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Dyslexia study sets standard in Japan

Between 10% and 12% of people in the English-speaking world suffer from dyslexia and the UK Government has in place standards for testing and managing it – but in Japan little research had been carried out into the condition.

However, in 2004, Professor Taeko Wydell of Brunel University London's psychology department led research into investigating Japanese children's language and literacy developmental trajectory and identifying dyslexia.

In collaboration with a number of researchers based in Japan, Professor Wydell tested more than 1,315 children from Grade 2 to Grade 6 on their reading and writing skills. The tests found that, contrary to common belief, Japanese children with reading and writing difficulties existed, but weren't identified as dyslexic because of a lack of a standardised test.

The resulting STRAW-I assessment tool has, since 2008, been the only standard testing method for primary school children in Japan. It has had widespread uptake across the country by educationalists, teachers, researchers and psychologists.

The development of STRAW-II followed, encompassing older children as they start to learn English, and funded by the Japanese Ministry of Health.

According to the publisher, Interuna, more than 4,700 copies of the second edition of STRAW were bought by organisations since 2008, with a further 4,000 copies of the first edition bought in 2006/7. Copies have gone to primary school, educational authorities, children's welfare centres, hospitals and universities and the method has been used in every city in Japan.