Apps for dyslexia & a teen mystery series

Mini P. recommends reading apps to aid children with dyslexia and a new mystery series for teenagers

Reading apps for dyslexia and learning disabilities

augmented realityAn estimated 35 million school-going children in India suffer from mild to severe dyslexia — a learning disorder that involves difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.

Here are two apps which have been specially developed to help dyslexic children learn and understand better:
Augmenta11y. An Augmented Reality (AR) enabled app, it helps people with learning disabilities read signage, newspapers, texts and other material in the real world.

A main feature of the app is real-time text detection. Once the user clicks and uploads a picture of the text on the app, it uses an offline machine learning model to provide instant text detection using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

MDA AvazThere are options to change the font style of the text, including a special font, Open Dyslexic designed by researchers specifically for people with dyslexia. The font helps users focus on the words and prevents confusion between alphabets like ‘b’-‘d’, ‘a’-‘o’, ‘u’-‘v’ and jumping between lines. Augmenta11y also allows users to adjust line height and letter spacing of the text, making it easier to distinguish characters from each other. Read aloud is another option, you can download it free-of-charge on Google Playstore.

MDA Avaz. Developed by the Madras Dyslexia Association, this app uses state-of-the-art technology, works largely off-line and is based on time-tested reading methodologies followed at MDA. This app also uses OCR technology and can be used to read any printed material. Although available on Playstore for Rs.2,000 per year, it can be subscribed at Rs 600 annually by directly e-mailing MDA.

The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer (Simon & Schuster Books)

This young adult fiction series of detective novels by American author Nancy Springer stars Enola Holmes as the 14-year-old sister of an already-famous and much older Sherlock Holmes. It borrows characters and settings from the Sherlock Holmes compendium, but the Enola character, is, well, quite the character. The first book, The Case of the Missing Marquess, and the fifth, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, were nominated for the Edgar Awards for Best Juvenile Mystery in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

In The Case of the Missing Marquess, Enola’s mother disappears on the latter’s 14th birthday. Brothers Sherlock and Mycroft think she has left of her own volition, but Enola discovers there is more to the mysterious disappearance than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Mycroft insists that Enola attends boarding school, but she runs away to London instead, and begins to crack cases. Inevitably she meets Dr John Watson and Inspector Lestrade in London.

In The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, Enola tries to trace Lady Cecily Alistair, who disappeared from her bedroom, while dodging Sherlock and Mycroft. And in The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets it’s Dr. John Watson, who goes missing.

Children are likely to enjoy this page-turner mystery series.

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