By Phil Butler
The innovative education software platform RADAR just announced its latest initiative, called “Defeat Dyslexia,” in cooperation with the Hellenic Mediterranean University and the Region of Crete. The initiative is a major epidemiological study of reading abnormalities aimed at screening all of Crete’s schoolchildren for dyslexia and other reading disorders.
The RADAR initiative will operate under the auspices of the Region of Crete and with €500,000 in funding approved by the governor of Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis. Under the supervision of the Hellenic Mediterranean University, “Defeat Dyslexia” aims to mitigate the negative effects of reading disorders within the controlled sphere of the school system on the largest Greek islands.
RADAR, which is an acronym for “Rapid Assessment for Dyslexia and Abnormalities in Reading,” is a groundbreaking screening system developed by an interdisciplinary team led by one of the world’s most prominent ophthalmologists, Dr. Ioannis Aslanides. The system, which relies on advanced algorithms combined with a simple reading test, will soon be deployed to test an initial group of 1,500 children across Crete.
With more than 7,000 experiments completed and studies ongoing at Harvard University in the United States and Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, the RADAR method is the world’s first objective and quantifiable early screening method for dyslexia.
“When we first began developing RADAR a decade ago, the mission was to defeat dyslexia and the horrible effects the anomaly exacts on so many,” said Dr. Aslanides. “Now, with the help of some of the world’s most dedicated engineers, doctors, educators, and willing leaders, we are inches away from winning a major battle against learning disorders,” he added proudly.
Crete’s “Defeat Dyslexia” effort is a huge opportunity for RADAR as well as the educational system of the island. Deploying the platform in this closed island environment will help the interdisciplinary teams to further refine it and create customized therapies as indicated by the results.
Dr. Aslanides says this is the first such broad-based deployment of the new tool, and the only case in which speech pathologists, social workers, and ophthalmologists have been part of such a screening effort.
Experts in the field estimate that as many as one in five individuals suffer from some form of dyslexia. The implications for very early quantifiable screening of children are tremendous.
The economic, educational, and human suffering as a result of dyslexia and other reading disorders are astronomical. The steps taken to screen all the children on Crete will hopefully provide a model for creating a new diagnostic, customized therapeutic process which educators and health professionals can deploy throughout Crete, then in Greece and internationally.
It is estimated that $1 trillion a year is spent on dyslexia testing, therapies, and educational infrastructure in the United States alone. For the Crete region, funding for similar programs is simply economically unfeasible. So the collaboration between these crucial stakeholders may create the perfect research environment which will prove to be critical for the development of this groundbreaking new tool.
Phil Butler is Editor in Chief of the Argophilia Travel News