A website developed by a science student is helping people with dyslexia to maximise their reading speed and minimise errors.
The new social enterprise start-up — [url=https://www.dyslex.ie/]Dyslex.ie[url], claims it can improve the reading abilities of people with dyslexia by up to 50%.
According to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland, dyslexia affects about one in 10 people and is one of the most common learning difficulties.
Computer science student Kevin Cogan created the platform so it can be adapted to suit an individual’s needs.
The software can be downloaded as a Google Chrome extension so that dyslex.ie can be used across all sites and online scripts.
Mr Cogan wants to make the platform’s premium features free of charge to all Irish universities because of the challenges remote learning will put on students during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way we learn, work, and engage with one another,” he said.
Premium subscriptions allow the use of line focus mode, syllable splitting, and paragraph deliniation as well as other features.
There is a free 10-week trial for all users. The cost of individual plans starts from €2 a month, with annual subscriptions available from €6.
“This means there are no hefty diagnostic fees or waiting lists to get help,” said Mr Cogan.
“Users can start increasing their reading speed with the click of a button.”
Dyslex.ie invites new users to take part in a survey to find out how best to accommodate their needs.
Features include changing the size and the colour of the page, the number of words on a line, and the background colour.
The business start-up has secured funding from Enterprise Ireland, the Social Innovation Fund, and from winning Citibank’s Pathways to Progress programme.
Dyslex.ie was also a leading project in Enactus DCU, which was placed first at this year’s Enactus National Competition, which encourages entrepreneurial projects that have a positive impact on their communities.
Dyslex.ie and Enactus DCU will represent Ireland at this year’s Enactus World Cup in September in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Mr Cogan and two other students from DCU run the company but it has been in the pipeline for years.
Two of Mr Cogan’s friends in secondary school were dyslexic and they showed him dyslexia-friendly books and explained about background colour preferences.
He decided to delve further and found that people with dyslexia had different reading preferences — it was just how their mind worked.
He started to create the software for Dyslex.ie while studying computer applications at DCU and describes the business start-up as a dream come true.
“I just love helping people but I also love innovation and I know that Dyslex.ie is capable of helping many people very quickly,” said Mr Cogan.
He is also working on a dyslexia indicator in a bid to provide more clarity and information
about dyslexia and hopes that will be ready by the end of the year.
The indicator will direct the user to seek medical advice if there is a question mark over whether or not they are dyslexic.