IDL Overview for Teachers

IDL has several unique features:

  • Offers the facility to adjust the background and text colours to minimise visual stress
  • Masks incorrect typed responses
  • Incorporates a touch-typing course into a remedial programme
  • Echoes back learner spoken responses via the computer
  • Integrates all of these features into over 1000 carefully graduated exercises
  • Is available to use wherever there is an internet connection
  • Can be used with individual or groups of learners, and  supervised by different members of staff as it’s easy to use

Using IDL

A learner's performance in an initial assessment determines the point of entry on the programme.  

The programme consists of approximately 1000 graduated exercises, commencing with recognition of the alphabet and finishing with comprehension and essay writing tasks appropriate to fluent readers (reading age above 12 years, 6 months), with accurate spelling (spelling age above 12 years, 6 months).

The progression through the programme follows a standard path similar to that defined in any standard phonics-based scheme, eg: Alpha-Omega (Hornsby and Shear, 1993).  Additionally, a touch typing course is woven into the fabric of the exercises.  

A Typical Lesson

  • In the early stages of the programme, pupils will hear words and see them displayed on screen simultaneously.
  • Each line of text is displayed in a different colour (selected at the onset by the learner), to facilitate the training of correct eye-scanning movements.  Incorrect responses cue the computer to say: “Please try again”.  If the word is incorrectly typed at the third attempt, the word is displayed on the screen momentarily.  Three incorrect responses also cue the computer to tell the learner to ask for help. In practise, the finely graduated nature of the exercises rarely makes this necessary.  When a sentence is complete, the computer cues the learner to read back the sentence into a microphone. The system then plays back this input, so the learner hears his/her own voice stating the sentence. The exercise finishes by hearing: “Well done, you did that very well” or similar.

Meares-Irlen Syndrome (Dyseidetic) 

Learners with Meares-Irlen Syndrome (Dyseidetic), will have found it difficult to associate letter, word and sound because print causes them visual stress (Wilkins, 1995).  Their perception of print erratically moving on the page is not conducive for developing reading skills, and consequently they make less than average progress in reading.  If they have no phonological disability their spelling skills are usually in step with their reading, and therefore have no difficulty in developing this once the visual stress is reduced or removed (Jeanes et al., 1996).  

Phonological Problems

In contrast, the learner with phonological problems may develop some reading skills, but has inadequate strategies for decoding new words and learning to recognise spelling patterns (Goswami and Bryant, 1990).  Dysphonetic learners generally have the largest difference between reading and spelling ages.

How are these problems remediated by the IDL Intervention?

  • IDL reduces visual stress for learners with Meares-Irlen syndrome by allowing the learner to select their own print and background screen colour.  The precision with which learners can select colour is increased by the fact that the colour choice area provides many thousands of hues and has the ability to vary the intensity of each.
  • Some learners no longer need to adjust the colour of their screen after using it for several months. This evidence may support Wilkins theory of the stress originating relatively late in the visual processing neural-system (Wilkins, 1995); the implication being that changes in neural processing pathways can take place. This possibility has previously been demonstrated for a number of visual perceptual phenomena (Gregory, 1990).  The alleviation of visual stress combined with a clear graduated and progressive series of exercises explains why Dyseidetic learners achieve the best results with IDL.

Phonological ability

  • The relationship between phonological ability, the ability to detect the component sounds in words and the ability to learn to read and spell is well established (Goswami and Bryant, 1990). It has been established that for the beginning reader, different processes are engaged for reading and writing (spelling).
  • Spelling in particular is impacted by poor phonological ability.
  • Phonological ability has been broken down into two distinct components:

The first component is an ability to distinguish the onset sound and the following string of sound (rime) in a word. This ability is thought to stem from the linguistic capacity to recognise and play with rhyme that most learners develop naturally before starting school.  

The second component is the ability to hear the individual phonemes in speech.  Phonemes can be defined as the smallest units of sound, which in any given language differentiate one word from another; they are subjective and have no physical reality outside of the human brain (Moore, 1989).  When we talk we release a stream of sound; our ability to segment and accord meaning to this stream of sound is a perceptual process that takes place at several levels or organisation within the hearing system.  While some of the processing takes place in the inner ear, much takes place later.

  • When we listen to someone speaking, we subconsciously decode the speech as a series of phonemes; when we learn to spell we must either bring this process to the fore of our consciousness or develop a new conscious analogue to this process.  Learners with phonological problems find this very difficult and typically present a challenge to remedial teachers.  Dyslexics have been found to have a persistent difficulty with the analysis of speech sounds (Hulme and Snowling, 1994).
  • IDL directly tackles phonological awareness, rather than onset/rime awareness.  When the learner sees and hears text simultaneously, and talks back to the system, phonological awareness is developed.
  • Re-reading pulls together the available information to make the sentence (or phrase) whole and clarifies meaning, an important component in remedial reading strategies (Riley, 1966).    
  • The design of the short, finely graduated exercises ensure over-learning and frequent positive feedback.  Particular letter/sound correspondence is secured before moving on.

Blended Learning

As well as in the classroom, IDL Literacy is ideal for remote learning. Click here to view our guide for using IDL at home.


IDL Literacy effectively improves reading and spelling amongst pupils with various literacy problems, removes visual stress by the use of colour, and is very effective overall – particularly with those who have poor phonological skills.  The effectiveness is due to the integration of reading and writing, the integration of visual and auditory cues to teach letter/sound and blend/sound correspondence, a continuum of exercises that start with recognising the alphabet, and the requirement to re-read typed sentences.

IDL can also be used as part of a blended-learning 

Teacher's Thoughts

I definitely noticed a huge improvement with a pupil who has huge difficulties in reading and writing. However, now when he types (anything) I can hear him spelling out the words as he knows where the correct keys are to spell words. He will now be word processing in all his exams and assessments.

Alison Bradshaw, Brownedge St Mary's Catholic High School

I just thought I would let you know that we are very pleased with our new IDL software. The pupils are enjoying it and its simplicity of admin management is very welcome! It is a very useful addition to our support resources.

Alison Reese, St Marys Hall Stonyhurst

Some of the children were very happy when we reassessed them as they could clearly see that they had improved. The children also enjoy receiving the certificates and saw this as another indicator that they were getting better and doing well. The programme greatly improved the confidence of some of our children. Most of the children enjoyed the programme and wanted to see how many lessons they can complete in their time slot. Typing skills have also improved throughout the year. We believe it has had an impact upon many of the children who have used it this year. It has had a greater impact upon the children with lower level literacy skills but has also helped the children with dyslexia within our school.

Amy Flynn, Brabin's Endowed Primary School

“One of my favourite parts of the program is where the children read the sentence into the microphone and listen to it back. I feel it really helps develop their fluency and allows them to see where they can make improvements.”

Claire Edwards, Teacher, Kindergarten Prep Florida

The students at our school have benefitted greatly from IDL Literacy over the years, the multi-sensory approach along with the easy analytical and re-testing tools make IDL a central part of our SEND strategy. Everyone we have contact with at IDLS Group are neverendingly helpful and knowledgeable, they understand the real world challenges faced by schools to implement interventions successfully. Our school was privileged to have an early insight into the IDL Numeracy, our students have engaged successfully with its approach and we saw immediate progress being made. We thank everyone who has supported us, to support our students.

David Marlow, Deputy Headteacher, Etz Chaim Boys School

I just wanted to say how impressed I am with IDL. Many of the schools that I support across the North West seem to be using it now and I’m seeing lots of pupils making real progress when using it.

Dr Ian Corban, Chartered Educational & Child Psychologist/Therapist

I am using the programme with 9 pupils who are working for an hour a week, all the pupils involved enjoy completing the lessons and say they feel more confident trying to spell words in class. They all look forward to spending time on the computer working at their own pace. Thanks for all the support which is ensuring the programme works whenever I log a pupil onto their lessons.

Janette Williams, Corpus Christi Catholic High School

Pupils are really enjoying using the programme. The results with one particularly hard to motivate pupil has been amazing! The TA has grown in confidence too and is looking forward to running the programme for more children next year. It has been good to be able to run the programme with one TA for several children at once. We are expanding the programme to include a wider range of children with reading and spelling problems. I have recommended it to other SENCos at our cluster meetings.

Janina Callery, Carter's Charity Primary School

The increase in reading and spelling ability with our children is noticeable and within a relatively short period of time. However, the greatest benefit has to be the growing confidence, self-esteem and their enthusiasm for learning - I believe the IDL Programme is a complete winner. Long awaited for!

Kairen Jones, Hambleton Primary Academy

The youngest child in our group has made the biggest improvement, although his scores don't reflect this. He was unable and unwilling to read and write without copying and had little knowledge of keyboard skills, he is very able to do all now and I think his self-confidence is helping - the change is remarkable!

Kathryn Butcher, Chipping St Mary's RC Primary School

I am really pleased with the progress the majority of the children have made using the IDL programme. The boost to their reading age in particular, for some of our children will be huge for their confidence when moving on to high school. I also understand that the smaller amounts of progress made are still to be celebrated as this is the start of them making progress in their basic skills.

Lindsay Bidder, Whittle-le-Woods Primary School

We would like to continue with IDL next year as we have found the programme has had a fantastic impact, not only academically but socially and emotionally.

Lucy Whitehead, St. Andrew's C of E, Ashton

The children are really enjoying the IDL programme, and we can already see progress with those who are completing it regularly. The staff who lead the programme are confident with the process, and it is excellent that we can track completion of lessons in school and at home.

Mrs Lucy Neal, Stocks Lane Primary School

IDL Video Guide

IDL Video Guide

This video is an entire walkthrough of the IDL Literacy programme.

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Keep up to date


Online IDL Administration Training

 | 10:00am - 11:00am27.03.2023

IDL Administration sessions cover the basics of IDL Literacy and Numeracy, we show you how to register pupils, create groups, enrol pupils, the student login area, lessons, and how to look at the...

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Online IDL Screeners & MTC Customer Training

 | 10:00am - 11:00am28.03.2023

IDL Screeners & MTC sessions cover registering and enrolling your pupils, scheduling the tests, the screeners & MTC activities, and where to view and export the results. These sessions lasts for...

Read More

Online IDL Administration Training

 | 3:15pm - 4:15pm29.03.2023

IDL Administration sessions cover the basics of IDL Literacy and Numeracy, we show you how to register pupils, create groups, enrol pupils, the student login area, lessons, and how to look at the...

Read More