Introduction

LADS, the forerunner of LADS Plus, was originally designed for, and tested out on individuals, in various post-16 educational settings, including universities, colleges and adult basic education centres. In due course its use has steadily extended to include other settings where there are adults who require screening for dyslexia. These settings include a wide variety of different employment situations and organisations concerned with careers advice and guidance, as well as well as various aspects of the justice system. The latter includes prisons, probation services, youth offending teams and youth offender units and institutions. Feedback from users in these various settings has been very positive and the joint project of the British Dyslexia Association and the University of Hull at Wetherby Young Offender Institution during 2004-05 enabled LADS Plus to be developed to cater more specific for individuals who may have nonstandard educational backgrounds.

Hence LADS Plus has high utility for screening individuals from a wide range of educational and social backgrounds. However, in the some of these settings individuals who have low levels of literacy are likely to be encountered. This is particularly the case with young offenders and prisoners. Working with this client base provides a host of special challenges and it is important to understand and appreciate these in order to provide individuals with positive and productive experience. For many such individuals the experience of being screened using any tool will be new and there is a strong likelihood that the difficulties that they have perhaps experienced over a long period of time have never previously been linked to dyslexia. Coupled with this is the factor that many will feel particularly emotionally vulnerable around the issue of their literacy skills. It is, therefore, important to appreciate such concerns before embarking on a screening process.

A factor that seems to provide the use of the LADS Plus tool with a distinct advantage is that it is computer-based. Although individuals may perhaps have limited, if any, experience of operating a computer it is generally less threatening for them than those tools that require individuals to read or write, particularly those that require an individual to read aloud. This could be due to the fact that it is more socially acceptable to admit to a lack of IT skills than it is to admit to being unable to read or write.