A decision by the Department of Corrections to have Primary ITO training resources printed on buff-patterned paper will benefit prisoners affected by dyslexia and Irlen's syndrome.
Primary ITO is leading the tertiary sector in recognising and supporting learners with learning differences. This is a major step forward and is a format which could be used by other providers and industry training organisations. It follows ongoing work in the literacy and numeracy space, carried out by people both inside and outside Primary ITO.
People with Irlen's syndrome struggle to look at highly contrasting colours – like stark black text on white paper. International statistics report that at least half of those affected by dyslexia also have Irlen's syndrome. For these people, reading text on paper that is buff-coloured rather than white makes a significant difference. This is a small change, with the potential to make a big difference for Corrections learners, as well as instructors and tutors.
It also sends an important signal that Primary ITO recognises learning differences and is working constructively to support those learners who are affected. More than 200 prisoners are currently enrolled on their programmes.
Feedback from prisoners is powerful.
"I just read a page of writing without getting a migraine," said Jack, a prisoner from Rimutaka, after reading a document printed on buff-patterned paper. "And that is the first time for years."
The driving force behind the change was Vicki Martel (below left), Primary ITO's Sector Adviser for Corrections, with the involvement of many others, particularly including Corrections’ Manager Education Programmes Graeme Couper.
Vicki was inspired to suggest the change after listening to Sarah Sharpe, a dyslexia consultant at a national workshop for education and training providers who provide services to Corrections. Sarah explained that a relatively small change could make a positive impact for learners.
Corrections is proactively addressing the needs of the large numbers of prisoners with learning differences. Around half of Corrections learners are likely to have dyslexia.
Primary ITO's Literacy and Numeracy team has supported learners with dyslexia and Irlen's syndrome for over five years and has led research projects to increase understanding of learning differences in industry training.
Marianne Farrell, Primary ITO's National Manager for Literacy and Numeracy, says the work with Corrections is an exciting step forward.
"It means that we can assist some learners who have struggled unfairly in the past."
Primary ITO's Production and Logistics Centre, led by Michael Ruaburo, has been providing individual trainees with resources printed on coloured paper. However, this is the first time Primary ITO has provided this service for a major corporate client.
Michael says the Corrections resources are printed with a buff-patterned colour as a background form.
"This allows us to merge print job data with the form. As a result, the document looks like it is printed on buff paper."