Dytective

‘Dytective’ is a real solution that can change the opportunities of children with dyslexia from the beginning and addresses dyslexia before it becomes a problem.

Our dream is to make dyslexia detection easily available to everyone: detection and intervention for anyone, no matter your country or your income.

More than 10% of the population has dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects reading and writing but not general intelligence. Because the diagnosis of dyslexia is expensive and time-consuming, most children are diagnosed only after they have been failing in school for some time. As a result, intelligent and hard-working children fail, and they don't know why. They are diagnosed too late for effective intervention, resulting in up to 40% of the school dropout rate being due to dyslexia.

We are changing this with a game designed to predict dyslexia at scale called ‘Dytective’. Children play the game for only 15 minutes. A machine-learning model recognizes patterns associated with dyslexia in how children play the game (their mouse movements, timing information, etc.). To make this feasible, activities in Dytective are constructed from:

  • Empirical, linguistic analysis of the errors that people with dyslexia make
  • Principles of language acquisition
  • Specific linguistic skills related to dyslexia.

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Experiments with 243 children and adults (95 with diagnosed dyslexia) show that it can work. Our model currently achieves an 86% accuracy in deciding whether a child has dyslexia or not. Importantly, its false negative rate is only 12%, meaning that only 12% of the time does it falsely predict that a child with dyslexia does not have dyslexia. For those in high school, the prediction accuracy is more than 97%. With more training data (we are working with partner schools to have 10,000 participants by April 2016), we believe Dytective will be able to determine whether children have dyslexia or not with very high accuracy.

Currently, Dytective works for Spanish, and will soon be available online. We are working with the government of Spain to deploy it in schools at a large scale. We are developing Dytective for different languages, including English, German and Arabic. Our overall aim is to reach the whole world’s population.