NoticeAbility, a non-profit organization focused on promoting the unique abilities of children with dyslexia, recently hosted a Shark Tank-style event in Martha’s Vineyard. Children with dyslexia got the opportunity to pitch the audience on their solutions to common problems.
NoticeAbility worked with the kids over the course of an academic semester, helping three entrepreneurial teams to work on and refine their ideas and presentations.
The three groups of students presented ideas on how to protect documents from spills; a business model offering dogs on demand for people who can’t take care of pets all the time, such as the elderly and people living in high-rises; and a smartphone app designed to help people locate lost items.
NoticeAbility is a brand new non-profit founded by Dean Bragonier that started operating in several Massachusetts school districts in the fall of 2016. Its mission is to highlight the strengths of children with dyslexia, thereby improving their self-esteem and chances of success in life.
Mr. Bragonier, the founder, is himself dyslexic and pointed out the many strengths of the community in a recent interview. He said, “We have an ability to look at a situation and identify seemingly disparate pieces of information and blend those into a narrative or a tapestry that makes sense to us that other people can’t see.” He further noted that these qualities give rise to tremendous rates of success in entrepreneurship, architecture and engineering. NASA, for example, has a workforce that is 50% dyslexic.
As for the students, the experience has led to a growth in confidence in their abilities. Christian Turner was part of the group that pitched the pet-rental service. Yvette, his mother, has been amazed at the positive influence that NoticeAbility’s program has had, saying, “This program has been wonderful for him and his self-confidence. He has more self-confidence; he can actually talk with his friends and his peers. He feels good about himself with them. His reading has taken off.”
The program has also helped the children by helping them find a peer group. When the students see other smart kids with dyslexia, it lets them feel better about their own abilities. Michaela Benefit was part of the group that designed a smartphone app for finding lost items. She said, “I feel like knowing that there are more people out there with the same disability as us makes it more comfortable and more welcoming to know that we’re not alone with dyslexia.”
Dean Bragonier has no intention of standing pat with NoticeAbility. He plans to expand his program to other regional schools soon. He thinks NoticeAbility can lend hope to children with dyslexia, noting “I won’t say we’ve created a panacea, but we’ve created a counterbalance. I’ve seen a lot of these kids become invested in this notion that there is a silver lining to dyslexia. And that’s really what our objective is, to build that confidence.”
If NoticeAbility’s first semester is any indication, their programs will continue to provide support to the dyslexic community for years to come.
For more about NoticeAbility, visit: http://www.noticeability.org/
This piece is based on an article written by Stacey Rupolo and published by the Martha Vineyards Times, which can be viewed here.