SoapBox Labs Brings Child-Centered Voice AI to Dyslexia Detection Assessment
Kid-focused voice technology developer SoapBox Labs and literacy assessment creator Early Bird Education have partnered on a project to spot and diagnose dyslexia in children. Soapbox will augment EarlyBird’s dyslexia screener with its speech recognition AI to measure a child’s oral language skills and potentially figure out any obstacles to their learning how to read even before they begin.
Early Bird Soapbox
EarlyBird’s reading assessment is designed to use voice technology to pick out potential indicators of dyslexia and other learning difficulties early on. EarlyBird has been used in more than 100 school districts by more than 20,000 pre-kindergarten through first-grade students. SoapBox’s technology will streamline the process and help more teachers better help their students learn to read by identifying which of them may need dyslexic-specific teaching methods. The thrice-year EarlyBird assessments use a cheerful robot on a screen to guide a child through the evaluation. The robot lets the child know it’s time for them to talk by holding out a microphone in their direction. The results are immediately compiled and shared with the teacher. SoapBox and its child-specific voice engine can better detect the signs of dyslexia in kids because of how it was trained. That extends to different dialects and accents among children, a distinction that earned the startup certification from education nonprofit Digital Promise for Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design.
“Our mission is to change the learning trajectory of pre-readers with a proactive approach to reading support — and speech recognition enables educators to do that, consistently and without bias,” EarlyBird Education CEO Carla Small said. “Not only does speech recognition technology enable educators to assess oral language skills much earlier and faster, the technology intentionally draws upon a diverse set of young accents and dialects, to help mitigate racial bias and subjectivity in assessment. SoapBox Labs was an obvious partner for us — they share our commitment to developing innovative edtech tools that are grounded in the science and embrace evidence-based practice.”
The new partnership continues SoapBox’s recent run of deals and distinctions. Before the certification mentioned above, SoapBox scored a significant deal to add its tech to literacy education technology developer Imagine Learning’s Fluent Reader+ reading assessment tool in April. That followed the start of a partnership with MetaMetrics to embed SoapBox tech in the Lexile Framework of oral reading tests, the creation of a literacy test for Florida State University’s Florida Center for Reading Research, and contracting with several educational institutions like McGraw Hill and Amplify.
“Speech pathologists perform high-quality assessments that include oral responses, but teachers rarely have access to tools with that level of sophistication. Unfortunately, they’re missing data that would help them to identify potential reading difficulties in young children,” SoapBox CEO Martyn Farrows said. “Our partnership with EarlyBird makes this gold-standard approach to reading assessment more readily available at scale to teachers. The implications for our youngest learners — and their dedicated teachers — is really exciting.”