E-readers help kids with dyslexia

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

e-reader font
Dyslexic kids had an easier time with the font sizes available on e-reader devices.

Learning a written language is a really tough thing to do, but for individuals with dyslexia, it’s much harder. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it especially difficult to read, write, and spell. In addition, people born with the condition have trouble relating sounds and words together. Even though it lasts a lifetime, there are ways for dyslexic individuals to overcome their disability. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, smart gadgets are one of them!

The researchers were inspired to study high-tech aids after numerous dyslexic people reported using e-readers for pleasure. “They said it was a much more comfortable experience,” explained Jenny Thomson, a study author who worked at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education at the time. “We wanted to take a closer look.”

Thomson and her research team studied 103 students who had difficulty reading, providing them with text on a sheet of paper or on an iPod. The font size was 14 on the sheet of paper… and 42 on the iPod! As you can imagine, the words on the electronic screen were really large, and there were only about three words per line.

According to the results, many of the dyslexic students could comprehend what they were reading more easily if it was on the iPod. Some dyslexics have what is known as a “low VA Span Score” – where their eyes move along a line of text faster than they can understand what is being read. Most book publishing companies try to fit as many words as possible on one page, so it can appear especially cluttered for people with the disorder. On e-readers, individuals can control how big or small they want the text, which is awesome for dyslexics with low VA Span Scores.

“It’s great news,” Thomson said. “Our study shows that you don’t have to create a new device, you can use the technology many people already have to help people read better. It’s such an easy thing you could do.”

Featured image courtesy of kodomut on Flickr. Image of large font display courtesy of Randy H. Goodman on PLOS One.