A Dyslexia Treatment? Study Says Digital Screens Make Reading Easier

A dyslexia treatment is possible with digital screens, a new study says. Researchers at Harvard say their recent trials show that dyslexic high school students could comprehend better and read faster with an e-reader than they could from a paper page. An estimated five to 17 percent of all readers are dyslexic and may now have a solution to their problems.

The study involved 103 students in high school with dyslexia-related reading problems. According to Popular Mechanics, they were given two tests, one on paper and another on iPod Touches. In this study, the app GoodReader was used. Nearly half of the subjects saw a positive score change when they read off of the digital device.

What is it about the digital screens that helps those with dyslexia read? It’s not so much the screen, researchers say. Instead, it’s a digital reader’s ability to resize text and change fonts that is key. As NY Daily News reports, earlier studies have shown that short lines of text can help people with dyslexia read more easily and faster.

Digital devices, like e-readers, could be a form of dyslexia treatment because they allow people to make adjustments easily and quickly. The Harvard researchers say simple changes like the spacing between letters and between lines can go a long way to making reading easier for dyslexics.

Now that we know digital devices can make reading easier for someone with dyslexia, is a bigger device, like an iPad, necessarily the best option? An earlier study from the group of Harvard researchers shows that bigger is not actually better. Dyslexics reading from an iPad have a higher rate of leftward regressions, or glances back over already read words, than they do when reading on a 3.5 inch iPod Touch with the same font and sized text.

The study’s researchers say they believe the growing popularity of digital devices and e-readers could mean a form of dyslexia treatment for many struggling readers is right around the corner.

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