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Fulbright Fellow and teacher in UP creates web tool to aid Dyslexic children

Alpa Nigam, 39, a Fulbright fellow and a government teacher in Titauli village in Gorakhpur district, has developed a web-based tool for early identification and intervention for dyslexia.

The innovation will help children facing difficulty in reading, writing and spelling out words due to dyslexia.

Alpa, one among four government teachers from India to complete Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Rochester, was awarded for her tool -- ‘Unlocking literacy’ -- that comprehensively assessed reading skills on 11 literacy areas such as reading, comprehension, phonological awareness, to pinpoint specific areas of difficulty.

“Dyslexia affects 10-15 per cent of children in India and poses significant challenges in reading, encompassing decoding, fluency, and comprehension. If we identify such children between classes 2 and 5, timely intervention can thwart potential lifelong academic and social difficulties,” said Alpa.

She is credited with setting up a language lab, first in any primary school, where students improve pronunciation and linguistic skills.

Alpa added that research had shown that around 5-15 per cent children in rural schools suffer from dyslexia.

“Proper diagnosis available for dyslexia in India is expensive. Our tool helps teachers to screen children on the basis of questions and get total score based on which they can mark a child into three categories – below threshold with low risk, at threshold with moderate risk, and above threshold with high risk,” said Alpa, who has already tested this tool during her stay at Rochester.

The web tool was developed with support from another government teacher from Rajasthan, Imran Khan, another Fulbright fellow.

“Teachers like her (Alpa) are a beacon of change and empowerment for dyslexic kids because most people (teachers and parents) don’t see it as a problem due to lack of awareness and knowledge. While working on our projects in the university, I found her work exemplary, and offered help in coding and developing the web version of her pen and paper dyslexia tool,” Imran said.

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