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Supporting students with dyslexia during COVID-19

A new app is helping
Posted at 8:36 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 20:36:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — One in five people suffer from dyslexia. With many schools moving to virtual learning, students with disabilities have been hit especially hard during the pandemic.

As a mother of two dyslexic children, Nadine Gilkison has spent years looking for ways to help her kids learn better.

“I quickly discovered that there is very much an inequity,” says Gilkison. “If you are someone who has the means, you can get private tutoring and so on for your children. And of course the educator in me, I started rapidly thinking of well, what about if you don’t have those things?”

The Franklin Township Schools District Technology Integration Supervisor, in charge of all e-learning, Gilkison wanted to make sure kids, especially from low-income and non-English speaking families, could access the tools and resources they needed while learning from home.

“I was trying to figure out how an app could be created. And a couple of the teachers in my district reached out and said you need to talk to Brayden Gogis,” she said.

“I actually started making apps when I was in an elementary school,” said Brayden Gogis.

One might call a coding genius, she and 11th grader Gogis set out to create an app called “Blending Board.”

“The app has to be free, are you willing to do this work for free? Gilkison asked Gogis. “And he was totally on board with that. And I truly can’t thank him enough.”

“I was really excited about it because I remember a lot of the teachers who are going to be helped with this,” said Gogis. “So it’s like the teachers that I loved, I get to give a little back to.”

The app helps students with dyslexia sound out syllables and improve reading through what’s called a “blending board” using stacks of cards.

“So like if you’re doing a ZOOM call or Google meet, then an instructor can actually pull up the app and be rapidly going through the blending board with a child when they’re doing a small group situation,” said Gogis.

Brayden then came up with the idea of adding a QR code that parents can scan and practice the deck of cards at home, as well.

“I know as of last week, we were at over 250,000 downloads and the apps only been around for a couple of weeks.”

The school dropout rate for dyslexic students is 35%. Many also struggle from depression. With this new app, the two hope to make crucial resources, accessible to everyone.

The app is for all ages and grade levels.

To learn more, visit