E-Readers Help Dyslexics

Monday, 23 Sep 2013 12:13 PM

By Nick Tate

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Dyslexic people who use e-book readers like Nooks and Kindles can read more easily and quickly, and have a better understanding of the material, new research shows.

In a study published this week in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Laboratory for Visual Learning found as many as one in three people with the common impairment fared better with e-reader devices than conventional books.

"At least a third of those with dyslexia we tested have these issues with visual attention and are helped by reading on the e-reader," said lead researcher Matthew H. Schneps. "For those who don't have these issues, the study showed that the traditional ways of displaying text are better."
 
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The researchers said dyslexics often suffer from what is known as "visual attention deficit" — an inability to concentrate on specific letters or words within lines of text. Some also experience "visual crowding" — the inability to recognize letters when they are scattered within the word. But by reading short lines on an e-reader, Schneps and his colleagues found dyslexics were able to resolve these issues.
 
For the study, the team tested the reading comprehension and speed of 103 dyslexic high school students in Boston, who used both paper and on small e-reader devices, configured with lines of text that were only two or three words long.
 
E-reader use "significantly improved" both speed and understanding in many of the students, the study found, with students who had a significant visual attention deficit benefitting the most.

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