St. Killian’s inventors scoop award for dyslexia aid

Kiera McKillop and her mum.
Kiera McKillop and her mum.

Two 14-year-old inventors have been awarded for creating a handheld device which provides multi-sensory learning technology for children with all forms of dyslexia.

Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown, from St Killian’s College, Carnlough, were named winners of the BT Young Pioneer award at the annual Tech4Good Awards in London.

Kiera McKillop and Maggie Philbin OBE.

Kiera McKillop and Maggie Philbin OBE.

The annual awards, run by disability charity AbilityNet and supported by BT recognise organisations and individuals across the UK who use digital technology to improve lives.

The pupils’ dyslexic aid allows users to see, hear, write and say letters to aid learning.

The prototype was built using a Raspberry Pi Computer and a Sense Hat add-on following engagement with the University of Ulster and the British Dyslexia Association.

Kiera said: “We actually can’t believe that we have won this award. We have worked really hard on Dyslexic Aid and winning the BT Young Pioneer Award is just the best feeling. This is just the start for us and we are going to keep on inventing and inspiring others.”

From left] Kate Russell, BBC; Kiera McKillop, St. Killian's College, BT Young Pioneer; Paul OBrien, BT; Mark Walker, AbilityNet.

From left] Kate Russell, BBC; Kiera McKillop, St. Killian's College, BT Young Pioneer; Paul OBrien, BT; Mark Walker, AbilityNet.

Ian Caveney, senior consultant in sustainable business at BT, said: “What impressed us about Dyslexic Aid is how it has brought technology to help support those with an existing difficulty in a new and innovative way. At the same time, the work of Kiera and Sinead should inspire all young people, and those with dyslexia, in particular. It truly shows what you can do with simple, but powerful technology.

“We hope the recognition from this award will help them go on to take the Dyslexic Aid from prototype to marketable reality.”

The students also participated in the 2017 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition held in Dublin in January, when their Dyslexic Aid project was successfully shortlisted for the prestigious event.

The pupils’ teacher, Sean Connolly, was also recognised at this year’s event picking up the ‘Analog Educator of Excellence’ award.

BT is currently encouraging Northern Ireland schools to enter the 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which will take place from January 10 until 13 2018.