The 11-week study, carried out by the British Dyslexia Association at Knowl Hill School in Surrey, found that using Immersive Reader, part of Microsoft’s OneNote software, improved pupil’s reading comprehension and emotional well-being.
The software reads out a pupil’s writing, without a teacher or learning assistant’s help.
Hearing, rather than reading, makes is easier to spot mistakes and correct them. A similar self-editing doesn’t happen when pupils had to write in literacy books.
The school’s headteacher Jan Lusty told Sky News: “It gives them more independence. If they’re really dyslexic and they can’t read really much at all, then they have to have someone else interpreting for them the whole time, reading and scribing.
“This puts that into their hands. They can do it themselves. And that’s the key thing for me and I think that’s why we saw an increase in their confidence over the period of the trial.”
Image Caption: Microsoft UK says it now wants to conduct a larger trial
Twenty pupils were involved in the trial, although not all of them for its entire duration.
Sixteen out of 18 showed an improvement in their classroom behaviour, and 11 out of 16 improved their reading comprehension.
Kate Saunders, chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, told Sky News: “What I think is really exciting is that – through this partnership between the users and the developers, and the pace at which technology is moving – I can foresee within the next five years or so tremendous progress.”
Ian Fordham, director of education at Microsoft UK, said that the company was hoping to conduct a larger scale trial.
“We’ve learned a lot from how young people have fed back into the reading, in terms of comprehension and fluency. We’re always feeding back into our product.”