“OneNote helps me organize all my lessons in one folder; I don’t need photocopies, and the teacher is happy because she can read my handwriting. Before she used to complain that it was so messy!”

— A student benefiting from the Ordyslexie donation program

Microsoft OneNote: Giving Kids with Dyslexia a New Learning Experience!

Imagine that organizing your thoughts and writing were laborious tasks and identifying letters and sounds was a daily struggle for you. Imagine that doing your schoolwork was so daunting that it made you doubt your own abilities and caused you and your family stress. This is the reality for thousands of 10-year-old children with dyslexia in the French school system. These students have to cope with a seven-hour school day and sit through 10 subjects, despite their learning difficulties. For Denis Masson, an IT engineer, pilot, and the founder of Ordyslexie, this issue is very dear. He and his two sons also suffer from dyslexia. In 2010, Mr. Masson came up with a brilliant idea: to establish an innovative project that catered to the needs of children who have dyslexia. Mr. Masson chose the name Ordyslexie, which comes from the French words for computer (ordinateur) and dyslexia (dyslexie). 

A Simple Solution for a Complex Problem

What is so special about Ordyslexie? The concept of Ordyslexie is to provide children who have dyslexia with a refurbished tablet PC at a minimal fee of 50 euros. Each tablet PC comes with Microsoft OneNote, which helps make the learning experience more interactive. The program also gives the children an organizational system that helps them automatically save their work and come back to it if they get distracted. With everyone working at the same pace, the class as a whole can stay more organized. 

Mr. Masson persuaded Air France to donate the pilots’ tablet PCs to solidarity projects like Ordyslexie. Air France gladly donated 2,000 tablet PCs with styluses. Thanks to dedicated parents from disability organizations like APEDYS and FUSO, this project has now spread rapidly across France. The Ordyslexie program has now been active since 2010 and has affected the lives of over 1,500 students. These children no longer have to dread going to school because they have gained confidence and have become more independent. Homework time is less of a struggle for both parents and kids, and teachers do not have to constantly decipher the pupils’ handwriting or prepare special material. 

Improving the Education Experience

Students who have dyslexia have gone from failing and disliking schoolwork to overcoming their learning difficulties thanks to Ordyslexie. For example, children can scan their work and edit it on the tablet PC, color diagrams and maps with the stylus, or edit work directly with the keyboard. They can also use speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and spelling and grammar checkers to improve their note taking. 

Connecting Through Technology: The Work of ADB Solidatech and TechSoup Global

The Work of ADB Solidatech and TechSoup Global The project would not be a success today without the collaborative efforts of key stakeholders. The TechSoup French partner, ADB Solidatech, a program of Les Ateliers du Bocage, refurbishes the tablet PCs, ensuring that all confidential data has been deleted, and installs operating systems and software like OneNote. ADB Solidatech also works to increase the impact of Ordyslexie by looking for funding and equipment. It also centralizes requests from the nonprofits who would like to benefit from the solution, distributes the tablet PCs, and fulfills public relations activities in collaboration with its partners. There are plans to develop the project in Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland. Ordyslexie is not just a mere electronic school bag or tablet PC, but a socially innovative project that can change the lives of children who have dyslexia while giving a second life to tablet PCs.

This story originally appeared on the TechSoup Blog.