The team discovered that when e-readers are set up to display only a few words per line, some people with dyslexia can read more easily, quickly and with greater comprehension. Their findings are published in the Sept. 18 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
An element in many cases of dyslexia is called a visual attention deficit. It is marked by an inability to concentrate on letters within words or words within lines of text. Another element is known as visual crowding--the failure to recognize letters when they are cluttered within the word. Using short lines on an e-reader can alieviate these issues and promote reading by reducing visual distractions within the text.
"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 Matthew H. Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the research. "For those who don't have these issues, the study showed that the traditional ways of displaying text are better."
An earlier study by Schneps tracked eye movements of dyslexic students while they read, and it showed the use of short lines facilitated reading by improving the efficiency of the eye movements. This second study examined the role the small hand-held reader had on comprehension, and found that in many cases the device not only improved speed and efficiency, but improved abilities for the dyslexic reader to grasp the meaning of the text.
The team tested the reading comprehension and speed of 103 students with dyslexia who attend Landmark High School in Boston. Reading on paper was compared with reading on small hand-held e-reader devices, configured to lines of text that were two-to-three words long. The use of an e-reader significantly improved speed and comprehension in many of the students. Those students with a pronounced visual attention deficit benefited most from reading text on a handheld device versus on paper, while the reverse was true for those who did not exhibit these issues. The small screen on a handheld device displaying few words (versus a full sheet of paper) is believed to narrow and concentrate the reader's focus, which controls visual distraction.
"The high school students we tested at Landmark had the benefit of many years of exceptional remediation, but even so, if they have visual attention deficits they will eventually hit a plateau, and traditional approaches can no longer help," said Schneps. "Our research showed that the e-readers help these students reach beyond those limits."
These findings suggest that this reading method can be an effective intervention for struggling readers and that e-readers may be more than new technological gadgets: They also may be educational resources and solutions for those with dyslexia.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The journal article is openly accessible and can be downloaded at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.007563. The previously published study is available at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071161.
To guide teachers, parents, and others in how to use e-readers to help students who struggle with reading, the Smithsonian Institution, with funding from the Youth Access Grant program, has created a free online resource explaining how to configure the devices, and certify reading specialists in their use. This resource is accessible at http://readeasy.si.edu.
John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy