Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty affecting the ability to accurately and fluently read text, it also affects spelling. This means that people with dyslexia:
- find it more difficult to access information presented in only writing
- read much more slowly to the point of impacting understanding
- are less able to skim or scan text
- write hesitantly and much less
- have difficulty with organisation, keeping track of tasks and understanding long chains of instructions
- have negative attitudes to tasks involving reading
People with dyslexia are affected to different degrees but all can benefit from additional support.
One way to remove the barriers presented by dyslexia is to use assistive technologies.
iRead and its predecessor project iLearnRW focused on developing innovative solutions in the area of speech-assisted reading.
Using text-to-speech to read texts or listening to audiobooks is very powerful. In previous projects, we have collected research showing the benefits of using speech alongside or instead of printed word.
This presentation developed based on what we learned from iLearnRW, presents simple and affordable tools for parents and teachers to get started with using speech to assist with their reading.
Dyslexia Action’s assistive technology blog has a number of posts focused on tools for using text-to-speech and audiobooks.
Many of these have been compiled into an ebook on Assistive Technologies.
Using speech recognition to dictate texts completely transforms the ability of dyslexic people to produce the writing of which they are capable. It is one of the most powerful technologies that has matured greatly in the last few years.
These posts on Dyslexia Action’s technology blog evaluate different tools for speech recognition.
- Using speech recognition to take notes, search and help with maths
- Free speech recognition with Google Docs
- Review of Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dyslexia also affects organisation, planning and creating outlines.
The Organisation section on Dyslexia Action’s Assistive technologies guide has more detail.
Other relevant posts are:
Creating texts that pay attention to difficulties presented by dyslexia and other learning difficulties means that they are easier to access by everyone. They will focus on:
- Presenting text in small chunks
- Structuring texts to make up for difficulties with scanning and skimming
- Increasing spacing between lines, words, and characters
- Highlighting important information
- Using clear, undistorted fonts
- Avoiding very high contrast
Much is made about dyslexia-friendly fonts but research shows that they are not of much benefit. Sans Serif fonts are strongly preferred but fonts designed for dyslexia show very little benefit. Fonts are more a matter of personal preference but it is important to produce documents where people can change fonts to suit their needs. This website presents more information about font choice.
You can read more about dyslexia-friendly texts in these posts: