Dyscalculia Screener to Reveal Extent of Hidden Disability in Adults

Cognitive Disabilities

Author: Livewire PR
Published: 2010/11/29
Contents: Summary - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: An estimated 3 to 6 percent of adults could have the hidden disability dyscalculia which affects fundamental ability to acquire arithmetical skills.


Loughborough University develops UK's first online dyscalculia screener to reveal extent of 'hidden' disability in adult population.

Main Digest

Imagine waking in the morning without being able to tell the time, or buying groceries and being unable to check your change. All seemingly simple mathematical tasks for most people, but for up to an estimated six percent of the UK adult population with dyscalculia, this is a daily reality.

Tested only in children until now, an estimated three to six(1) percent of adults could have the 'hidden disability' dyscalculia which affects the fundamental ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Many are still unidentified. Developed by Loughborough University's Mathematics Education Center (MEC) in partnership with assistive technology specialist iansyst Ltd (www.iansyst.co.uk) and public sector service provider Tribal, DysCalculiUM is the UK's first online screener to highlight adults displaying signs of dyscalculia.

Only recognized in recent years, in the same way dyslexia was 30 years ago, dyscalculia has led to many people being labeled (or labelling themselves) as stupid because they cannot do 'simple sums'. With statistics showing that people with poor numeracy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed as those who are competent(2), dyscalculia can impact dramatically on the life chances of those with the condition. The average person uses maths up to 14 times a day(3), resulting in dyscalculics facing many challenges and frustrations with simple tasks such as household budgeting, calculating credit card interest rates or helping their children with homework.

As up to sixty percent of people with dyslexia have difficulties with maths(4), very little research has focused solely on dyscalculia and how to overcome it. Following the study of a student with fundamental numerical and mathematical difficulties displaying no signs of dyslexia, experts at Loughborough University's MEC identified the need for an adult dyscalculia screener. DysCalculiUM now marks the first step towards identifying dyscalculia and enabling individuals to seek further help.

Administered by learning and disability support personnel in colleges and universities and human resource professionals in the workplace, DysCalculiUM creates a profile on each person using 11 categories based on what they understand mathematically. Helping identify what an individual conceptually understands and how they can apply mathematical knowledge, six categories focus on an adult's understanding of numbers and five cover different applications of numbers such as telling the time and understanding tables of information.

Identifying why individuals struggle with numeracy is always the first step to helping them overcome these difficulties and go on to reach their full potential in education and the workplace. DysCalculiUM offers a quick and effective method of profiling numeracy difficulties. Once adults are identified as being at risk of dyscalculia, a suitable support regime or formal assessment can be put in place This will enable the individual to receive further help and support. As dyscalculia is officially recognized as a disability under The Equality Act 2010, funding is made available to those with the condition both in Higher Education and the workplace though the Access to Work scheme.

Responsible for extensive background research, content development and trialling of DysCalculiUM, Clare Trott, Mathematics Support Tutor at Loughborough University, comments: "Recent advances in neuroscience have increased our understanding of both numerical and mathematical processing, however, awareness of dyscalculia as a disability is still very low. DysCalculiUM has been in development at the university for over six years and now our partnership with iansyst and Tribal will enable adults all over the UK to access this significant tool."

Delivered online through Tribal's Advance learning platform, DysCalculiUM is available anytime, anywhere with an internet connection enabling users to log on at a time and place convenient to them. Developed in partnership with assistive technology specialist iansyst Ltd, the web site, test and manual have been meticulously designed to meet the needs of the users and organizations. The secure DysCalculiUM portal enables administrators to access user's reports and profiles at any time, as well as materials to assist with supporting the users through the screening process.

Abi James, Head of Product Innovation at iansyst Ltd, comments: "With a fifth of adults in the UK not possessing the basic numeracy skills needed for everyday life, it is imperative that people with dyscalculia are identified and properly supported. We wanted to provide a screening solution that met the needs of colleges, universities and employers. Creating the partnership with Tribal and Loughborough University, has enabled DysCalculiUM to become a significant step towards wider recognition of the disability and proper support for adults with the condition."

Siobhan Hall, Sales Director for Digital Learning at Tribal Group, comments: "Demonstrating our continued commitment to putting the learner at the heart of technology, DysCalculiUM is intuitive, easy to use and available to users anytime, anywhere. Working in partnership with Loughborough University and iansyst has enabled us to expand our portfolio of assessment and screening tools to people with disabilities and represents an exciting time for us."

For further information about DysCalculiUM, please contact: 01223 420101 or email: dyscalculium@iansyst.co.uk.

(1) www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/schools-colleges-and-universities/dyscalculia.html [figures based on children with dyscalculia]

(2) www.niace.org.uk/current-work/area/numeracy

(3) news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7027569.stm

(4) www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/schools-colleges-and-universities/dyscalculia.html

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