guide focuses on dyslexia and studying. It includes:

What is Dyslexia?

See Dyslexia Differently by British Dyslexia Association

What is Dysleixa?

Dyslexia is a neurological difference that presents itself as a persistent difficulty with learning reading and writing (dys= difficulty with; lexia= words). It can also affect memory and organisation skills.

Dyslexia does not affect all people in the same way.

  • Dyslexia mainly affects literacy skills such as word recognition, reading, spelling and writing;
  • Some people also have difficulty with comprehension and expression of spoken language, and listening.

It is not caused by low intelligence, background, gender, family problems, emotions or laziness.

While people with dyslexia may face specific challenges, there are some positive aspects. 

What are your strengths?

Image: Made By Dyslexia (2020)

Learning Strategies for Students

These learning strategies might be useful to help you manage your study.

Be creative

Take advantage of your creative strengths

  • Support your memory by using these techniques or these techniques.
  • Try using mnemonics, creating rhymes or songs, and drawing picture and diagrams instead of just writing words. 
  • Use colour to highlight key words or underline key words.
Prepare for class
  • Read written instructions, lecture notes, and assigned texts before class begins.
  • Use the Narrator tool on your device to read your your course material aloud to you.
Break instructions down
  • Break down tasks and assignment instructions into smaller chunks/steps.
  • Rewrite the task using numbered bullet points or a flowchart. 
Note taking
  • Record your lectures on your phone - Just remember to ask your tutor first.
  • Take photos of the whiteboard and review them later.

Reading strategies

  • Use the Read Aloud feature on your device. 
  • Try a Reading Pen - Ask the Accessibility Coordinator about this. 
  • Download a Dyslexia Friendly Plug-In for Chrome, like this reading ruler, to help you keep your place when reading long texts. 
Putting your ideas into writing
  • Make a mindmap of list your ideas and key points before starting to write. 
  • Copy and paste the tasks from your course descriptor into a Word document. 
    • This can help you plan and structure your thoughts.
  • Talk through your ideas with someone before writing them down. 
  • Use the free Dictate feature on your device.
    • This was you can speak your thoughts and your device will type them for you.
  • Use the Narrator tool on your device to read your writing back to you. This can help you hear how it sounds to someone else. 
  • Print your work out and read through it, fixing your mistakes on the paper first and then online.
  • Ask a classmate or family member to proofread your writing.
Book a session with a Learning Advisor
  • Book an appointment with a Learning Advisor for feedback on how to improve your writing and assignments.
Find a study buddy
  • Find a study buddy and work alongside each other 
    • You can help each other stay on track, problem solve together, and have study related conversations

Take a moment: Choose one or two learning strategies to try this week. 

Teaching Strategies for Tutors

The best things you can do to support your students with dyslexia are:

  • Learn more about dyslexia 
  • Get you know your students and their learning preferences. 

Below are some suggested strategies for supporting students with dyslexia. 

Create supportive learning environments
  • Have one-on-one conversations about dyslexia, and normalise learning differences. 
  • Use natural lighting, where possible, or dim lights to reduce brightness and glare. 
  • Incorporate regular breaks. Encourage students to move around and get fresh air. 
  • Allow extra time for students to process information and complete tasks.
  • Allow students to present information rather than writing essays. Provide a range of assessment types. 
  • Provide proofreading support and be tolerant of poor spelling. 
Style Guides 
  • Avoid lots of text on one page.
  • Use plain large fonts, such as San Serif fonts.
  • Use a Dyslexia-Friendly Style Guide to format all written material. 
Give clear instructions and information 
  • Give clear, detailed instructions in unambiguous language in multiple formats (verbal, visual, written).
  • Teach new skills one at a time. 
  • Break tasks and instructions down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • Use numbered bullet points that can be ticked off once complete.
  • Use Moodle to share lecture slides and course resources prior to class.
  • Provide templates and examples for written assignments. 
  • Point out key information through highlighting or underlining.
Present content in different and engaging ways
  • Enhance your verbal communication with visual cues, such as charts, pictures, and videos.
  • Facilitate active and engaging activities suitable for practical learners.
  • Support memory weaknesses by using mnemonics, repetition, visual maps, colour, reviewing prior learning, etc.
  • Have one-on-one conversations with students, and not just whole class discussions. 
  • Teach students how to take notes in creative ways.
  • Summarise what you have covered at the end of each session.
Help with organisation
  • Help students create step-by-step study plans to priorities tasks and organise their time. 
  • Use visual timers and provide reminders of time limits. 
 Assistive Technology
  • Encourage and allow the use of assistive technologies, such as 
  • Using coloured paper and tinted screens could make reading easier for students.

Ako Aotearoa provide professional development for tutors around supporting learners with dyslexia.

Does this sound like you?

Want to check if you might have Dyslexia?

  • Click the arrow on the right to answer some questions.
  • If you answer yes to many of these questions, then you might be experiencing the effects of Dyslexia.

This self-assessment can give you an idea of whether you might have Dyslexia. It shouldn't be used to diagnose yourself. Talk to your Accessibility Coordinator for more information.


  • Do you confuse words that look similar, such as cat and cot?
  • Do you lose your place or miss out lines when reading?
  • Does it take you a long time to read a paragraph?
  • Do you find it hard to read or sound out long words?
  • Do you remember what you read?



  • Do you describe your spelling as bad?
  • Does it take you a long time to write a paragraph?
  • Do you find it hard to organise your thoughts when writing?
  • Does your writing make sense to others?
  • Are you better at presentations than writing essays?



  • Do you get confused when given several instructions at once?
  • Do you have trouble telling left from right?
  • Do you often find creative solutions to problems?
  • Do you see connections and patterns that other don't see?
  • Do you learn best when someone shows you how to do something, or when you get to do it yourself?

Dyslexic Thinking

dyslexic thinking

dis-lek-sik thing-king 


  1. an approach to problem solving, assessing information, and learning, often used by people with dyslexia, that involves pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, lateral thinking, and interpersonal communication. (n.d.)


Congatulations - you have dyslexia!

The New Zealand dyslexia handbook

Made By Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia? by Made By Dyslexia

References & Useful Links

Ako Aotearoa. (2019, October). An introduction to Dyslexia: Supporting learners to achieve their potential [Workshop handbook]. 



Am I experiencing symptoms of dyslexia or Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome by Dyslexia Bytes 

If you want to talk about any information on these pages, please contact Wayne Samways, the Accessibility Coordinator. or 027 218 9180


Thank you to the team at Te PÅ«kenga Weltec Whitireia who gave us permission to adapt and use their guide on Learning Differences