This is a translation of an interview that appeared in TICBeat, one of the most widely read publications in Spanish about TIC.
Every day more and more children have access to new technology. Most of us have seen, at some point or another, a child sitting in his stroller playing with an app on his parent’s iPhone. This emerging young audience signifies a boom in apps targeted at a preschool audience.
ForDyslexia is a startup company dedicated to putting technology and education together for those children who most need it: those with learning difficulties. “There aren’t many apps designed specifically for children with dyslexia,” says Kathryn Hart, founder and CEO of the company.
The entrepreneur realized what an impact technology could have in the lives of children with learning difficulties through personal experience. “When my daughter was 5, she showed signs of dyslexia. Christmas arrived in the middle of this process and I received an iPad,” Hart tells. “My daughter picked it up with enthusiasm and excitement. She wouldn’t put it down. She learned the alphabet in a matter of days. This realization gave birth to ForDyslexia: apps to help children with dyslexia learn how to read by using an appealing multisensory tech-tool,” she says.
The apps are based on the Orton-Gillingham methodology, which is a multisensory approach to teaching. “It has been scientifically proven that children with dyslexia learn better if the different senses of sight, hearing and touch are involved in the process. The technological advances which include tactile screens on the tablet and smartphone are a fantastic opportunity for teaching children with dyslexia,” Hart explains. The team is working to launch the first app of the series, I CAN ALPHABETICS in English (and later in Spanish). It will be an app to help parents teach their children the alphabet in a fun and easy way.
The 1st app is targeted for children from 3 to 8 years old with dyslexia. Starting out, the main focus will be on the US and Spain, where the entrepreneur says there are an estimated 5.5 million children with dyslexia.
Is it hard to launch an educational startup?
“I have received a lot of help from scientific and educational experts in dyslexia from the US who have been generous with their time,” says Hart. “I also received advice from the Mentors at the Founder Institute. Their critical analysis of my project and their support on presenting it to possible investors has helped me to make great strides,” she explains. As a graduate of the biggest startup incubator in the world, Hart is backed by months of preparation and specialized instruction for new tech companies. “I decided to apply to the Founder Institute because I didn’t know how to access the world of angel investors. The program looked very interesting and so did the mentors who were coming to share their experience. Comparing FI to other incubators, I was attracted to the international community that FI offered. The program has been a jump-start for my idea. It obligated me to build a company and get going in record time. FI also motivated me to be more ambitious with the business model and vision for my company,” the entrepreneur comments.
Hart’s passion is evident. “Children with dyslexia do not lack intelligence. In fact, many have above average intelligence. The thing is that their brains work in a different way. From this perspective, it is obvious that we have to find other methods to teach a child with dyslexia than those that we may have been using,” she explains. For her, the children are not the problem, but rather the teaching style that should adapt to the needs of the student. “New technology makes teaching tools, like apps, more accessible. And it makes them accessible in almost any place in the world,” says Hart.”It’s an exciting time.”
Foto cc Katybird