Principal Investigator: Professor Sebastian Crutch

Lead institution: University College London

Award amount: £158,179.56

Facilitating reading in posterior cortical atrophy

Professor Sebastian Crutch and his research team at the Dementia Research Centre, University College London, have developed an app to facilitate reading in people living with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). PCA is a form of degenerative dementia that causes progressive loss of higher visual function, with reading impairment being one of the early symptoms of the condition. Reading is crucial in our lives and the compromise of this ability has a dramatic impact in our level of independence and quality of life.

Read-Clear is a tablet-based app, which aims to alleviate the following symptoms:

  • Visual disorientation (getting lost on the page)
  • Visual crowding (words cluttering up)
  • Oculomotor apraxia (difficulty following text along a line)

The app runs on Android devices and allows users to stream chosen content, such as a selected number of books and news. Prior to the development of the app, the research team designed and validated text manipulation techniques which would compensate for the issues outlined above, with the proof of concept paper published in the leading journal Neurology. These techniques were later implemented in the software that would be Read-Clear.

Read-Clear was developed for and with people living with PCA and their families, ensuring the tool was tailored to meet the needs of this community. The app is freely available in English, Spanish and French in the Google Play Store.

Co-applicants on this grant were Dr Alexander Leff and Dr Keir Yong.The members of Read-Clear’s research team were Research Associate Dr Aida Suarez-Gonzalez, software developer Ashley Peacock, PhD students Dilek Ocal and Ivanna Pavisic, and MSc student Michelle Naessens. This piece of work has been possible thanks to the generous contribution of the members of the PCA Support Group.