Inspiration

43.5 million people across the United States alone have dyslexia, a learning disorder that hinders one’s ability to read text, write characters, and even maintain their working memory. The remote conditions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the struggle of dyslexics because of the lack of personalized, one-on-one guidance for many such students. Current tools for dyslexia do not simulate the interactive nature of pre-COVID-19 conditions and simply act as a resource for dyslexics, rather than a substitute for school activities. However, Meliora solves this.

We take specific inspiration from the scientific work done in the past to set the foundation for research on dyslexia. As Scottish ophthalmologist James Hinshelwood discovered, one step of teaching reading to individuals with dyslexia is doing so by sight alone, meaning that the individual reads each word as a separate entity and not as a combination of smaller letters. Not only do we apply this science to the activity we created for Meliora, which focuses on the user memorizing each word as part of a larger sentence, but we also incorporate this concept technologically into our code. Instead of viewing each word in the user-inputted sentence as being made up of letters, we coded each word as being part of an array, which was in accordance with Hinshelwood’s research on the importance of looking at elements as a whole rather than its smaller components.

What it does

Our platform does what so many others have neglected to do. Meliora realistically simulates the memorization and comprehension tests that were commonplace in pre-COVID school by offering a multistage, engaging activity that tests the user’s working memory, suitable for students of all ages. The user starts off by inputting a sentence that they wish to memorize. Each consecutive round, an additional word is omitted from the sentence and replaced with dashes, prompting the user to exercise their working memory to correctly type the corresponding word.

How we built it

We built Meliora using HTML for our website, JavaScript for the backend, and CSS for styling.

Challenges we ran into

During the coding process, we ran into a few problems. An initial challenge we ran into was the development of the Javascript code. We tried several iterations and versions of code to accurately reflect our idea for the project. One was the integration of JavaScript into the HTML that we were using for our user interface. By working with helpful mentors and by researching various sources, we were able to logically brainstorm potential solutions for our problem.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Though we ran into many obstacles through the coding process, we are proud of our ability to resolve these conflicts in a respectful, empathetic, and preceptive manner. Another accomplishment was finishing the backend of our code in a timely manner, despite deciding to switch languages from Python to Javascript midway.

What we learned

Both of us expanded our knowledge in Javascript in this hackathon. We learnt more about the different commands and semantics that are characteristic of the language. We also experimented with several HTML components and learnt different methods of incorporating Javascript and HTML together.

What's next for Meliora

We have several aspirations for the future of Meliora. Our next goal is to perfect the User Interface and add more interactive components, like a chatbox or resources for dyslexia. We also plan on incorporating a database into our code which could collect the emails of the users. Finally, in the long term, we aspire to expand Meliora into a forum for those individuals with dyslexia to form a community.

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