Finalist category: BT Young Pioneer Award
BT Young Pioneer Award, Winner, 2017
Multi-sensory learning technology aids children with dyslexia
“They have used their technical knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to design and make a device that helps children who are struggling to learn because of dyslexia,” said Sean Connolly, the teacher of two year ten girls from a Killian’s College in Northern Ireland.
“Their achievement shows other young people how digital technology can be used to solve everyday day problems in a fun and exciting way. And, it also shows that girls are just as good as boys, when it comes to using technology to help others.”
Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown from Killian’s College created the Dyslexic Aid, with a very limited budget, by using a Raspberry Pi computer.
Researching their prototype, the students worked closely with a group of dyslexic children and their special educational needs coordinator, finding out what support and programmes were already out there. To help them with programming the aid using Python, they spoke to experts at the University of Ulster in Jordan’s Town. The British Dyslexic Association also helped them understand the best approaches are for teaching pupils with dyslexia.
The Dyslexic Aid brings together all this research. It creates a multi-sensory learning environment stimulating a person’s different senses to help them learn. The aid is designed to help dyslexic pupils better understand the alphabet, write letters and spell basic words.
After analysing their own data and data from other dyslexia organisations, they designed and made a working prototype using a Raspberry Pi Computer and a Sense Hat (an add-on board, that includes a range of different sensors and flashing LED lights). The innovative device allows users to see letters, hear them, write them and say them.
The Dyslexic Aid has incredible potential and could have a massive impact on the lives of many children and young people struggling with dyslexia.
At the moment, it’s still a prototype and needs more development to make it more useable and comfortable to hold and suitable for different age groups. These dedicated young people are working hard to make this a reality.