Doodle and accessibility: how we support learners with SEN

Here at Doodle, we believe that education is the key to opportunity. Our mission is to empower children to achieve greater confidence in maths and English, one Doodle at a time! 

Ensuring that our apps are accessible to all learners is central to this. From question styles to app interfaces, we’ve designed our apps to provide all children with an equal, engaging and, most importantly, rewarding experience. 

As our founder Nicola comments: “Feeling confident in maths and English is fundamental to our self-esteem. Without these basic skills, our decision-making and our ability to contribute our best to our community is undermined. I believe that with the right support, a little time and effort, everyone can fulfil their potential.”

An equal experience for all

No matter how you try and hide it, children know when they’re grouped with children who are seen to be ‘struggling in maths’ at school. This can negatively affect their attitude towards the subject and, most importantly, impact their self-confidence.

Back when we were first brainstorming ideas for DoodleMaths, we knew we wanted to overcome this problem by creating a solution that would include and engage all learners. 

At an aesthetic level, our app interfaces and questions look exactly the same to all children, regardless of their year group, age or ability.  

Beyond appearances, learning is personalised to each learner. Our Proxima™ algorithm creates unique work programmes tailored around each child’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing all children to learn and progress at a pace that is right for them.  

Fundamentally, our apps reward effort over ability, meaning that all children can Doodle alongside their peers on equal footing. Leaderboards recognise those who have tried hard rather than those who have scored well, enabling all children to experience success. 

In-app accessibility features

Hints and explanations are available for all questions, allowing children to seek assistance and help when they need it.

For visually impaired learners, an in-app magnifying glass can be used to enlarge images, diagrams and text, while a DoodlePad allows any workings or notes to be made on the same screen as the questions. 

All 40,000 questions in our apps also have the option to be audio-dictated. This feature is especially helpful for learners with dyslexia and young children, as hearing is a key part of the multi-sensory way in which learners develop their reading skills.

Supporting different types of learner

All pupils learn in different ways; while ‘look, cover, write, check’ in spelling may work for some children, it may not be a very effective method for others.

That’s why we designed our apps around the three key learning styles (visual, auditory and kinesthetic), using a variety of carefully designed question styles. 

For example, we represent key concepts with pictures, such as using pies to represent fractions and have lots of hands-on experiences for those who learn best by doing, such as measuring angles with an in-app protractor.

Building confidence around the world

Tom and Nicola’s mission is for all children to have access to the fundamentals of maths and English, even in places where there is no formal education. If a child has access to a tablet and the internet, even if only on an occasional basis, they can self-learn maths and English.

Thousands of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Nigeria, Columbia, South Africa and Syrian refugees in Lebanon are currently engaged in Doodle programmes. In 2018, for example, alongside our partner, we supplied 1,200 Kindle Fires with DoodleMaths pre-installed on them to children in Nigeria. 

By listening to user feedback and constantly developing our apps, we hope to be as accessible to all learners, regardless of their ability or background, as possible.

To find out more about using Doodle to support SEN students, be sure to visit our dedicated webpage.

This article was originally published on Bristol Tech Week.

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