Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty identified as a developmental challenge with language learning and cognition. It is often associated with a difficulty in accessing or understanding printed text and learning material, which can impede a child’s reading and subsequent learning development. This in turn can have a negative impact on the academic and socio-emotional outcomes of a child.
There are about 300,000 people in Singapore with dyslexia, and about 20,000 are in primary/secondary school.1
Since 2017, Prof. Yow Wei Quin from the Singapore University of Technology and Design has led a research team to work with teachers, therapists and students at a primary school and the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) to understand the language learning process of children with dyslexia. The intent of the research was to use the findings to design and develop an enabling tool that incorporates word recognition technology to aid in understanding plain text, enabling it to serve as a teaching aid and also provide effective reading assistance.
Various observation studies carried out during the students’ lesson time sought to understand more of the reading behaviours of children with dyslexia, while focus group discussions with educational therapists discussed characteristics of dyslexia, existing pedagogy, interventions, use of assistive technology, and challenges faced by people with dyslexia.
Continued studies involved user feedback on a wearable device and a mobile application as an enabling tool. Based on user preference for the app, the research team is now developing the app and testing out the prototype. The mobile app will be an educational and assistive tool to help children read independently by making use of word recognition technology.
As the project develops, it hopes to discover new knowledge on learning processes and experiences for children with dyslexia, leverage assistive technology to bridge gaps in reading performances, uncover potential opportunities in integrating assistive technology in pedagogy, and potentially effect change in guidelines and approaches to teaching children with dyslexia in Singapore.