Supporting Learning Disabilities Online
Learning disabilities and learning difficulties are not the same thing.
A learning disability is significant and lifelong. It starts before adulthood and affects a person’s development. This means that a person with a learning disability will be likely to need help to understand information, learn skills and live a fulfilling life. Some people with learning disabilities will also have healthcare needs and require support to communicate.
Learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, and hyperlexia can also create complications in daily activities. However, conditions like this don’t affect general intellect. For example, people with dyspraxia may find simple tasks like tying their shoelaces difficult. But this is a coordination and movement barrier, not an intellectual one. Likewise, people with dyslexia may struggle with spelling and reading, but this is not a marker of low intelligence. On the contrary, many dyslexics have superior skills when it comes to analytical and creative tasks.
From the 14th through to the 20th, Recite Me is supporting Learning Disability Week. Join us as we learn more about learning disabilities and how we can help those affected to enjoy more inclusive online experiences.
Learning Disabilities in the UK
Statistics from Mencap suggest that there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. That’s over 2% of the population.
The level of support needed varies on an individual basis, and will depend on the severity of the learning disability and the combination of other disabilities or learning difficulties. It is possible, after all, for someone to have a learning disability and additional conditions. In fact, multiple conditions occur fairly frequently. It’s not uncommon for people with down’s syndrome or autism to have learning disabilities, for example.
People with mild learning disabilities can lead full and independent lives and may only need assistance with things like finding a job and managing money. However, those with severe or multiple disabilities may need full-time care.
Supporting Learning Disabilities Online
People with learning disabilities may not be able to use a mouse, read the words on a website, or find their way around a busy screen. This means they are unable to participate in online activities that can directly affect their quality of life. Examples include:
Applying for jobs
Accessing general information
Communicating with friends and family
Barriers to accessing these services lead to further inequalities, increased vulnerability, and a higher chance of additional stress and mental health problems due to isolation and discrimination.
“It is vital that we understand the needs of people who are excluded from society. It is only by focusing on their needs and rights, and working to remove the barriers they face, that people with learning disabilities will achieve their rightful place in society”.
There are several national charities and organisations that offer support and education to help people with learning disabilities, their parents, and their teachers:
The SCLD is committed to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities in Scotland by giving them a voice and the opportunity to be respected and included. The charity works closely with the Scottish Government to deliver The Keys to Life strategy. Scottish Learning Disability Week 2021, took place from the 10th-16th May. This year, the SCLD highlighted the importance of relationships and having other people in our lives.
Adult learning Wales focuses on the importance of removing barriers for people living with learning disabilities. They provide funding, courses, and support to help more people with learning disabilities into the job market.
The NCLD has been improving the lives of young people with learning disabilities for over 40 years. Their goal is to create a society where everyone is included and provided with the academic, social, and emotional support they need to succeed in life.
The NILD offers a range of one-on-one and small-group courses and workshops, geared towards helping educators understand and better meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.
The Recite Me assistive toolbar removes barriers for people with learning disabilities by allowing them to fully customise a webpage so it meets their individual needs. Features include:
A screen mask to help with focus and concentration.
Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages to negate reading difficulties.
Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud to allow for varying auditory preferences.
Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing, so that the look of the webpage can be tailor-made into the perfect format for every individual.
A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus to help with comprehension.
"The Recite Me tool has been really helpful in ensuring users can browse our websites without the need for specialist accessibility software. The toolbar’s extensive range of features means everyone, no matter what their needs are, can access our information.
Libby Clement, Digital Communications Officer, SCLD
How Accessible Websites Help Charities
Over the last calendar year, Recite Me made over 350,000 charity and not-for-profit website pages accessible. Our data shows that:
On average, Recite Me users view 4 pages of an accessible website per visit, almost double the average internet journey depth of just 2.5 pages per visit.
The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched on average 15,000+ times every month on the websites of national charities and not-for-profits. Smaller and more regional operations recorded toolbar launches of 5,000-12,000 per month.
Over 770,000 individual styling changes were made by users accessing charity and nonprofit sites.
Our translation options were the most popular features on not-for-profit sites, with some websites reporting as many as 20,000 unique translations.
If you’d like more information on how your organisation can improve inclusion by utilising assistive technology, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Together, we can make a positive difference and provide equal opportunities online.
Get Involved in Learning Disabilities Week
The last year has been challenging for many people, and especially so for people with learning disabilities and their families. The theme of this year’s Learning Disabilities Week is creativity, as for many people, getting creative has been a great way to stay active, connected, and positive over the last 12 months.
You can find more information, resources, and activities on Mencap’s Learning Disabilities Week website.