Demi Collins is an 18-year-old student, studying a Diploma in Fine Art at Oldham College. She is dyslexic and has autism and ADHD.
Struggling throughout school
Demi really enjoys her lessons at Oldham College and considerably prefers her studying experience now compared to when she was at primary and secondary schools. Before she joined Oldham College, Demi felt that she wasn’t taken very seriously, due to her dyslexia, and was often overlooked because she couldn’t read very well.
When Demi was in the classroom, she really struggled with reading, in particular paragraphs and long words. Until recently, she’d only been able to read material if it was on blue paper but – even then – it was very difficult for her to decipher certain words and sentences.
Supporting her learning
Oldham College has supported Demi from the outset of her joining and, for the first time in her learning journey, Demi feels encouraged by the staff, her peers, teaching assistants and technology support staff.
Demi explains, “This is the first place that I feel like I can actually do something worthwhile and prove that I can achieve good things without being labelled or held back because of my dyslexia.”
Introducing the OrCam Learn
Demi has difficulties with reading, and she also has autism and ADHD. She was first introduced to the OrCam Learn by Oldham College’s assistive technologist, Faye McLaughlin.
“The OrCam Learn is really cool! Since using it, my confidence has been really boosted and it helps me understand a lot more of what I’m reading – without always needing to ask a teacher for help. It literally reads everything just by one click of a button”.
“I was previously using another reading device in my GCSE mocks and did really poorly in one exam. It wouldn’t read what I was scanning as it could either be too slow or too fast when using it, or a little bit of dirt might affect it. This made it very stressful when it doesn’t perform as you need it to in a time-pressured exam situation.”
Since using the OrCam Learn, Demi has been amazed just how much the handheld assistive technology solution has helped with her studies.
“The OrCam Learn is brilliant: it literally reads everything, even handwriting. The device cuts down on my reading time so that I can properly focus on my answers. It gives students like me a lot more independence and takes away the need for me asking for help all the time.”
Progress with GCSE English exam
Demi has been using the OrCam Learn to help with studying for her English GSCE course. Previously in the classroom, she would have relied on the help of a human reader, but with many other students also needing the reader’s help, it has been invaluable for Demi to have the OrCam Learn support in her learning.
“I was so excited to be allowed to use the OrCam Learn in my English GCSE exam. It really transformed my confidence and helped me to tackle all the questions to the best of my ability.”
The OrCam Learn can be used within examination settings by activating its ‘Exam Mode’ which ensures there is no possibility of any Wi-Fi, cloud or Bluetooth connectivity and makes it fully JCQ compliant. Even with extra time allocated, Demi would have been disadvantaged in her exam without the use of the OrCam Learn.
Demi explains why the OrCam Learn is so unique in an exam setting. She says:
“Because of my dyslexia, autism and ADHD, I find it hard to understand questions that aren’t read in an emotive tone – so I won’t understand a robotic voice reading a piece of text or question to me. The OrCam Learn is so different, as it gives pauses whilst reading out the text and the pitch goes up or down, which really benefits my understanding of the material being read.”
The OrCam Learn has given Demi the opportunity and confidence to study independently, without the need of relying on others.
“It’s been so brilliant to be able to get on with my own studies, without relying on a reader’s help. With my autism, I sometimes just want to be on my own and not talk to other people, so the OrCam Learn gives me the freedom and independence to do this.”
“Studying in my own space with my earphones in and finding calm in reading is so good for me and something I’ve never been able to do before now. I’ve even asked for new books for my birthday present this year, something that I would never have dreamed of doing without the OrCam Learn. It’s given me a new found love for reading, when previously I’d have had a feeling of dread or anxiousness in the pit of my stomach when picking up a book.
“As an adult, you don’t want to admit that you can’t read, but you there are many times when it can be embarrassing – like not being able to read street signs and know where you are. Now, I feel no shame in my reading abilities and know that I have the OrCam Learn to help me with my reading. It makes me feel comfortable in situations that other people would just take for granted.”
The OrCam Learn has a unique Reading Pal feature. This enables students to practise reading fluency by reading text to the learning solution, then receiving live positive feedback, and sending reporting to a companion app virtually in real time.
The companion app tracks and evaluates the student’s progress for teachers and parents to identify areas in need of focus and adjust the learning process accordingly. It monitors their progress throughout the school year with in-depth reports and identifies areas for improvement.
“It is fantastic how the OrCam Learn can send your progress as a reader to your tutor or teacher, or you can be quizzed on what you have read. It is hard for me to say to someone that I can’t read, but the OrCam Learn doesn’t judge you or make you feel bad – it asks you questions and gives you encouraging and positive feedback. It really helps your confidence and independence in the classroom and everyday life situations.”