E-readers May Help People With Dyslexia

According to a new study, Ipods and other small e-readers may make reading easier for people with dyslexia. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, looked at 103 high school students with dyslexia and found that when using a small e-reader, the students could read faster and comprehend more.

However it's likely that the improvements weren't actually because of the e-readers. Previous research has shown that people with dyslexia find reading easiest when lines are short and there are fewer words per page. In this most recent study, the students read from Ipods whose screens were adjusted to show only a few words at a time. The results were then compared with a normally printed sheet of 8x11 inch paper. The researchers concluded that the improvements in reading speed and comprehension likely had less to do with the devices as with the number of words per line. (Previous dyslexia research comparing tablet-sized e-readers to the printed page found no difference in reading comprehension or speed.)

Of course, that's still good news. It's not practical to print books with only a few words per page, and so the the spread of e-readers could open a whole new set of doors for the estimated 5 to 17 percent of the population with dyslexia. “With the widespread adoption of e-readers and other digital technologies for reading, reading methods are rapidly evolving,” the study's authors commented. This evolution may open “the possibility that alternate methods for reading can perhaps reverse historically imposed constraints that have caused so many to struggle.”