VR tool helps students with dyslexia hone speaking skills

MS GEETHA SHANTHA RAM, director of the DAS' English language and literacy programmes.
MS GEETHA SHANTHA RAM, director of the DAS' English language and literacy programmes.

Students with dyslexia who find it hard to give presentations may soon get help to overcome their nerves.

A new virtual reality program will allow them to hone their speaking skills in front of a virtual audience and even give them cues to make eye contact and hand gestures.

The presentation-skills tool is a joint effort by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) and a group of students from Nanyang Technological University.

It will be introduced in September across 14 DAS centres to 50 students with dyslexia on the cusp of entering tertiary institutions.

Students with dyslexia usually have difficulty reading, writing and spelling, and may have lower confidence levels, behavioural problems and hyperactivity.

The presentation-skills tool comes under the iStudySmart programme, which uses technology to boost the learning of students with learning disabilities.

The programme was announced yesterday at a DAS teaching conference held at the Lifelong Learning Institute.

EASING LEARNING AT HOME

The great thing about technology is that you can use it to facilitate learning at home as well, which helps to bridge the disparity in learning pace.

MS GEETHA SHANTHA RAM, director of the DAS' English language and literacy programmes.

Educators from 14 countries are taking part in the three-day event - called the Uniting Ideas in Teaching Excellence: Specific Learning Differences 2018 Conference - which started on Wednesday.

In a keynote presentation yesterday, Ms Geetha Shantha Ram, director of the DAS' English language and literacy programmes, said: "It takes a student with dyslexia twice as long as the average student to learn something.

"The great thing about technology is that you can use it to facilitate learning at home as well, which helps to bridge the disparity in learning pace."

A tech tool that the DAS is using is the Raz-Kids application, which has been introduced to children in its pre-school programme.

With the app, children with reading difficulties can have e-books read aloud to them both in the classroom and at home.

The app also offers teachers a way to keep track of the children's reading progress.

DAS educational technology coordinator Soofrina Mubarak, 31, said tech tools such as interactive whiteboards have made students more focused in class.

"When you have interactive and fun features, even students who have trouble paying attention during class are more engaged and productive," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2018, with the headline 'VR tool helps students with dyslexia hone speaking skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe