Effects of Highlighting Text on the Reading Ability of Children with Developmental Dyslexia: A Pilot Study
Keywords:developmental dyslexia, visual information, accessibility, digital content, eye movement
Digital texts can be made accessible to children with developmental dyslexia by presenting them in a simplified layout, using suitable fonts, or using text highlighting that is synchronized with audio. However, the impact of this last method on readability (as measured by eye movement) for children with developmental dyslexia remains unknown; it is unclear whether the color and length of text highlighting influences readability. We examined these issues in two experiments with seven children with developmental dyslexia (aged 7–14 years). In the first experiment, we clarified the relation between readability and text highlighting with synchronous audio by measuring the eye movements of children with developmental dyslexia. Readability was determined using the frequency of eye fixations. In the second experiment, we determined which styles of text highlighting best supported digital text reading among children with developmental dyslexia. Digital texts were created using different text highlighting colors and band lengths, and then were read using Apple iBooks on a 9.7-inch Apple iPad Air. We observed that children with developmental dyslexia found it easier to read along when audio was synchronized with text highlighting, particularly for the highlighting style that used a blue band for whole sentences. The second experiment showed that children with developmental dyslexia found it particularly easy to read digital texts that were highlighted with blue or yellow bands, both for single sentences and for single words. The method of presenting visual information for reading might help children with developmental dyslexia read more easily.
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