Opinion
Education Opinion

Special E-Readers for People with Dyslexia

By Justin Reich — September 25, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Educators sometimes ask me about the virtues of print versus screen reading. Unfortunately, the basic summary of my position is “we don’t know enough and the technology changes too fast to learn.” Studies take a long time to put together and technology moves faster than the research. There are some great studies comparing print to CRT monitors; these may or may not be so useful anymore. Studies are often conducted in labs rather than in real-life conditions, limiting the usefulness of the findings. There certainly isn’t any clear consensus.

This week, a very interesting study caught my eye that highlights one important principle: different reading modalities will work differently for different people.

Some folks at the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Graduate School of Education at Harvard, and the University of Massachusetts Boston computer science department put together a very interesting study looking at people with dyslexia and screen readers. The title says it all: E-Readers are More Effective Than Paper for Some with Dyslexia.

A number of recent studies suggest that dyslexia is more a function of vision issues than cognitive issues. For instance, people with dyslexia sometimes have stronger peripheral vision than frontal vision. So the authors built an e-reader for smartphones and other small devices that shows only a few words at a time:

The study examined 101 students with dyslexia, and depending upon the exact evaluation, about a third to one half of students read more effectively with the device rather than on paper. With fewer words to handle at any given instant, the authors hypothesize that the device limited inefficient eye movements and benefitted speed and comprehension for students with some of the most severe visual attention difficulties.

Two things are important here. First, in the print vs. screen debate, the answer will probably always be “it depends.” It depends on the person, the text, the task, and the context. A thoughtful approach to reading for the decades ahead probably encourages students to read widely on devices and on paper, and to reflect on their preferences for different tasks. Second, the study is also a useful reminder that even if we find certain patterns hold “on average,” average benefits can masks a wide variation in performance among very different people.

Kudos to the authors for a clever study.

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my publications, C.V., and online portfolio, visit EdTechResearcher.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)