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Some Dyslexics Read Better With E-readers

By Deborah Williams

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The convenience of e-readers is undeniable, but researchers at the Smithsonian have found another benefit:  easier reading for dyslexics.  The Science Daily article, “E-readers Can Make Reading Easier for Those With Dyslexia” explains that “when e-readers are set up to only a few words per line, some people with dyslexia can read more easily, quickly and with greater comprehension.”

The researchers found that using e-readers helped dyslexics with particular deficits the most.  They found that those with visual attention deficit, or the “inability to concentrate on letters within words or words within lines of text,” and visual crowding, which is not being able “to recognize letters when they are cluttered within the word,” were able to reduce or eliminate these issues and improve reading because e-readers reduced visual distractions for them.  It seems that “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 outcome of a study of 103 high school students with dyslexia provided the evidence for this discovery.  They found that those with the two deficiencies—visual attention deficit or visual crowding—benefitted the most from using e-readers.  On the other hand, dyslexics without either of these two deficiencies did not enjoy the same benefit.

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