Self Advocacy in Three Parts: 2 - Know Your Needs

Self Advocacy Part two banner know what you need Headstrong Nation #weownit

Self Advocacy in Three Parts: Part Two - Know your Needs

If you are an adult with dyslexia or another LD, and you've obtained a formal evaluation, you may have a very clear idea of what types of supports you may need in an academic setting or on the job. If you have not obtained a formal evaluation, you may still have a pretty good idea based on the struggles you experience and how they impact on your life. Are you overwhelmed with the amount of text and reading requirements that you have on the job? Do you struggle with spelling or getting your thoughts down on paper in email correspondence or in report form? You may have developed some daily work-a-rounds too, in an attempt to manage at home, but perhaps you haven't explored using these same tools at the workplace or in your college classes.

Assistive Technology can help

Many dyslexics find the use of assistive technology valuable. Assistive Technology, or AT, may be defined as any item, piece of equipment software product or system which is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability. It does not include a medical device which is surgically implanted or the replacement of such a device. Assistive technology can be low tech, moderate or high tech. A highlighting pen is an example of a low tech choice, a moderate or high tech tool might be an electronic spell checker or speech recognition software.

Some adults are unsure of where to start with assistive technology and are reluctant to embrace it. If you are interested in exploring assistive technology and learning how it may be of help to you on the job or in the higher ed setting, visit Jamie Martin's Assistive Technology website HERE.

Try this exercise. Jot down any tools that you currently use that help you to manage on a daily basis. This might be a spell checker, a built in text to speech on your phone or another item. Also jot down any tools you may have seen or heard about but havent tried yet that you'd like to explore. A sample list might look like this:

  • I find it easier to record notes in the class or at business meetings.
  • I find I work best with digital notes in doc. form that I can refer to and a text to speech product with.
  • If notes are in PDF form, the use of an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) app or scanner is helpful to me to prepare text for text to speech.
  • I find it easier to jot down key points and graphics when I take notes in meetings or in lectures so a note taking device like a note taking pen might be helpful.
  • I need to sit in the front of the meeting room close to the presenter or in the front of the class during a lecture for better focus.
  • Background noise really bothers me, so the use of noise cancelling ear-buds or headphones would help me to concentrate on my work.
  • A Screen Reader and/or text to speech software program would help me to access text more efficiently.
  • Calendar apps on my phone and desktop help me to stay organized.
  • A voice to text program for professionals might help me to effectively keep up with email and written correspondence on the job or to write papers for class.
  • Spell checkers, word prediction software and grammar checkers would help me to function best.
  • Apps to help me to stay on task (timers, etc...) might help to increase my productivity.
Getting clear about how you learn best and which supports and tools can help you perform best is extremely valuable. As adults with dyslexia/LD, we may need some assistance in the form of accommodation and tools, for those areas in which we struggle, but we must also remember that we have great strengths too. One way to get in touch with your particular strengths and attitudes surrounding dyslexia is to complete Headstrong Nation's Strength and Attitude Assessments . Below is a graphic of a sample strength star showing high social and visual skills based on responses to the assessment.
Graphic example of Headstrong Nation Strength Star result  showing skills such as musical, verbal, mathematical, spatial, etc...
In Self Advocacy in Three Parts: Part Three, Getting What you Need, I'll discuss some ways to start a conversation with your employer or your professors, to help you to get what you'll need to be a successful employee or student.

Recommended Resources:

Jamie Martin's Website -

Headstrong Nation's Strength and Attitude Assessments -

Self-Advocacy in Three Parts: Part One - Know Thyself -

Self-Advocacy in Three Parts: Part Three -Getting What you Need -

We'd like to invite you to donate to Headstrong Nation to help us to fulfull our mission for the adult dyslexic. DONATE HERE

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