Case study: Moon Hall transforms SEND learning with assistive reading device
Moon Hall, a specialist dyslexic school for children aged 7-16 in Reigate, Surrey has transformed its teaching with the OrCam Read, the first-of-its-kind handheld assistive reading device that seamlessly reads text from any printed surface or digital screen.
Specifically developed to empower students with reading challenges including dyslexia, dyspraxia, and mild or moderate vision impairment, OrCam Read allows pupils at Moon Hall to instantly hear any text, helping with reading difficulties and increasing focus on their learning process.
Michelle Catterson, Executive Headteacher at Moon Hall, said: “The OrCam Read is fantastic. When students are using it, it puts them all on a level playing field. So, no matter what their reading ability, they can all access their educational resources in lessons.
“One of my targets for the pupils is that they are as independent as possible and a key to that independence is being able to access assistive technology. If they don’t have access, or are not confident using it then they are reliant on an adult – something our older pupils especially do not feel comfortable with.”
Assistive technology for students with dyslexia has been available for years, but until now – due to the necessity of “scanning” text word by word, or at most one sentence at a time – there has not been any solution that means students, like those at Moon Hall, can keep pace with the typical amount of reading in a school day.
The school can now use assistive devices within examination settings as the OrCam Read device is fully operable offline, meeting JCQ examination guidance.
Michelle explained: “There are strict exam restrictions with regards to JCQ and guidelines on using devices that can connect to the internet – they’re just not allowed in exams – and because the OrCam Read doesn’t connect to the internet, it means that it’s an acceptable tool to use. If students didn’t have access to technology to help them in their exams, they would be very much reliant upon another adult, a reader or a scribe to help them.
“By using the OrCam Read, it means that they have that independence in an exam. It’s one less stress for them – they don’t have to think about having to communicate to another person what it is that they want to submit for the exam answer.”
OrCam Read is also available with a Smart Reading Feature, which allows students to command the device with vocal commands. Advanced AI recognises columns, titles, numbers, dates, allowing the user to pinpoint the text they need, further increasing their independence.
Kate Eastwood, Head of English at Moon Hall School, commented: “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the OrCam Read. It is a completely different solution compared to the reading pens that we’ve used in the past. When we’ve used other reading pens, we found that, unless the text is spaced in a certain way, or in certain fonts, students can struggle because the reading pen doesn’t pick up the text.
“But with the OrCam Read it is just so much more intuitive for them to use. Our students are all masters of technology, and with the OrCam Read it works much more like a phone app so for them it’s very much just a ‘pickup and use’ device.”
Daisy, a Year 8 student at Moon Hall, added: “I really like how you can use the OrCam Read as a pen. Instead of scanning line by line like other devices we’ve used, you can very easily just take a picture of any book or computer screen and it reads it back to you.”