A 2013 study has shown that ereaders can offer help to those suffering from certain forms of dyslexia to read faster and to understand better what it is they have read.
As you may not realise, there are in fact a whole range of reading disabilities that are covered by the somewhat blanket term, Dyslexia, and each form obviously presents its own problems and potential solutions.
In the case of this experiment, they were concentrating on the form that finds difficulty in separating and comprehending words on a normally laid out book. i.e lots of words in each line of text.
One of the many advantages of all ereaders, whether they be dedicated ones such as the Kobo, or an ebook app on a tablet or smart phone, is the ability to reformat the layout, so it is possible to reduce the number of words per line to one or two words, and also to control the spacing of the words on the screen as well as the font.
What they found was that for the individuals who suffer from this type of dyslexia, being able to reduce the number of words on the screen to as few as two words increased both the reading speed and comprehension of the kids taking part in the experiment.
Or as they put it in the synopsis of the research:-
E-readers are fast rivaling print as a dominant method for reading. Because they offer accessibility options that are impossible in print, they are potentially beneficial for those with impairments, such as dyslexia. Yet, little is known about how the use of these devices influences reading in those who struggle. Here, we observe reading comprehension and speed in 103 high school students with dyslexia. Reading on paper was compared with reading on a small handheld e-reader device, formatted to display few words per line. We found that use of the device significantly improved speed and comprehension, when compared with traditional presentations on paper for specific subsets of these individuals: Those who struggled most with phoneme decoding or efficient sight word reading read more rapidly using the device, and those with limited VA Spans gained in comprehension. Prior eye tracking studies demonstrated that short lines facilitate reading in dyslexia, suggesting that it is the use of short lines (and not the device per se) that leads to the observed benefits. We propose that these findings may be understood as a consequence of visual attention deficits, in some with dyslexia, that make it difficult to allocate attention to uncrowded text near fixation, as the gaze advances during reading. Short lines ameliorate this by guiding attention to the uncrowded span.
They do note however (Before you rush out and buy your Dyslexic kid an expensive ereader), that this benefit does not happen with all dyslexics, so you should borrow a friend’s ereader or tablet first and see if it works for you.
So many advantages to ereaders.
However, this shows yet another benefit that ereaders – in whichever form – can offer to us, and surely if they can help people with Dyslexia this has to be something to celebrate loudly.
Link to the research paper: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0075634
Share with us:
Do you have any experience with using any form of ereading device and someone with Dyslexia? If so, do share that with us here, as for those who suffer from this problem, any help must surely be very welcome indeed.