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25 November 2010 | PR 10/180

Loughborough University develops first UK online screener for dyscalculia in adults

A mathematics support tutor at Loughborough University has developed a special tool to give adults an indication of whether they are at risk of dyscalculia, a hidden condition resulting in poor numeracy skills which impacts on sufferer’s daily lives.

Clare Trott from Loughborough University’s Mathematics Education Centre has been working on the project in conjunction with Nigel Beacham for a number of years and she is now joined by assistive technology specialist iansyst Ltd and public sector service provider Tribal in order for the project to be rolled out commercially.

It is estimated that between three to six percent of adults could have dyscalculia, but many remain unidentified as screening is currently only available in children. Dyscalculics face challenges each day with tasks such as household budgeting, checking change or helping children with homework. It can lead to people being labelled as stupid, or labelling themselves because they get frustrated with their inability to use everyday sums.

Clare has been working on the UK’s first online screener, DysCalculiUM, which highlights adults displaying signs of dyscalculia. In turn this will mean individuals can seek further help. DysCalculiUM is designed to be administered by learning and disability support teams in colleges and universities as well as by human resources professionals in the workplace. Identifying why individuals struggle with numeracy is the first step to overcoming difficulties and reaching their full potential in their studies or in the workplace.

Clare has conducted extensive research and trialling of DysCalculiUM. “As up to 60 per cent of people with dyslexia have problems with maths, very little research has focussed solely on dyscalculia and how it can be overcome. Recent advances in neuroscience have increased our understanding of both an individual’s numerical and mathematical processing”, she explains. “However, awareness of dyscalculia as a disability is still very low. DysCalculiUM has been developed at the University over the past six years and now our partnership with iansyst and Tribal will enable adults all over the UK to access this significant tool.”

Loughborough University’s Enterprise Office licensed DysCalculiUM to iansyst in order for it to be delivered online through Tribal’s Advance learning platform. The website and manual have been specifically designed to meet the needs of users and organisations and includes materials to assist users through the screening process. The process creates a profile on the user with 11 categories highlighting what they conceptually understand and how they apply mathematical knowledge, six focussing on the adult’s understanding of numbers and a further five looking at different applications of numbers like telling the time and understanding tables of information.

Phil Dickens, Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise) said: “This is an excellent example of how Loughborough University expertise can be commercially developed for societal and economic benefit. I am delighted that it has resulted in the launch of the UK’s first dyscalculia screener for adults.”

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

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Debbie Hughes
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: D.L.Hughes@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1.  As dyscalculia is officially recognised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, funding is available to those with the condition either in Higher Education or in the workplace through the Access to Work scheme.

2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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