Dyslexia is a common disability that is getting more attention in recent years. 1 in 5 people have dyslexia, which makes it hard to succeed in classrooms that demand every child be able to read at a certain level and at the same pace as their peers.
Yet, in our technology-centered world, there are no unobtrusive aids to help students with dyslexia. Most of the available products are clunky, drawing attention to the fact that the child using it has “a disability.”
When Kris Parmelee’s middle son was diagnosed with dyslexia, she soon learned the struggles they would face in the classroom. He was often pulled out of class for “special help,” or had to lug around equipment meant for adults with visual impairments.
Not cool, Mom!
Kris’s search for an unobtrusive solution that would allow her son to stay in the classroom with his friends came up empty. Such a solution just didn’t exist.
So, she made one.
Along with partner Mark LaFay, Kris conceived of an app that would read aloud that ONE word a child was struggling with so he could move on. Originally conceived for Google Glass, the app has now also been developed for iOS and Android smartphones. After all, every kid has a phone these days.
The app works like this: a child is reading something, say the instructions on a big test, and comes across a word they aren’t able to figure out. With DCODIA the child can take a picture of the word, sentence, or paragraph and crop it down to the words that are giving him or her trouble. They click “send,” and a few seconds later the word is read through their earbuds.
The paid version of the software also includes word storage, which could be a valuable data point for both individual families and dyslexia researchers.
DCODIA is an elegant solution to a widespread problem. Like I said above, 1 in 5 people have dyslexia. That means many of you have probably struggled with the condition and the stigma that comes with “not being able to read.”
There could be some challenge in adoption because many schools still do not allow kids to use their phones in school, even if the kids are technically allowed to have them. While many high schoolers are happy to flaunt these rules, younger kids have less freedom. Being the one kid allowed to use his phone could be as obtrusive in some situations as current dyslexia aids.
The solution to that problem is–hopefully–only a matter of time, though. It won’t be long before schools begin to utilize the super computers in their students’ pockets.
With adoption obstacles aside, DCODIA is one of those wonderful, change-the-world and help people kind of projects that I’m particularly partial to.
DCODIA is currently in development, and they are crowdfunding on Kickstarter to raise the last bit of money they need.