R1 Research Report

This report contains summarized information collected from 5 countries, namely: Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Latvia on the topic of developing virtual reality educational tools to support class accommodation and peer-level based learning for students with dyslexia and how those tools and approaches, need to be elaborated before the situation can be changed for the better.

Briefly, in Latvia the term Dyslexia is mentioned in the regulation of the Medical Board of Education, which issues a certificate that a pupil has special needs. Students with dyslexia are typically given a programme code for a language or learning disability (LD). Secondary schools do not have licensed programmes with the codes most frequently given to students with dyslexia. In other words, dyslexic young people are left with little or no support. Consequently, the relevance of the national study was immense.

The Ministry of Education and Science in Bulgaria put efforts into hiring a speech therapist at each school but up to now only the kinder gardens and some of the primary schools this problem is solved at a certain level. In most of the schools speech therapists are part of the teams of the Regional Centers for Support of Inclusive Education who mainly works with SEN students twice a week. NGOs working in that sphere inform that teachers at mainstream schools are not prepared to recognize students with dyslexia which leads to lack of support and mistakes in diagnostic process treating them sometimes as SEN students.

In Germany, students with disabilities are protected under Basic Law (Grundgesetz (since 1980), Book Twelve of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch XII), and the constitutions of each Länder (the 16 states in Germany) (EAS- NIE, Country Information for Germany, 2018). Specific policies protecting students with disabilities are contained in the 1994 Recommendation on Special Education in the Schools of the Federal Republic of Germany (1994 Recommendation). Most recent guidance, updated in 2011, is found in Recommendation on Inclusive Education in Schools of the Federal Republic of Germany (EASNIE, Country Information for Germany, 2018). These policies protect students who may experience difficulty in school because of specific disabilities (e.g., blind/visual impairment, deaf/hearing impairment, intellectual disability, behavioral problems), problematic situations, or because of “temporary learning difficulties (e.g., slow learners, reading and writing difficulties)”.

As regarding Greece, only the last two decades the Greek Education System pays attention to the special educational needs of dyslexic pupils. In ordinary primary schools, dyslexic children may receive learning support on a part-time, withdrawal basis. There are around 700 learning support classes (inclusion classes) serving predominately urban and semi-urban areas (about one in four schools with 6 or more classes). This service caters for a wide range of special educational needs providing support for the 1.6% of all primary school children.

For Italy, through the approval of the law n. 170 in 2010, indeed, educational institutions are invited to identify the tools to use in order to ensure pupils affected by dyslexia the same level of learning as they peer. Moreover, teachers and educators should elaborate special and ad hoc plans according to the pupils’ exigence. Because dyslexia, together with dysgraphia, dysorthography and dyscalculia have been classified as Specific learning disabilities (Disturbi Specifici dell’Apprendimento- DSA). Then, primary, secondary, and higher education students are entitled to not carry out specific tasks and activities that could be difficult because of the learning disturb.