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By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 26th January, 2010 at 1:38pm
The Books for All programme is about learning resources in accessible, alternative formats for people who cannot access standard printed books.
Sometimes this is due to, for example, severe dyslexia, visual impairment, blindness or physical impairment. In these case it is self-evident that the reader can't read a paper book because they either can't see, can't hold the book and turn pages, or just can't read.
But there are also many children and young people who have problems with reading when the cause is less obvious. Maybe they have a language difficulty, or a visual-perceptual problem, or maybe English is not their native tongue.
Or maybe they have never been read to as a child, never been comfortable with print, and have not had enough practice to become a fluent reader. (I read somewhere that you need to practice reading for 5,000 hours to become fluent.)
In these cases, should we try and teach the pupil to read, or should we use, say, audio books or digital books that can be read out by the computer? If we persevere with teaching literacy, will the pupil get frustrated and fall behind in class because they cannot read independently? By introducing books in accessible formats maybe we can prevent this frustration, help the reader be more independent, and at least give experience of language and literature. Maybe if we can encourage pupils to read books in accessible
formats it will help motivate and develop general literacy and actually
help develop reading skills? Maybe the opposite is true: if we give books in accessible formats, will they ever learn to read standard print?
Or should we try to both teach reading and also provide accessible formats so we have the best of both worlds - access to the curriculum and also development of reading skills?
This is a long introduction to a short blog to say that Pearson Education have published some interesting case studies and research reports about their Rapid Reading intervention programme which they say is "an award-winning, Wave 3 reading intervention programme that's been proven to deliver more than twice the normal rate of progress." Of course, there are many programmes and methods which make similar claims (see Dr. Chris Singleton's comprehensive review of teaching methods Interventions for Dyslexia) but the Rapid Reading videos and reports are interesting and well worth a look.
(And if anyone has answers to the questions posed above we'd be really keen to hear them....)