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First indigenous dyslexia assessment tool launched

The first indigenously developed and widely standardized tool for screening and assessment of dyslexia was released by the Hon’ble Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on October 15, 2015.
The tool, called popularly called DALI or Dyslexia Assessment in Languages of India is a package that contains screening tools for school teachers and assessment tools for psychologists in Indian Languages to identify dyslexia.

It was developed by National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill Development’ policy.
For the first time, India will have indigenously developed screening and assessment tools that have been standardized and validated across a large population of nearly 4840 children. The tools are available in Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and English and development in other languages is in process.

Dyslexia is categorized as a learning disability wherein school children do not achieve adequate reading skills despite normal intelligence, equal opportunity and adequate instruction. It is believed to have an a worldwide incidence of 5-20% and in India the incidence of dyslexia is believed to be 10%. This brings our count of dyslexic Indian children to nearly 35 million.
The assessment of Dyslexia is carried out using a series of age appropriate, culturally valid psychological tests in the native language.

Dyslexia remains undiagnosed in India because of lack of sufficient awareness amongst school teachers and parents and absence of appropriate standardized screening and assessment tools in Indian languages.

It is critical that dyslexia be assessed in all the languages in which a child is provided instruction. Given the education scenario in India wherein children are provided instruction in at least two languages and often three, it is critical that dyslexia be assessed in all of them. In particular, it is necessary that the child be assessed in the native language.

Because of the absence of appropriate standardized screening and assessment tools in Indian languages, the diagnosis of dyslexia in India so far has been incomplete or even unavailable. DALI provides standardised, validated tests in three Indian languages (Hindi, Marathi and Kannada) and English learnt in as a second language.

Given the neuroplasticity of the developing brain, early diagnosis of dyslexia will be beneficial because the child can be taught novel strategies for learning to read write and spell and consequently cope for the disability.

DALI contains two screening tools for dyslexia (for school teachers). These are the JST (Junior Screening Tool) for classes (1-2) and the MST (Middle Screening Tool) for classes (3-5) in four languages– Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and English. It also contains eight standardized and validated assessment Batteries to be used by psychologists.

Earlier, NIMHANS had developed a Specific Learning Disorder Battery for Kannada and English. However it has not been validated and standardized across India.

DALI is the first battery available in multiple Indian languages and has been standardized across the country. It was developed under the leadership of (Principal Investigator) Prof Nandini Chatterjee Singh, Scientist NBRC under the aegis of a project supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

It was standardized and validated across four languages (Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and English) across schools at five centres (4840 children from classes 1-5), Orkids Centre for Learning Disabilities (Co-Investigator,Geet Oberoi), Delhi, Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (Co-Investigator, BhoomikaRastogiKar), University of Allahabad, Allahabad, Maharshtra Dyslexia Association (MDA) (Co-Investigator, Kate Currawala), Mumbai, Dr. Shanta Vaidya Memorial Foundation (Co-Investigator, KshipraVaidya), Pune, and All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) (Co-Investigator, PremaRao), Mysore. The procedure was as follows.

JST and MST (for school teachers) were first developed in English and Hindi at the National Brain Research Centre. Additionally class appropriate assessment batteries for detailed diagnosis by psychologists were also developed at NBRC. Both screening and assessment batteries were piloted on 200 children in the NCR region by ORKIDS New Delhi and fine tuned.

JST, MST and the appropriate batteries for Marathi and Kannada were adapted by MDA and AIISH respectively. Both the screening and assessment batteries were then standardized across 1000 children across the five centres to obtain standard scores. Subsequently the batteries were validated across 4840 children across the five centres.

This is the largest project of its type to have been undertaken in India and was funded by the Cognitive Science Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.