Two Bournemouth residents have launched a new reading aid for Android that aims to help people struggling with dyslexia, poor eyesight and other reading difficulties.
Andrew Martin and Haydn Philpotts developed an app called Handy Book, which runs on Android tablets. It allows users to upload eBooks and word documents and read them with the aid of accessible features made to help dyslexics. The app includes tools such as a moveable highlighter bar that helps readers focus on one line at a time, an interface that allows background colour and font adjusting, and a dictionary with text to speech capability.
Martin, a financial director, said they were both surprised to find out that there wasn’t anything like the Handy Book reading aid out there. “The only things that seem to be available online are what they call text to speech, where it would read it back to them. The dyslexia experts that we talked to said that doesn’t help a kid to read, you’re not actually learning to read yourself because you have a machine doing it for you.”
The two business partners started the project from their living room one year ago, working on it on the weekends and then testing prototypes at All Saints School in Weymouth. “We bought a tablet and stored the prototype there and gave it to one of the teachers and she went off and did a full blown study on her kids,” Philpotts said. “She did about three sessions with each kid and came back with really positive results. So we know it works.”
According to the British Dyslexia Association, 10 per cent of the population is dyslexic.
John Collins, a learning support assistant at Bournemouth University said: “The first thing is to identify and face the problem if they’re dyslexic, then it might be something that they can get help with it.”
Lena Marsden, a clinical psychology graduate student who struggles with dyslexia, said: “Visual software and pictures tend to help with dyslexia, with organising and structuring. I’ve used apps like speech to text software, they are not massively effective but they also help along the way.”
Martin confirmed that the Handy Book app would be available on October 30 on Google Play.