Tiblo Lets Dyslexic Kids Snap Words And Sounds Together Like Legos

Sumit Pandey's prototype educational toy is part building block, part reading aid.

My earlier post on Dyslexie, a typeface optimized for dyslexic readers, got me curious about other dyslexia-related design solutions. A particularly interesting one is Tiblo, an "open-ended learning aid" developed by Sumit Pandey and Swati Srivastava to help dyslexic kids become more facile with words, letters, and phonemes by "connecting" them physically like puzzle pieces.

Each colorful Tiblo is a "modular interactive electronic block" that can record 10 seconds of audio, play it back, and snap with other blocks to form syntactical patterns based on the meaning the kid has assigned to the block. (The blocks are also designed with a broad gridlike surface that kids or teachers can decorate with pictures, letters, pushpins, or anything else they like.) If a child is having trouble reading a written word or sentence, its component parts can be assigned to Tiblo blocks and sounded out individually in the teacher's voice or the child's — and then reconnected in other orientations.

"Children [with] dyslexia, besides having problems with standard written text, are also known to have problems remembering sequences, like in spelling, math problems, and stories," Pandey tells Co.Design. "Also, quite often, children have problems relating to their fine motor skills as well. So by connecting blocks of different colors together and recording voice-based hints into the blocks, the children can build up their own methods of remembering sequences like using color sequences, or using the onboard grid to create visual hints. It also enables the teachers in designing teaching activities which are participatory in nature where children can 'create' personalized solutions to given problems."

Pandey and Srivastava were inspired to create Tiblo while conducting a research project as volunteers at a school for dyslexic children in Ahmedabad, India. They created their prototype out of "circuits from hacked Chinese toys," says Pandey, which has a practical benefit: "Each prototype block costs under $5, [so] they can be given to children permanently and the children can then personalize their look and feel by drawing or papercraft."


This all adds up to a user experience that, ideally, makes the student feel comfortable and emotionally invested in the educational process. "We realized that for children who have shifted from a mainstream school, where more often than not they struggle significantly on an academic front, getting their confidence back and getting involved in the classroom is the biggest challenge. That was the single most important driving factor for the design of Tiblo," Pandey says. "The idea was to develop something that helps children not just on a symptomatic level but on an emotional level as well."

[Read more about Tiblo]

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  • Davis Graham

    Today is the best time ever to be gifted with the Gift of dyslexia.  
    Bookshare, Readplease and Balabolka have changed my life, Google "Davis Graham, dyslexia".  Today I read contracts at 510 words a minute and have read 100's of books from Bookshare and Project Gutenberg.  Failure no longer defines my life.
    Bookshare’s® goal is to make the world of print accessible to people with disabilities. Bookshare is free for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities, thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

  • Davis Graham

    Dear John:
    After a long haul in school for my parents and then in college for myself, failing out of college twice with the Gift of Dyslexia. Today I'm a person with freedom to read and learn and am on the edge of my reading chair for the first time in my 52 year old life.  My bio is at our website at . Today I read up to 510 words per minute with text to speech software  Balabolka, ReadPlease and then for note taking I use XMind, all of which are free software.    From which is free for all US student I receive all my books from best sellers to textbooks.  The combination of Read:Outloud (text to speech software provided by Bookshare) and my books become a virtual read, if I come to a person place or thing I don't know then with one click of the mouse I'm surfing the web for meaning or a picture.  We (dyslectics) are no longer disabled but our gift is enabled.  At there are some links to the tools mentioned above.

  • Neelima Rao

    The article on the Dyslexie typeface had some very pertinent comments from Pam T. I would like to hear her comments on some of the basic assumptions of this project as well. Statements in this article which state how children with dylexia have trouble with math problems etc...