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Interactive e-Books to Support Reading Skills in Dyslexia



Developmental dyslexia is the specific learning disability in reading that affects the ability to read written text. In the current paper we explore the potential offered by interactive e-book technologies for supporting reading in people with developmental dyslexia. An important aspect of interactive e-books, which cannot be easily achieved with traditional printed media, is the ease of customizing the text layout in a way that can potentially help those with reading difficulties. We discuss findings from empirical studies in psychology and accessibility that identify best practices for presenting electronic text for readers with dyslexia. Moreover, given the spreading availability of e-readers and the flexibility provided by e-books to present content in different ways, we discuss the opportunities of using interactive e-books for improving reading skills. We believe that interactive e-books can be used not only as a support for facilitating reading but also as a way to develop and enhance the learning abilities of dyslexic readers.
Interactive e-Books to Support
Reading Skills in Dyslexia
Gianluca Schiavo
University of Trento
Trento (Italy)
Vanessa Buson
Centro per i DSA e
le Difficoltà Scolastiche - il Cigno
Verona (Italy)
Developmental dyslexia is the specific learning disability in
reading that affects the ability to read written text. In the current
paper we explore the potential offered by interactive e-book
technologies for supporting reading in people with developmental
dyslexia. An important aspect of interactive e-books, which cannot
be easily achieved with traditional printed media, is the ease of
customizing the text layout in a way that can potentially help those
with reading difficulties. We discuss findings from empirical
studies in psychology and accessibility that identify best practices
for presenting electronic text for readers with dyslexia. Moreover,
given the spreading availability of e-readers and the flexibility
provided by e-books to present content in different ways, we
discuss the opportunities of using interactive e-books for
improving reading skills. We believe that interactive e-books can
be used not only as a support for facilitating reading but also as a
way to develop and enhance the learning abilities of dyslexic
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI):
General Terms
Design, Human Factors.
Interactive e-Books; Dyslexia; Learning Disabilities; Reading
Developmental dyslexia is a specific learning disorder
characterized by difficulties in reading acquisition despite
adequate intelligence, conventional education, motivation to learn
and sociocultural opportunity [1]. Dyslexia is characterized by a
distinctive cognitive profile with specific areas of strength and
weakness. People with developmental dyslexia have a preference
for thinking visually rather than verbally and distinctive perceptual
abilities, such as sharper peripheral vision [10]. However, dyslexic
people face challenges in acquiring automaticity in reading. As a
result, reading is slow and error prone, which may influence
reading comprehension and learning from text, with negative
effects on the person’s education and self esteem.
Several theories have been proposed for explaining the cognitive
profile that characterizes dyslexia and its reading impairment (for
a review see [5]). The more prominent theories view the reading
difficulties as a consequence of a specific phonological deficit (the
phonological theory), a deficit in the visual processing of letters
and words (the magnocellular theory) or a coordination
dysfunction (the cerebellar theory). These theories are still widely
debated, but it is well established that developmental dyslexia has
a neurobiological basis with a genetic origin.
Since dyslexia is a developmental disorder [5], it is present at birth
and its effects are lifelong. However, reading difficulties can be
reduced with early intervention that integrates appropriate training
and the support of technology [9]. This paper provides an
overview of technological tools that facilitate reading for dyslexic
users, with a specific focus on interactive e-books. Specifically,
the main contribution is a review of the literature on the text
formatting that should be adopted for facilitating the reading of
digital material, and a discussion on how interactive e-books can
be used in the intervention for reading difficulties.
Readers with dyslexia found difficulties in reading text formatted
in traditional ways. The main obstacles that a dyslexic reader
might encounter while attempting to read text include:
Visual recognition difficulties, such as difficulties in recognizing
and identifying words, letters and numbers. Word identification is
also slowed by the effect of visual crowding, a perceptual
phenomenon that refers to the interference of flanking letters on
the recognition of target letters [20 , 18].
Phonological and orthographical difficulties that manifest
themselves as problems in associating written letters (grapheme)
with their specific sounds (phonemes) and in relating the sounds
of language to letters and words with a consequent latency in
These obstacles have an impact on the reading performance,
leading to:
Slow and error-prone reading;
Misspelled words and difficulties in identifying and
remembering complex and new words;
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Poor reading comprehension;
Fatigue after reading for a short time.
Moreover, the reading impairment may be accompanied by
difficulties in writing, especially in spelling and handwriting.
However, several studies have demonstrated that specific training
programs and supports, such as changes in the text presentation,
can improve reading performances and content comprehension [9,
5]. In the last decades technology has become an essential tool for
helping dyslexic readers. In fact, the development of strategies for
coping with reading difficulties often relies on the use of
technology: children with dyslexia are encouraged to use
computers for studying, both at school and at home. As a result,
many students with dyslexia use technology such as:
Software programs that combine OCR (optical character
recognition) and text-to-speech (speech synthesizer),
allowing automatic reading;
Speech recognition applications to translate spoken words
into text, which support the process of typing and spelling;
Spell-checkers and spell-predictors for aiding writing and
manipulating text;
Software for creating concept and mind maps to organize
the information in a visual manner.
Many of these functions are already integrated in most popular
operating systems (across different platforms, from desktops to
tablets and mobiles) and are embedded in many applications
available for the wide audience, such as the voice recognition
technology in Apple’s OS X and iOS, the optical character
recognition provided by Google Drive and the spell-checker
included in office software suits. These functions can be integrated
in interactive e-books and in e-reader applications. In addition to
this, interactive e-books can be used to support the activity of
reading electronic content by manipulating the text formatting.
Research based on a sample of non-dyslexic readers suggests that
reading content using electronic media, such as e-book readers, is
comparable in terms of reading performance and text
comprehension to reading text presented in traditional paper [11].
Nevertheless, these results might differ when considering readers
with dyslexia: presenting text through an electronic media can
indeed provide a substantial support for this portion of the readers'
population [17].
Empirical evidence from psychological research has demonstrated
the effect that certain manipulations of the perceptual features of
the text may have on speed, accuracy and reading comprehension
in readers with dyslexia [13, 20, 18]. Among e-book applications,
many functions have been proposed for formatting the text in
customized ways. These functions include modification of the
font, rearrangement of the page layout and manipulations of the
dynamics of reading [16, 17].
Guidelines for designing dyslexic-friendly content can be found in
the area of Web accessibility [4, 12]. The British Dyslexia
Association (BDA) [2] has proposed a set of recommendations on
how to present “dyslexia friendly” text, with suggestions for both
digital and printed content. This list contains a considerable set of
recommendations, and suggests good practices for making
material visually accessible for readers with dyslexia. However,
the list is not based on empirical evidence and does not include
recent findings, such as the potential benefit of using short lines of
text [18] and a bigger letter spacing [20]. BDA’s guideline has
been compared with a set of specications for the visually
impaired users [6]. The comparison suggests that accessibility
recommendations for minimizing visual discomfort and for
facilitating the visual part of the reading process of web pages can
benefit dyslexic, partially sighted and non-impaired users as well
[6 , 12].
The following list (and Table 1) present a summary of
recommendations obtained from [2, 4, 12] and combined with
recent empirical research from psychology and education:
Typeface (i.e. font families): Guidelines suggest the use of
typefaces that facilitate visual distinction between similar
characters: for example, having long ascenders and descenders or
avoiding mirror images for b/d, p/q and u/n. Moreover, sans-serif
typefaces should be preferred. For these reasons, accessible
guidelines recommend typefaces such as Verdana, Arial or
Helvetica. Some typefaces have been specifically designed for
readers with dyslexia (such as the free typefaces Lexia Readable
and Open-Dyslexic
) but more empirical research is needed to
assess the benefits of using special font families compared to
common ones [15]. Moreover, a study suggested that using
slightly harder-to-read fonts might improve reading
comprehension of short pieces of text in non-dyslexic and dyslexic
students [8]. However, it is not clear whether using slightly
harder-to-read fonts has an effect on long-term outcomes.
Font size: It is recommended to use a relatively big font size,
ranging from 12 and 16 pt. It has been proved that a larger font
size enhances reading speed and accuracy of younger and dyslexic
readers [14]. However, its relation with inter-letter and inter-line
spacing should be considered [18].
Inter-letter and line spacing: It has been found that a bigger
inter-letter spacing facilitates reading in children with dyslexia
[20]. Increasing the letter space of 2.5 pt can indeed improve
reading performances in terms of time and accuracy in dyslexic
children. Furthermore, adding spacing between lines can contrast
the crowding effect especially in weaker readers [18, 17]. A
stronger effect is expected from the co-variation of line and inter-
letter spacing.
Line length: Shorter lines ameliorate reading speed and
comprehension of both digital and paper-based text by helping to
guide attention [18]. Moreover, reading digital material on a small
screen displaying 2.1 words per line, compared to traditional
presentations on paper showing 12 words per line, improves
reading speed and comprehension [17]. Major benefits have been
observed for dyslexic readers with diminished visual attentive
resources. It was hypothesized that short lines might generally
improve reading speed and comprehension by having an effect on
the oculomotor behavior, reducing the probability that crowded
text in locations previously fixated can be perceived [18].
Contrast: Contrast sensitivity has been reported to differ between
dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers. Specifically, it has been
proposed that dyslexic readers might benefit from low-contrast
text, but this hypothesis has received weak or no support form
empirical studies in psychology [13]. However, guidelines suggest
to use dark colored text on a light (not-white) background.
Lexia Readable:
Table 1. Summary of recommended formatting styles
Sans-serif typefaces.
No agreement on the best
typeface (Verdana, Arial
or typefaces specifically
designed for dyslexia)
[15, 8]
Font size
Relatively big fonts (size
between 12 and 16 pt)
[14, 20]
and line
Letter space of 2.5 pt
[20, 18, 17]
Line length
Short lines
[18, 17]
and text color
Background with light
colors and text in black or
dark grey.
No clear empirical
evidence on the
benefits of these
Right-aligned text should
be preferred.
Use bold for emphasizing
Alignment and emphasizes: Right aligned text should be
preferred. Justified text might create large uneven spaces between
words, making reading difficult. Italics and underlined words
should be avoided; it is suggested to use instead bold for
emphasizing. However, there is no strong empirical data in the
literature to support these claims.
It is important to note that inter-subjective variability in setting up
the optimal values for these parameters is high, and it is inherently
difficult to provide defined guidelines for a general profile of users
with dyslexia. It is thus recommended to use a customizable and
flexible environment, where the user, or someone on his behalf
such as the therapist, the teacher or the parent, can adjust the
values and configure their desired text layout.
Moreover, the studies considered in our review are based on
samples with different age ranges: from primary school children
[20, 14, 8], to high school students [17, 18, 13] to adults [15]. It is
thus difficult to claim whether modification on the formatting
could best support preschoolers, young readers or adults with
dyslexia. According to clinical guidelines, dyslexia should be
diagnosed after children have reached the first or second grade but
it might be the case that adapting the text presentation might also
benefit preschoolers and early-learners.
The flexibility afforded by e-books and e-readers to modify text
formats demonstrate the potential in using these technologies to
support reading with dyslexia. A number of applications have
been designed for this purpose, taking into account some of the
parameters presented in our review. These are mainly e-reader
applications (e.g. [16]) and tools for adapting the presentation of
Web content (e.g. [12]). However, reformatting the page might
address the accessibility shortcomings of traditional formatted text
or of printed books, but not necessarily improve the users
experience when reading. In the next paragraph, we outline the
specific benefits that interactive e-books might integrate not only
for making text more accessible but also for developing the
learning skills of dyslexic readers.
As previously discussed, interactive e-books can make reading
easier for those with dyslexia because they permit formatting
changes of the written text. Notwithstanding, the modification
alone cannot address all of the difficulties faced by dyslexic
readers [18].
A promising line of research investigates how e-books and e-
readers can support different methods of reading with respect to
traditional paper-based books, providing solutions that better meet
the cognitive style of readers with dyslexia [3]. For example, an e-
book can be read on portable handheld devices that might have
small screens. Recent studies have provided evidence that using
small-screen devices, such as smartphones, might help people with
dyslexia to read faster and more accurately. It has been found that
reading written content on a 3.5-inch screen using a particular
method of text presentation, so that the text spans only a few
words per line, improves speed and accuracy in students with
dyslexia. This reading method, which can be implemented with
commercially available e-reader software
, might limit the
attention span and reduce the demands on visual attention and
memory [18, 17]. Moreover, holding the e-reader in the hand has
proven to positively influence reading performance in dyslexic
readers with reduced attentional resources. Having the text placed
in proximity to the hand might help to maintain the focus of
attention on the text, preventing visual interferences and
improving allocation of attention [18]. Yet, major benefits have
been observed specifically for dyslexic students who struggle most
with phoneme decoding or have limited attentional span.
In addition, interactive e-books are tools that can easily permit the
authoring of the content and its adaptation at different levels (e.g.
formatting, content, modality). These features make e-books
potential tools for supporting the treatment of reading difficulties.
For instance, within a reading skills training program a therapist
can modify the text properties (e.g. formatting, text length,
dynamic of text presentation) of the children’s e-readers for
adapting them to the characteristics of the training. The flexibility
provided by e-books allows the therapist to adjust the parameters
according to the progress achieved as the training program
progresses. The therapist can also monitor the progress and adjust
the text properties remotely using the Web.
Interactive e-books might also be designed to harness adults as
teachers and play partners for children during reading activities.
For example, e-books allow one to record one’s voice while
reading, allowing parents (or the child him/herself) to record the
narration. This is good training for memorizing and practicing
word pronunciation. Moreover, interactive e-books might integrate
functionalities that permit the reader to listen and practice the
recognition of basic units of speech (syllables and phonemes)
within different words. This activity can improve children’s
phonemic awareness: the awareness of the sound structure of
spoken language and one of the fundamental skills for reading.
Computer applications are already available as exercises in the
form of games for training the recognition of phonemes, but the
integration of this function in interactive e-books seems a
promising addition: it has been shown that daily practice in letter-
sound association is effective in increasing phonological
awareness, and that in turn might have a positive impact in reading
Such as the iPhone app GoodReader:
abilities [9]. It is also worth noting that supporting practices for
students with dyslexia within an educational context can alleviate
difficulties faced by all students, including early readers and
students with learning difficulties. From a developmental point of
view, dyslexia should in fact be considered to be at the lower end
of a continuum of reading ability that also includes poor and
normal reading abilities [19]. Thus, it is likely that beginner or
poor readers might also benefit from resources designed to support
learners with dyslexia.
Another interesting line of research is the use of interactive games
as training tools for basic attentional skills that, in turn, might
affect reading abilities. Recent studies have demonstrated that it is
possible to enhance specific attentional skills in dyslexic children,
such as visuo-spatial processing, using specific video games [7].
These findings open up opportunities for integrating interactive
activities in the form of simple games in e-books, making the
digital reading more engaging and beneficial at the same time.
Taken together, these studies show that there is a great potential in
interactive e-books: they are potentially accessible to users who
have reading difficulties and can be used as tool for developing
and enhancing reading skills. In reaching this goal, it is important
to ground the design of interactive e-books on evidence-based
findings in which cognitive aspects characterized dyslexia and in
which intervention are actually effective. This paper is a
preliminary step in guiding the design of interactive e-books for
readers with dyslexia defining those characteristics that may
improve the quality, the ease and the enjoyment of reading in
children - and potentially also in adults - with dyslexia.
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... Some articles provide high-level perspectives on the domain, presenting methodological approaches to conduct studies [15][34] [47], analysis of sentiment on the community discourse [48] [49] and cross-cultural differences [15]. Other contributions are concrete, with actionable items, and guidelines to adapt text, images, videos and study settings to users' needs [8] [21]. ...
... For children with dyslexia to read an interactive book, text adaptations are needed, including changes in typeface, font size, line spacing and length, contrast and alignment [21]. The use of multisensory representation is designed to convey redundant representations of concepts and as such broaden the student's experience of a concept [1]. ...
... Smart technologies for neurodiverse users can improve accessibility to the wider user population [3] [21], but prior research is still limited. Studies with neurodiverse users are limited in sample size [31]. ...
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This paper presents the findings of a literature review on smart technologies for neurodiverse users. The analysis of the literature indicates that most technologies implemented consist of games to train neurodiverse individuals on self-regulation, attention, and communication skills. The studies are conducted in the field, often involving a limited number of participants. The age of the participants is skewed towards children and the gender of the participant sample is predominantly male. The studies combine mixed-methods, including observations, interviews, and usability evaluations. The participants include end users, as well as caregivers and practitioners. Neurodiversity is prevalent, and emerging technologies are promising to assist neurodiverse individuals in their daily activities. Despite the importance of involving neurodiverse users in the technology design, guidance for investigators to conduct inclusive studies is currently limited. This paper provides concrete recommendations for practitioners seeking to design UX studies to include neurodiverse users.
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... General topics discussed in this workshop are mainly related to: More specifically, the workshop presentations are related to three main topics: e-books and learning ( [1], [3], [18], [25]), e-books and entertainment ([1], [6], [24]) and e-books and special needs [25]. ...
... Schiavo and Buson [25] investigate the potential of interactive eBooks to support reading activities and learning abilities in children with dyslexia. In particular, they present the findings from empirical studies in psychology that identify best practices for editing electronic texts for dyslexic readers. ...
This one-day workshop is going to bring together top researchers and practitioners working in the area of interactive e-books for children. The goal of the workshop is defining key directions for future research in the design process and implementation of this kind of books. The workshop critically explores opportunities and challenges for making interactive e-books effective for children's learning and entertainment.
... Reliability scores for the two texts were: 0.63 and 0.56 (Cronbach's alpha). Texts were written in sans-serif typeface (Bianconero Edizioni), and font size, inter-letter, and line spacing have been adapted based on guidelines for designing dyslexia-friendly content (Schiavo & Buson, 2014). The first text was divided into 16 short sections while the second one into 13 short sections (mean words length for each section Text A = 19; Text B = 24). ...
... Correlation analyses further highlighted that reading and comprehension measures were also mostly related to working memory (Giofrè et al., 2017;Swanson et al., 2009), which, in turn, and in con- (Schiavo & Buson, 2014). Moreover, in most commercially available text-to-speech software, the speed at which the speech-synthesis reads the text can be controlled by the user. ...
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The educational application “Evglotton” is designed by the Institute for Language and Speech Processing to improve the reading ability of children with dyslexia aged 8–13. This application could be used both as an additional diagnostic tool for reading and as an individualized program of rehabilitation. When it is used independently, the system monitors the learner’s progress continuously providing a full report of his performance. Moreover, it is possible for the user to enrich the system with additional texts using the admin page on the Internet. This pilot program was tested with 6 children in the inclusion class of the 5th Primary School of Kifissia during the period 2013–2014. The initial results were very encouraging, showing that the learners were highly motivated with a gradual improvement in their reading capacity. In addition, it allows the special educator to better organize his work. Consequently, he/she saves time and gains a better understanding of the learner’s reading capacity.
... Research has shown that the right brain hemisphere of people with dyslexia has a higher capability than their left hemisphere, causing difficulty in processing language, but they can still have a good understanding of the context. Because of the higher capability of their right hemisphere, people with dyslexia usually have a preference for thinking visually rather than verbally and distinctive perceptual [5]. For an ideal language ability, people need to have a balance between both brain hemispheres. ...
... Schiavo & Buson (2014) discussed the opportunities of using interactive e-Books [21] for improving the reading skills of dyslexic learners. Interactive e-Books allow the readers to record their voice while reading. ...
The desire to improve and modernize education through educational technology is met with a daunting wall, as educational technologies oftentimes reflect and exacerbate social inequities. This work explores the growth in United States’ educational inequity stemming from the interdependent relationships between education, the digital divide, and social inequities. Diving into three case studies, this paper addresses the privatization consequences that result from the disproportionate funding barriers that schools in marginalized communities face in purchasing Smart Boards, as well as the dangerous impacts of SMART Technologies’ techno-solutionist marketing in worsening educational inequities. In comparison, massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are designed with the goal of improving education equity, appear to circumvent the funding barriers that Smart Boards provide, but fail to address the more tailored educational needs of marginalized communities – ultimately landing at the same fate as that of Smart Boards in worsening educational inequities. Lastly, this paper investigates reading software related to improving education for students with reading issues and blind students. Massively popular and effective in helping these students be more engaged and independent in reading, reading software is overall successful in creating a positive push toward educational equity. However, individual reading software can easily fall to the same failures of Smart Boards and MOOCs in contributing to educational inequity.
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Η παρούσα εργασία αποσκοπεί στην ανάδειξη των δυνατοτήτων της τεχνολογίας στην αντιμετώπιση της δυσλεξίας, με επικέντρωση στην ανάπτυξη των αναγνωστικών δεξιοτήτων. Πιο συγκεκριμένα, ο στόχος της εργασίας είναι να παρουσιαστούν οι προσπάθειες που έχουν γίνει για την αντιμετώπιση της δυσλεξίας με τεχνολογικά εργαλεία και να διατυπωθούν βασικές κατασκευαστικές κατευθύνσεις για τη δημιουργία κατάλληλων λογισμικών. Πραγματοποιείται βιβλιογραφική ανασκόπηση αναφορικά με τη δυσλεξία και την αντιμετώπιση της με αξιοποίηση υποστηρικτικής τεχνολογίας. Παρουσιάζονται θέσεις, έρευνες και ειδικά κατασκευασμένα λογισμικά. Από τα δεδομένα που προκύπτουν από τη βιβλιογραφική ανασκόπηση, επιχειρείται σχεδιασμός και κατασκευή ενός λογισμικού/παιχνιδιού, το οποίο στοχεύει στη στήριξη της αναγνωστικής ικανότητας μαθητών μικρής ηλικίας (Α΄ και Β΄ Δημοτικού). Τέλος, παραθέτονται τα συμπεράσματα σχετικά με τον ρόλο της τεχνολογίας στην αντιμετώπιση της δυσλεξίας και προτείνονται κατασκευαστικές κατευθύνσεις για την κατασκευή λογισμικών που στοχεύουν στην ανάπτυξη των αναγνωστικών δεξιοτήτων μαθητών με δυσλεξία. Οι κατασκευαστικές κατευθύνσεις προκύπτουν από τη βιβλιογραφική ανασκόπηση και από την αποκτηθείσα εμπειρία του σχεδιασμού και της κατασκευής του λογισμικού.
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Around 10% of the people have dyslexia, a neurological disability that impairs a person's ability to read and write. There is evidence that the presentation of the text has a significant effect on a text's accessibility for people with dyslexia. However, to the best of our knowledge, there are no experiments that objectively measure the impact of the font type on reading performance. In this paper, we present the first experiment that uses eye-tracking to measure the effect of font type on reading speed. Using a within-subject design, 48 subjects with dyslexia read 12 texts with 12 different fonts. Sans serif, monospaced and roman font styles significantly improved the reading performance over serif, proportional and italic fonts. On the basis of our results, we present a set of more accessible fonts for people with dyslexia.
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Children and adolescents with reading disabilities experience a significant impairment in the acquisition of reading and spelling skills. Given the emotional and academic consequences for children with persistent reading disorders, evidence-based interventions are critically needed. The present meta-analysis extracts the results of all available randomized controlled trials. The aims were to determine the effectiveness of different treatment approaches and the impact of various factors on the efficacy of interventions. The literature search for published randomized-controlled trials comprised an electronic search in the databases ERIC, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Cochrane, and an examination of bibliographical references. To check for unpublished trials, we searched the websites and ProQuest, and contacted experts in the field. Twenty-two randomized controlled trials with a total of 49 comparisons of experimental and control groups could be included. The comparisons evaluated five reading fluency trainings, three phonemic awareness instructions, three reading comprehension trainings, 29 phonics instructions, three auditory trainings, two medical treatments, and four interventions with coloured overlays or lenses. One trial evaluated the effectiveness of sunflower therapy and another investigated the effectiveness of motor exercises. The results revealed that phonics instruction is not only the most frequently investigated treatment approach, but also the only approach whose efficacy on reading and spelling performance in children and adolescents with reading disabilities is statistically confirmed. The mean effect sizes of the remaining treatment approaches did not reach statistical significance. The present meta-analysis demonstrates that severe reading and spelling difficulties can be ameliorated with appropriate treatment. In order to be better able to provide evidence-based interventions to children and adolescent with reading disabilities, research should intensify the application of blinded randomized controlled trials.
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In this paper we present an ebook reader for Android, which displays ebooks in a more accessible way according to user needs. Since people with dyslexia represent a substantial group with a reading disability, we designed a set of specific guidelines which are included in the tool. These layout guidelines for people with dyslexia are based on a user study with a group of twenty two users with dyslexia. The data collected from our study combines quantitative data from tests carried out using eye tracking and qualitative data from interviews, questionnaires and the think aloud technique. The ebook display includes the most readable options observed with the eye tracking and user preferences; however the settings are customizable.
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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.
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People with dyslexia, who ordinarily struggle to read, sometimes remark that reading is easier when e-readers are used. Here, we used eye tracking to observe high school students with dyslexia as they read using these devices. Among the factors investigated, we found that reading using a small device resulted in substantial benefits, improving reading speeds by 27%, reducing the number of fixations by 11%, and importantly, reducing the number of regressive saccades by more than a factor of 2, with no cost to comprehension. Given that an expected trade-off between horizontal and vertical regression was not observed when line lengths were altered, we speculate that these effects occur because sluggish attention spreads perception to the left as the gaze shifts during reading. Short lines eliminate crowded text to the left, reducing regression. The effects of attention modulation by the hand, and of increased letter spacing to reduce crowding, were also found to modulate the oculomotor dynamics in reading, but whether these factors resulted in benefits or costs depended on characteristics, such as visual attention span, that varied within our sample.
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Although the dyslexia has significant occurrence in the global population, ranging from 15 to 20%, not much is known about how developers, designers, and content producers should respect differences and consider people with dyslexia in the Web. In this paper we present a survey regarding the state of the art on dyslexia and Web Accessibility. From the results, we present a set of 41 guidelines that may support website stakeholders (i.e., people directly involved with the design, development, and content) in phases involving design, coding, and Web content insertion. Moreover, we propose a mapping of these guidelines considering the responsibilities of different roles of websites stakeholders. Informed by this survey we expect development teams to objectively consider abilities of people with dyslexia in order to remove accessibility barriers.
Previous research has shown that presenting educational materials in slightly harder to read fonts than is typical engenders deeper processing. This leads to better retention and subsequent recall of information. Before this extremely simple-to-implement and cost-effective adaptation can be made routinely to educational materials, it needs to be shown to benefit all students, or at the very least not to hinder any particular group. The authors found that students across the ability spectrum demonstrate a significant improvement in retention and recall when presented with information in a disfluent font. Significantly, those students with dyslexia are also found to greatly benefit.
The present research examined the impact of technology on reading comprehension. While previous research has examined memory for text, and yielded mixed results of the impact technology has on one's ability to remember what they have read, the reading literature has not yet examined comprehension. In comparing paper, computers, and e-readers, results from this study indicated that these three different presentation modes do not differentially affect comprehension of narrative or expository text. Additionally, readers were not consistently compensating for difficulties with comprehension by engaging in different reading behaviors when presented with text in different formats. These results suggest that reading can happen effectively in a variety of presentation formats. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Learning to read is extremely difficult for about 10% of children; they are affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder called dyslexia [1, 2]. The neurocognitive causes of dyslexia are still hotly debated [3-12]. Dyslexia remediation is far from being fully achieved [13], and the current treatments demand high levels of resources [1]. Here, we demonstrate that only 12 hr of playing action video games-not involving any direct phonological or orthographic training-drastically improve the reading abilities of children with dyslexia. We tested reading, phonological, and attentional skills in two matched groups of children with dyslexia before and after they played action or nonaction video games for nine sessions of 80 min per day. We found that only playing action video games improved children's reading speed, without any cost in accuracy, more so than 1 year of spontaneous reading development and more than or equal to highly demanding traditional reading treatments. Attentional skills also improved during action video game training. It has been demonstrated that action video games efficiently improve attention abilities [14, 15]; our results showed that this attention improvement can directly translate into better reading abilities, providing a new, fast, fun remediation of dyslexia that has theoretical relevance in unveiling the causal role of attention in reading acquisition.