Texthelp: Read, Write and Communicate with Greater Confidence

Texthelp is focused on solving large scale social problems related to literacy. It is a vision that the company characterizes as ‘bringing literacy to life’. Currently, U.S. is facing some big literacy challenges in its schools, where 70 percent of 5th graders are reading one grade below their grade level, while 40 percent are reading two grades below. The situation is even worse for English Language Learners – kids whose first language is not English – where almost three quarters are below basic proficiency.

There are all kinds of reasons why these figures are so high, not least the prevalence of dyslexia and other related learning difficulties as well as many forms of social exclusion. Then add into the mix the number of struggling and reluctant readers who simply have not been given the support and encouragement they need at home or in class. So it is a situation that Texthelp is committed to change, one student at a time.



Read&Write takes that idea and ramps it up massively to help students with assistance for whatever they are doing, from word and picture dictionaries to translation tools



The company is using technology creatively to address these challenges, and Texthelp’s software is used in thousands of schoolrooms across North America, Europe and Asia. “Students use our flagship ‘Read&Write’ to help them use and understand classroom documents, websites, write essays and research homework,” says Martin McKay, CTO, Texthelp. Think of word prediction when texting someone with a phone – it’s just a tool that helps people express themselves faster and more fluently. “Read&Write takes that idea and ramps it up massively to help students with assistance for whatever they are doing, from word and picture dictionaries to translation tools,” he adds.
Martin McKay, CTO
Texthelp is strongly technology driven, but what underpins all its products is a foundation of rigorous academic research, with lots of input from real-life teachers and educators around the world. All products of the company are based on the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning), the educational framework that draws on cognitive neuroscience to create a flexible framework for learning that suits learners with a big range of different needs.

“Very early on at Texthelp we saw how important the cloud was going to be in the education market,” states McKay. And presently this is happening with the huge uptake of Google Apps for Education in U.S. schools and colleges. Texthelp predicted that the cloud would be delivering literacyfocused ‘machine intelligence’ applications like text recognition and speech, definitions, word prediction and writing analysis in scale. That’s happening right now – just one of the company’s products is helping students read and write classroom documents aloud with over 1 million sessions per day.
Texthelp has also seen low-cost devices like tablets and Chromebooks having an ultra-disruptive effect on the incumbent players. For the last couple of decades the educational software market has been conservative. Texthelp has been pretty quick to see the opportunities of a ‘post PC world’, and tried to be very agile in bringing the first literacy products for the Chrome browser to market rapidly.

The company is always looking further ahead to find creative new solutions to really tough problems. “Texthelp has always thrived on change, and that’s what makes this company so interesting,” McKay concludes.

Company
Texthelp

Headquarters
Antrim, Northern Ireland

Management
Martin McKay, CTO

Description
Creates smart, easy-to-use support technologies that enable young people and adults to read and write with confidence and independence.