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Microsoft has signed a pledge to use technology support the 700 million individuals worldwide who have dyslexia.
Partnering with charity Made by Dyslexia, the tech giant will develop resources and tools to make education easier for those with the condition.
The decision coincides with research by the charity, in partnership with Ernst & Young (EY), which found that one in five children are estimated to have dyslexia, but many are undiagnosed and teachers and parents do not have the resources to properly support dyslexic children.
In a LinkedIn post about the announcement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he was excited about the developments the firm was making to its learning tools.
“There is nothing that gives me deeper satisfaction than seeing our customers, of all abilities and backgrounds, empowered by the technology we build,” he said.
“In the classroom, technology can democratise educational opportunities for students and personalise their learning experience. We are honoured to be the first company to sign the Made by Dyslexia pledge to give the 700 million people around the world with dyslexia technology, free intervention and training materials to ensure they can realise their brilliant potential.”
To help address the lack of resources for those with or supporting those with dyslexia, as well as the negative connotations surrounding the condition, Microsoft will help to develop resources for parents and teachers, as well as tools for students with dyslexia to assist learning.
Technology is increasingly helping people with disabilities, physical or otherwise, to become a more integrated part of society.
More than 95% of the general public believe dyslexia is a negative trait, and more than 70% of special education classes are made up of students with dyslexia, some of whom may have been misdiagnosed with a learning disability.
Around 70% of teachers have admitted in the past that they do not have the skills and resources needed to teach young people technology concepts such as coding, and a lack of resources also contributes to teachers’ ability to support children with dyslexia.
As part of its pledge, Microsoft will provide teachers and parents with free training resources to help them support young people with dyslexia to learn.
It will also work with researchers to develop new ways of using technology to identify dyslexia sufferers early, and will further develop its Microsoft Education products to ensure more features are included to help support dyslexic students in their learning.
These will include updates to packages such as its free Learning Tools product, allowing students to use speech to text technology and Immersive Reader, which helps people learn to read, as well as other accessibility updates.
The firm will also work on integrating Immersive Reader with the Office Lens application so students can use their devices to take pictures of text which will then be read to them and allow them to manipulate the text to make it easier to read and understand.