EQUIPPED

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) launched the Northern Ireland EQUIPPED (Enabling Quality Information Promoting Positive Education Dyslexia) project in 2006. The three-year project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland and offers a training programme for local support groups and community and voluntary groups.

Raising awareness of the complex nature of the learning differences presented by dyslexia and the importance of early identification is essential if those affected are to access much needed support.

Partnership working is an essential element of the EQUIPPED project. The voluntary community and sector organisations that offer more generalised services come into contact with families and adults affected by dyslexia. These partners perform a very important role in sign- posting users to this information service. The process of building a local network of support therefore has significantly increased community access to impartial information, advice and guidance concerning dyslexia.

Adults

Many adults struggle with learning difficulties and this can have a negative impact on their ability to succeed and progress in the workplace. Adults with dyslexia have strengths that make them valuable employees and are now sought after by many employers. They are often lateral thinkers and expert problem solvers coming up with unique, innovative ideas and solutions to problems. Few people with dyslexia are aware that support is available to enable them to develop literacy and numeracy skills, improving their access to information and qualifications that will enhance their life chances.

The EQUIPPED project provides a confidential service that offers impartial information to adults making them aware of local support available enabling them to make informed choices and decisions for themselves. A Code of Practice for employers is available from the BDA, which enables employers to create a dyslexia friendly work environment that will enhance employee’s job satisfaction and productivity.

Education

The revised curriculum introduced into Northern Ireland schools in September 2008 has gone a long way to address the needs of children with mild to moderate learning difficulties in mainstream schools. The whole- school approach to addressing the needs of all learners is reflected in the multi-sensory active learning and teaching methodologies which is at the heart of the revised curriculum.

Connected learning is an aspect of the revised curriculum that will enable many children with dyslexia who are naturally talented holistic thinkers to thrive and achieve. Creating a learning environment that will enable dyslexic learners to achieve will also benefit all children. However there will be children who will continue to need specialist support. The need for teachers with expertise who can identify a child with dyslexia and access support in every school cannot be over emphasised.