Simple Reading Help for Kids with Dyslexia
Applying the findings from scientific research often takes months if not years to reach the people whom it can benefit. But the team that uncovered a simple way to improve reading outcomes for kids with dyslexia is wasting no time in applying their research results to readily accessible technology.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a team of French and Italian researchers found that increasing the spacing between letters and words may improve the speed and quality of reading for children who have dyslexia.
The study, involving 94 students, ages 8 to 14 with diagnosed dyslexia, tested the effects of normal and wider letter spacing in a text that contained 24 sentences. According to an article in Science Daily:
The results showed that wider spacing enabled the children to improve their reading both in terms of speed and precision. On average, they read 20% faster and made half as many errors. This progress could stem from the fact that dyslexic children are particularly sensitive to “perceptual crowding,” in other words the visual masking of each individual letter by those surrounding it. The results of this study show that this crowding effect may be reduced by spacing letters apart.
This simple “fix” for making reading a little easier for kids with dyslexia is already available in the form of free iPad and iPhone applications that were developed while the study was underway. The apps known as “DYS” can be downloaded free from the online Apple Store.
According to the Science Daily article, “The researchers for their part hope to be able to collect large-scale data that will allow them to quantify and analyze whether optimal spacing exists as a function of the subject’s age and reading level.”
The download is available at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dys-help-people-with-dyslexia/id529867852?mt=8
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