New breakthrough in coping with Dyslexia

Eoin Meegan

Dyslexia is a condition that affects approximately one in ten people in Ireland. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland defines the condition as “a specific learning difficulty affecting the acquisition of fluent and accurate reading and spelling skills.”

Many well-known people have the condition including comedian Brendan O’Carroll, actress Keira Knightley, and Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame. 450,000 people in Ireland are said to have dyslexia, and around 700 million worldwide.

So, if you are one of those you may be interested in a new product recently launched. The product is called and is the brainchild of DCU computer science student Kevin Cogan.

So what exactly is Very simply it is a new online tool to enable those with dyslexia to read faster while making fewer errors. can be easily downloaded as a Google Chrome extension and used across all sites.

After it is initially downloaded, the user is invited to take part in a survey which will determine their level of dyslexia and how the new programme can best serve their needs. then automatically tailors the visual and textual information on the page to the user’s specific needs.

It can change the size and colour of the page you are on, arrange the amount of words on each line, even determine their size, and the size of the spaces between lines and words. It can change the background colour, font sizes, styles, perform syllable splitting, paragraph delineation and lots lots more. Later the person can go in and change or customise this information any time they wish according to their needs. It is the software’s ability to make alterations to any online script that makes this technology both friendly and intuitive.

Recently NewsFour talked to Denise Brennan, who together with Kevin set up an Enactus DCU project to launch Dyslex. ie. Enactus is a global not-forprofit organisation, and one of the world’s biggest experiential learning platforms.

Kevin is the CEO of the project and Denise, who has a background in marketing and business, is the Chief Operating Officer. At present they have a 10-strong team working with them, including a marketing unit, a business unit, and a tech unit. And Denise can’t praise the team enough, “they come up with some brilliant new ideas, and always get everything done really quickly.”

When the Enactus project expires they envisage setting up a registered company. The product was very successfully launched last June. It was an online launch, of course, due to covid-19. Since then Kevin has been doing lots of radio interviews around the country, including Kildare FM, and Shannon Side to promote the product.

Denise believes has the potential to help people across the world, and says, “We want to see people opening up a conversation about it, saying this has helped my daughter, and so on.” She pointed out that the programme has shown an increase of 30% in the reading speed, up to 50% in some cases.

“You can imagine what a benefit that is to someone doing college work, such as writing a thesis, and the amount of reading that is required for same. The programme will drastically cut the amount of time they need to spend reading.”

Kevin noted from conversations with some of his friends who have dyslexia that existing aids tended to be a ‘one size fits all’, and failed to take account of the fact that every person with dyslexia is not the same and do not experience the written word in the same way.

To give an example, some people might find a yellow background would help them, while others would prefer another colour; some needed to have the words large, while others not so much but more gapped out. Basically, what works for one person didn’t necessarily work for another.

Because of its chameleon-like ability to change the page, Dyslex. ie bypasses these problems and feels like it’s personally made for the individual user. Understanding of the condition varies too.

At primary school level there tends to be a healthy support for those reporting dyslexia, while at secondary school this drops off somewhat. However, it is at third level that the support seems to be most lacking, leading to concerns when people enter the workplace.

Inability to read memos, emails and other correspondence can quickly lead to frustration, lack of advancement, and in some cases even dismissal.

Not everyone is sympathetic to the condition, and sadly, a lot of stigma around dyslexia still persists. In an attempt to correct this imbalance will be available free of charge to all third level institutes from September next, and Kevin and Denise hope to make the programme as accessible to as many people as they can, and at as low a cost as possible.

To this end, they have set up individual plans that will start at around €2 a month, with special annual subscriptions for schools. They have big plans for the future too, hoping to finalise a deal with Microsoft which would see the programme on all android phones.

At the moment it is available across all platforms with the exception of Safari. was part of the winning DCU team in the 2020 Enactus Ireland annual social enterprise competition, and will now go on to represent Ireland in the Enactus World Cup in September in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, which will of course also be an online only event.

Enactus assists third-level students to set up social enterprise schemes with the proviso that they must be financially, socially and environmentally sustainable, and impact positively on the community. The students are trained and monitored by business and faculty advisors. This was the sixth time in nine years that the DCU team won the competition. Among its other projects was one to help develop public speaking skills in primary and post primary students.

Kevin, Denise, and all concerned would like to acknowledge funding for the project which they have received from, among others, Enterprise Ireland, the Social Innovative Fund, Citibank, and KBC. And they would especially like to thank Enactus and DCU for their help, support and encouragement in seeing this very worthy project come to life. Within a few short years it could revolutionise our approach and understanding of dyslexia. Hopefully, more understanding will follow that.