It’s really interesting meeting Got to Read students – we’re currently working with students aged 20 to 70+ and they have all had different experiences and backgrounds.
For most of the students, learning to read past traditional school age is a big challenge in it’s own right, but it’s a constant learning curve for us all at Got to Read, hearing about some of the things which cause extra difficulties, because as a reader it’s so easy to take things for granted.
Each time something crops up, we pass the message on to all of our volunteers, just in case there is something useful which can be used with their reading partner.
Here are a couple of examples from the last few weeks. All students names are changed.
The Sight Test
John is in his late forties. We noticed that he was having difficulty seeing texts, although he wears glasses. He said he’d never had a sight test. The glasses are reading glasses which he tried on in a shop to see which ones made the most difference.
John said that he wouldn’t go the opticians because they might ask him to read out letters and he can’t do that yet and thought he’d be embarrassed. I had no idea how opticians do sight tests for adults who can’t read so I called in to his local optician. They explained it wasn’t a problem, for example they often tested patients where English is a 2nd language who needed an alternative. They have a set of tests involving shapes.
John just needed to make the optician aware that he wasn’t confident with letters. He felt reassured by this and immediately booked an appointment.
John also described how letters seemed to move around. We tested him for visual stress and found a coloured overlay which he said improved things for him. Hopefully, the overlay and a correct prescription for glasses, will make a huge difference to his comfort in reading.
The Letter ‘H’
Barbara is also in her forties. She said that she was worried that she said “all of her sounds wrong”. We worked through the alphabet together and ‘H’ was the only sound that gave her trouble. She couldn’t say it or hear it.
So, for Barbara, hearing ‘his’ and ‘is’ are exactly the same thing, which makes her life really difficult when we’re using a phonetic system together for learning to read.
I’ve been spending time looking at online resources which give suggestions of how to get someone making the ‘H’ sound. Think exhalation and turn that into sound!
It’s made me realise how much accents are a part of what we do and I suspect it gets harder hearing different sounds as you get older. Our students don’t have it easy!