Fonologia - Making dyslexia testing more accessible with an assessment app for educators
Inläsningstjänst (ILT) is an educational company that believes everyone should be given an equal opportunity to absorb knowledge and information. That’s why they decided to add a new app to their toolkit which could make it a lot easier to assess whether or not students have reading or writing difficulties that should be catered to in the classroom.
Traditional dyslexia testing often involves a long and expensive process that fails to adequately pinpoint all types of reading and writing difficulties—creating a large gap between students and the help they need.
ILT contacted us at Fastdev to help create Fonologia, a simple and up-to-date dyslexia assessment app that could rise above the shortcomings of traditional testing solutions to easily investigate whether a person has dyslexia, and to what extent, based on the internationally accepted phonological definition of dyslexia. By developing Fonologia, ILT sought not only to fill a void, where there is a lack of flexible tools that rely on the latest dyslexia research, but also to strengthen the ability of special educators and special needs teachers to handle these investigations themselves.
When Fastdev began work on the app, there were no suitable examples of products for detecting reading and writing difficulties to gain inspiration from. For this reason, a significant part of the initial work involved determining the most optimal features and interface requirements.
Our team needed to combine specific calculations and test models with a simple user interface and a smooth and user-friendly testing process. When it came to the design and layout, there were many different elements to take into account in the form of test leaders, test persons, subtests and the research the app is based upon. All of these elements needed to be present in the app, without compromising the ease of the testing experience.
After confirming the desired specifications with ILT, our project team created a beta version of the app, complete with test exercises and results calculations. It was sent out to test users for feedback. It was quite a successful version that fulfilled the purpose, and the limited amount of questions from users proves this. The second version included updated tasks and an optimized calculation structure.
The test versions were used continuously with about 30-40 special educators and other professionals in the sector. We had a function in the app that allowed testers to submit their results and report any issues directly to us, which we could then use to produce version 2.0 of the app. This iterative process of testing and feedback continued until we reached a final release version of the app everyone was happy with.
The resulting app facilitates an easy step-by-step testing session, featuring both visual and auditory guidance, that a school child could take together with their teacher.
While other dyslexia tests examine many aspects of reading and writing, Fonologia zeros in on six phonological processes and decoding. The test is performed orally with digital support, using an iPad, and charts the phonological skills which can be the source of learning difficulties for the test person. It takes less than an hour to complete, and feedback is immediate. Results are presented in the form of a detailed report and an illustrative diagram that can be used for discussion with students and parents.
According to the scientists working with Fongolia, Dr. Anna Fouganthine, dyslexia specialist, and Christer Jacobson, Associate Professor in Educational Psychology, the preliminary results of the testing app are positive. They report:
“Feedback from users has shown that the test makes it easier to distinguish those who have dyslexia and those who only have reading and writing difficulties.
“Since the test is new on the market, it will take a while before we receive more validation data. What we have done so far is we’ve worked to confirm whether the test measures what it sets out to measure, i.e., that the test has good validity. It will take some time before we get more validation data and organize it.”
Since launching Fonologia in 2020, ILT has received great feedback from users in terms of the app’s user-friendliness and the need it fills for a target group which otherwise would not have access to such an innovative, digital testing solution.
As for the experience of working with Fastdev to develop the app, the reviews have been positive too. The project itself ran smoothly, with our team at Fastdev successfully fulfilling the tasks requested.
“Work with the project manager and developers has gone well,” reports Hayri Dündar, Product Owner at ILT. “The tempo has been very high and we are satisfied with the entire team’s contribution to the project.”