We live in a consumerist society where products are cheaply made and bought, only to be thrown into landfill after very few uses. As designers, we have the incredible privilege to make the world and society a better place but also the responsibility to prevent producing more landfill. I want to contribute to change the world by understanding the emergent needs of people and to work with them to create a preferable future, by and through Design. In this context, Design, Engineering, the Social Sciences and Economics need to work differently together, to enable change to happen as part of a collective approach.
Project Overview video
20% of students show some signs of dyslexia.
35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic.
35% of dyslexics drop out of school.
40% of self-made millionaires are dyslexic.
50% of rocket scientists at NASA are dyslexic.
50-70% of teens in trouble with the law are dyslexic.
80% of dyslexics aren’t diagnosed in school.
So what this extreme difference between success and failure for those who are dyslexic? It’s their education and whether they were supported and encouraged through it. The foundation of this education is the ability to read, something that all dyslexics struggle with to varying amounts. To ‘succeed’ in life you don’t have to be a fast reader or solely read for your job, but you do need to be able to read and communicate your ideas on paper to some degree. So those dyslexics who haven’t been supported in learning to read or write efficiently soon believe they are incapable of succeeding in anything else. But those who are supported in their weaknesses and encouraged to see their strengths learn to see what is possible, they make their success; and often without the need for writing. Dyslexics who succeed, become the great creative problem solvers we all need in this world; just look at Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Jamie Oliver and so many more.
Dyslexia is a neurological difference that causes difficulties with reading and writing, but it makes them very creative, great problem solvers and are engaging verbal communicators when supported. Dyslexics learn to read in a very different way to others. They use the visual/right hemisphere over the language/left hemisphere. Because of this dyslexics need to be taught in a multi-sensory way. Dyslexics are hands-on learners who learn best while observing and doing. The schools today teach while saying and wrote memorisation. But the new workforce of the 4th industrial revolution which we are currently in, needs employees who are creative, free-thinking and collaborative problem solvers. So instead of ignoring the way dyslexics learn we could embrace this way of learning so that all may succeed in becoming creative problem solvers who believe in their strengths and are aware of their weaknesses and how as a team when we support each other’s weaknesses, we succeed all the more.
Clickit uses colour to bring extra meaning to a letter and words, by using individual and distinct colours for each letter. Clickit’s colours have been chosen to match the 11 most common letters with the most different colours, and similar-looking letters with very different colours to reduce confusion. Associations between colour and letter are built really quickly because synaesthesia can be taught to some degree. Syneasethia is where people associate specific colours with letters and words.
The letters 'b’, 'd’, 'p’ and 'q’ con no longer be confused anymore because they are now different colours. It also helps children learn a colour pattern which is then teaching them the correct spelling of a word. It stops children from confusing two words that sound the same but have different spellings because they now have a certain colour pattern that they can associate to each correct spelling.
Clickit letter click together to form words and teach correct letter placement when writing on a line.
The Clickit letters are accompanied by a storybook.
Meet Alfie and Betty; they are best friends and do everything together. They are both very bright and very creative and they have the wildest imaginations. Together they have travelled, in their imaginations, all over the world to so many amazing places; the jungle, the desert and even in the deep blue seas! They have learnt so many unusual things on their journeys and solved so many seemingly impossible problems. Yet despite all of this they truly don’t enjoy school; they both really struggle with words. This means their school can be very stressful and exhausting for them with all the new and difficult squiggly words.
Every day when they sit in class, the letters try and move around on the board. They jump, they flip, they hide, and they sink, they don’t like to stay still at all. Concentrating on the words becomes a bit overwhelming for Alfie and Betty, it makes them very tired. They often find themselves distracted and thinking about more interesting things; like where could their next adventure be?
“It’s almost as if the letters are floating around in Outer Space like they have no gravity holding them in line,” whispered Alfie. Betty grinned back, “imagine if we were out in Space with them?!”
That is all it takes, the sparkle in their eyes revealing their thoughts. Their imaginations run wild... and they are off - flying through Space. Floating alongside the badly-behaved letters; flipping and spinning out of control. “How will these letters ever make sense? They are all just silly squiggles,” questioned Alfie. Betty totally agreed, letters and words are really quite confusing. As they floated around in space, with the letters swirling around them, Betty became curious “how do you think we can learn what each letter is and which way around it should be?”
All of a sudden, a voice boomed out of the darkness, “you need to perfectly write ‘muddy pigs might oink.” A sad-looking Alfie mumbled “it’s impossible! We never will be able to do it; all the letters float around and won’t stay still.” He felt defeated, he’ll never be rid of these silly squiggles.
With her eyes as wide as saucers, Betty startled “random, isn’t that our teacher? I don’t like being tested though, it’s too stressful and what’s the point anyway?” She thought for a while and then optimistically exclaimed “there are two problems, and I think we can solve them. One, we can’t tell the difference between some letters when they rotate, and two the letters don’t all stay together in a straight line.”
“What if we give each letter a different colour? Then we will know what each letter is, even if it’s the wrong way around,” suggested Betty.
Alfie began to get excited and could see the fun they could have, “and then we can give each letter little connectors, so they don’t float around!”
“Yes!” exclaimed Betty, “we’ve done it! Now to write out the magic phrase.” “Not so fast, we need to make sure the letters are all connected in the correct place, so they sit on the line correctly. We need it to be perfect! Can you see? Some letters have a root that goes below the line, and some letters have a stalk that goes up. Just like plants have roots and stalks” explained Alfie.
Can you help us connect the magic phrase together? You can use your letters to help you. “muddy pigs might oink”
“Yay! We did it! We worked together, used our strengths instead of focusing on our weaknesses and solved the problem of the badly-behaved floating letters.” Alfie and Betty floated back into class and sat happily in their seats, smiling about all the fun they had just had.
Betty excitedly put up her hand and told her teacher, “we’re finished!” They were the first to finish the writing assignment. Their new 3D letters helped them work with their strengths to overcome their weaknesses, it gave them confidence and they started to enjoy school more.
A graphic designer for a publishing house, teachers, parents and children have all read the storybook and found it eye opening and hugely valuable.
Word shape matching games with Year 1 students
Meaning and spelling matching games with Year 1 students
Making letter and sound shapes with Year 1 students
Sound, word and spelling matching games with Year 1 students
Teaching letter and colour association to Year 1 students
Spelling through colour patterns with Year 1 students
Spelling through colour patterns with Year 1 students
“One Year 7 student couldn’t even spell ‘beginning’ correctly, and with one go on clickit he got it correct! It slows him down and helps him visualise it.” Secondary SENCo teacher
Non-dyslexic students benefit from the freedom Clickit provides allowing them to challenge themselves with hard words. These Year 7's didn't know the words meaning giving their teacher a chance to explain and inspire them.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to spell my name correctly without any help!” Dyslexic age 13. “I finally enjoy learning to spell, I now want to keep learning at school.” Dyslexic age 17.
“The colours helped me remember the spelling.” Dyslexic and non-dyslexic students age 9 & 8
“Great for manipulating the letters into the right places as they sound out the right letters. They can see where it is wrong. Gives them confidence to work it out themselves.” Mum of non-dyslexics aged 4 & 7
Due to lockdown I had the opportunity to test with home schooled students age 4-13 from march to may. I sent clickit prototypes out to families around the country, and conducted the same user testing via Zoom. All students were so engaged during testing that they would play and learn for up to an hour, and wanted to learn with clickit again. All students then also used clickit to learn their own school spelling without me, while at home. Parents were amazing at how much they learnt and enjoyed learning with clickit.