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About Units of Sound

units-of-sound-working-logo croppedUnits of Sound was originally created for Dyslexia Action in the United Kingdom by Walter Bramley, a reading specialist with expertise in a number of reading remediation programs. Bramley drew upon the extensive understanding he gained from teaching students with reading problems to create Units of Sound. One of his primary objectives was to create a program that was effective but also suitable and appealing to students aged 8 and older. Units of Sound was the outcome. Dyslexia Action has built upon and continued to develop what the late Walter Bramley created.

Units of Sound has been used to support literacy development in the armed forces in Britain and in the country’s prison system.

Units of Sound is used extensively in schools across the United Kingdom and in the Dyslexia Action centres.

Units of Sound addresses the five major components of an effective literacy program identified by the National Reading Panel in the United States in its 2000 review of 100,000 studies: 1) Phonemic Awareness, 2) Phonics, 3) Fluency, 4) Vocabulary and 5) Text Comprehension. The program reinforces writing skills, including capitalization and punctuation.

How does Units of Sound Work?

  • Units of Sound teaches reading (with an emphasis on decoding), spelling and writing.
  • Instruction is separated into skill modules or areas: Reading, Spelling, Memory and Dictation
  • Separate placement tests exist for reading and spelling. Many students do not have the same skill levels in these areas and the placement tests are designed to determine the level where they should begin instruction.
  • Students are placed where they are working comfortably, not where they are struggling.
  • No spelling rules are taught overtly. The focus is on teaching auditory and visual patterns rather than individual words. The only exceptions are irregular words which are dripped into the program when they are needed or are similar to the patterns on the page where the student is working.
  • Units of Sound is structured so that content is reviewed and reinforced. The memory exercises are based on content that was presented approximately 10 “pages” before the current level of spelling. Dictation exercises, which require a student to practice both spelling and writing, focus on material that is 2 “pages” behind content presented in the Dictation module.