At the beginning on the year Wiltshire College was kindly trialled a ReaderPen and an ExamReader pen at each campus. We trialled using them by identifying students who accessed our Learning Skills and Development Service (LSDS) whom we thought may benefit from their use. We decided to trial them with a few students we knew who struggled with their reading, but who did not necessarily qualify for a reader in their exams, or for those who disliked using a human reader. They were trialled on a variety of ages and abilities across many different courses and across our four main campuses.
Largely the feedback was positive and students who had used them previously commented on how improved they were from the pens of old.
The main positives were; the ease of their use, how they looked fairly inconspicuous i.e. they did not stand out like a human reader would, and that the student felt so much more confident in being able to work independently rather than relying on another human to read for them (which, at times, made students feel self-conscious).
One of the major successes came from our Trowbridge campus whereby three mature students studying hairdressing used them for revision and exams. Having been out of education for some time, Students A, B and C had returned to study a Level 3 Qualification. All three students had struggled previously at school and, although all three were technically and practically very able, they struggled to access the carrier language of the technical exams. They approached LSDS to discuss their needs and the LSDS Assessor advised that the exam reader pen may be a suitable option for them. The students took it in turns to trial both the ReaderPen and the ExamReader pen for accessing class content, revision notes, reading through text books and for practice exams. As the pen became their normal way of working throughout the months leading up to the exam, it was agreed that the students could use the ExamReader in their next exam.
As a result, all students then passed the exam which they had previously failed. Students A, B and C were elated, and their confidence improved tenfold as they were able to demonstrate their true knowledge and subsequently they grew in confidence.
Student A reported –
“The ReaderPen is amazing. I have difficulty keeping information in my brain when I read books and reading with answering questions. This amazing pen helped me free my mind, so I could find the answer that I learned through the year to write the answer down. I would love to invest in this pen to help me read books at home coz I can read a few pages but then my mind stops remembering what was on the previous page. This is a great invention. How would I go about buying or investing in this pen for myself at home to help me for the rest of my future? I am happy anytime to give feedback and reviews of this pen. It is a great product to help dyslexic people. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to use the pen and use it in my hairdressing theory exam coz when I was at school I didn't not do very well with exams and this pen helped me open my mind and pass my exam. I know this reader pen with help other people in colleges and schools and great if it becomes a product to buy for home life too. Thank you very much for letting me test this wonderful product out. It has made me feel I can learn anything when I was using this pen coz I know it would free my mind to pass exams and make information stay in my brain. Thank you again for letting me try this product.”
To summarise, in my opinion, championing assistive technology such as the ReaderPen has to be the way forward if we want to remove barriers and promote confident, independent students who are equipped with the necessary strategies and tools to ultimately be happy and successful adults within our community.
- Alex Tuong, Specialist Co-ordinator for Exam Access Arrangements, Wiltshire College