Local Freemasons donate 32000 to fund University research

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated £32,000 to the University to fund research into visual impairments and the impact these have on different groups and their reading abilities.

The ability to read is of fundamental importance for educational development and is essential for people to function effectively and meet the demands of life and work.

Yet statistics indicate that poor literacy skills remain widespread across the UK with many children leaving school with poor reading abilities and as many as 1 in 6 adults having a reading age of 10 or under. Furthermore, poor literacy skills have been consistently linked with poor life outcomes including poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and long-term illness.

The extent to which subtle variation in visual ability is related to poor reading ability is relatively unknown and establishing the underlying causes of reading difficulties will be a critical first step in developing effective interventions.

The research will examine the reading abilities of several different groups: typically developing readers, developing readers with visual impairments and older adults. The research will focus on a phenomenon known as visual crowding, whereby individual letters become more difficult to identify when surrounded by other letters. Although this phenomenon has been recognised for many years, it is only recently that scientists have identified it as having a significant inhibiting effect on an individual’s ability to read.

Poor reading ability has major economic, social and individual implications and this research will allow for a greater understanding of why different groups have poor reading abilities and will provide the critical data required for future research into how these problems can be alleviated.

Speaking about the donation David Hagger, Head of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: “Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are delighted to be able to support our local University with funding for this project, we wish them every success. Reading is an important life skill which everyone should be able to enjoy.”

The Major Grants Scheme is just one of the initiatives driven by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity which donates around £2.5 million to national charities every year.