Hebburn’s Learning Lab honoured for its work in overcoming barriers

BT's Simon Yellowley with the Learning Labs team including systems architect Lewis Jackson, marketing manager Bryony Steventon, general manager Andy Gough, multimedia resource developer Liam Robinson and internal sales consultant Emma Sheakey.
BT's Simon Yellowley with the Learning Labs team including systems architect Lewis Jackson, marketing manager Bryony Steventon, general manager Andy Gough, multimedia resource developer Liam Robinson and internal sales consultant Emma Sheakey.

A Hebburn firm has been honoured for its work to help disabled students overcome barriers to education.

Learning Labs was named this year’s ‘Tech for Good’ winner at the North East Dynamites Awards.

I was the best at maths, but the system’s incorrect assumptions discouraged me from performing where I was strongest. I wasn’t identified as having dyslexia until the age of 21, whilst studying at Northumbria University.

Chris Quickfall

The award, described as ‘recognising an organisation that uses digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place’, was presented to Learning Labs for its e-learning portal, designed for disabled students in higher education.

Learning Labs uses digital technology to improve the educational experiences and reduce dropout rates for students with learning difficulties, health issues and disabilities nationwide.

Students in receipt of disabled students allowance (DSA) are supported with access to software to help them overcome barriers to learning.

Learning Labs’ online tutorials are designed to teach students how to use every feature of their software programmes, which can include anything from grammar corrections and read-aloud tools for students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, to mind-mapping and organisational software for students with anxiety or memory difficulties.

A total of 10 applicants entered the Tech for Good category, with only four shortlisted.

Learning Labs CEO Chris Quickfall said: “I was last in my class to spell my name, learn the alphabet and to tell the time.

“I was the best at maths, but the system’s incorrect assumptions discouraged me from performing where I was strongest.

“I wasn’t identified as having dyslexia until the age of 21, whilst studying at Northumbria University.

“Had I been identified and received appropriate support earlier, my experience of education would have been much more positive and my achievements could have been far greater.

“I became passionate about improving processes and services for DSA students. I wanted to create a good company that does good.”

Chris started with his first company, an assistive technology supplier known as Invate, straight out of university in 2006, launching e-Quality Learning in 2010.

He launched Learning Labs in 2013. The group of companies are all headquartered in Hebburn and offer services UK-wide.

Chris’s passion for understanding neurodiversity helped shape the content in Learning Labs’ tutorials.