Aimee Daniells‘  interesting post, Fight dyslexia with the Kindle! has ignited this summary of the benefits of Kindles for learners with dyslexia. All that she says relates to all digitalised methods of accessing text of course, but the case for the Kindle is that it is so transportable.

Many people with dyslexia can become relatively competent at reading given motivation, good teaching and an awful lot of hard work. It is often the slow speed of reading and the poor organisation of thoughts which inhibits them from becoming fluent. However, for many there will be an instinctive negative reaction to large swathes of text and to overcome this, they must have a real desire to break the barrier. The small progress bar on the bottom of the Kindle shows the percentage of the book that has been read: a great motivator.

The facility to change text size, font style and line spacing when using a Kindle enables less confident readers to take control of their fear. The text on the plastic sheet looks as sharp and readable as traditional ink on paper. It’s this above all that has made the Kindle a runaway bestseller.

And although the text-to-speech specification features a less than pleasant robotic voice it does at least offer the opportunity to access the words in an alternative format. Uploading audiobooks is also an option of course.

The Kindle’s built-in dictionary is also a boon for learners with dyslexia. Using a conventional dictionary is tough for those with sequencing difficulties, especially if they experience visual stress when looking at densely packed pages of information.

I have taken to using my Kindle for reading books to which I wish to refer at a later date; whether for a book group discussion or professional reflection. For this I use the highlighting tool. This facility is particularly useful for people who find it hard to organise themselves. Dyslexics’ desks are often strewn with bits of paper which inevitably get lost. If there is a need to refer back at any point, having the text with notes in the same place helps immeasurably. These highlights can be extracted and re-read with ease.

Another great feature of the Kindle is its search provision. This allows you easily to locate specific names, places or events to refresh the memory. Hunting for relevant information can take up huge amounts of time which slower readers can ill afford. The bookmark is also very helpful for finding your place when you return to the book. Fluent readers – ones who love books and/or who are studying from them – ‘annotate, mark up, underline’; their books are likely to be ‘dog-eared, summarised, cross-referenced, hyperlinked, shared, and talked about. Being digital allows them to do all that and more’.

Thetechnium,  when speculating about the future of the book, discusses the prospect of a screen that we not only watch but that watches us, the readers. For people with slow processing speed, there is the potential for interactivity with the text:

to map whether you are confused by a passage, or delighted, or bored. Prototype face tracking software can already recognize your mood, and whether you are paying attention, and more importantly where on the screen you are paying attention. That means that the text could adapt to how it is perceived. Perhaps it expands into more detail, or shrinks during speed reading, or changes vocabulary when you struggle, or reacts in a hundred possible ways. There are numerous experiments playing with adaptive text. One will give you different summaries of characters and plot depending on how far you’ve read.

This flexibility might challenge the very nature of books, of reading – something for another post perhaps – but for learners with dyslexia it opens up a whole world from which hitherto they been largely excluded.

Advertisements