Swansea research to increase awareness of dyslexia in Eastern Europe
A €500K funded project which aims to overcome stigmatization of students with dyslexia in the Balkans is being led by Professor Angela Fawcett, Director of the College of Human and Health Sciences Centre for Child Research.
The project entitled Identification and Support in Higher Education for Dyslexic Students (ISHEDS) is one of 18 projects chosen from 240 to represent the twentieth anniversary of Tempus – a European Union Programme to support the modernisation of higher education in the partner countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region, mainly through university cooperation projects.
This is the first time that Swansea University has participated in a Tempus funded project, which is a collaboration between Professor Fawcett and Dr Margaret Meehan, a Research Officer in Public Health and Policy Studies based at Swansea University, the University of Tuzla, Bosnia; University of Belgrade, Serbia; University of Zagreb, Croatia; University of Babes Bolya, Romania; Hungarian Academy of Science; and the University of Llubjiana, Slovenia.
The initial idea for the project was instigated by Mirela Duranovic of the University of Tuzla, Bosnia, who contacted Professor Fawcett, a leading international researcher into dyslexia and editor of the journal Dyslexia, to assist with developing the proposal.
Professor Fawcett said: “The idea for the ISHEDS project evolved while I was preparing the proposal. We had planned to work on screening and support for school age children with dyslexia, but we needed to fit within the criteria for the EU Tempus, which was concentrated on Higher Education.”
Since the project inception partners have already held a series of workshops, developed tools for screening dyslexia, produced support material in seven languages and created a website in partnership with Dr Ian Smythe from Ibis Consultants.
Professor Fawcett has given keynote speeches at conferences in Gdansk, Poland, and in Brazil and has also contributed jointly with Dr Meehan to a Polish publication on dyslexia screening and support in HE.
The project has been particularly successful in increasing recognition of dyslexia in Bosnia. Professor Fawcett explains: “Recent conferences on the subject attracted over 180 people and four television news crews, and sparked a 20 minute phone in programme on dyslexia on prime time television. This has led to governance reform in the University of Tuzla, where for the first time students with dyslexia can receive support and are entitled to extra time in their examinations.”
She concludes: “We hope that the project will have far reaching implications, and raise awareness about the importance of understanding dyslexia in the education setting.”
For more information on the College of Human and Health Sciences Centre for Child Research visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk/humanandhealthsciences/Departments/ChildrenandYoungPeoplesHealthandWell-being/
More information on Tempus can be found here