DEV Community πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

DEV Community πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’» is a community of 963,503 amazing developers

We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.

Create account Log in
Stacha
Stacha

Posted on

What every web developer should know about Dyslexia?

Steve Jobs's eyes

You probably have heard the word β€œDyslexia” before, you might know someone who has dyslexia, perhaps you have it too. In English-speaking countries, Dyslexia is estimated to affect up to 20% of the population (source: Australian Dyslexia Association). Situational dyslexia can be experienced by the rest 80% and I will talk about it later in this article.

The term dyslexia was first used in the 19th century and it is a combination of Greek dys- β€˜difficult’ and Latin lexis β€˜word’.

Dyslexia today is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read, interpret letters, words, symbols. Dyslexia does not affect person's intelligence.
An interesting fact is that Dyslexia is more common in countries where English is the first language. Although Dyslexia is found in all cultures, English, is a particularly difficult language for dyslexic learners, as it has 44 sounds and 26 letters, and it does not have a direct letter-to-sound correlation for all words.

Dyslexia is not a disease.

Since dyslexia is a brain-based difference there is no cure for it. Dyslexia is not a comprehension problem. According to the Australian Dyslexia Association Individuals with dyslexia are able to use higher level language skills to support their reading of a connected text (stories) and this ability to β€˜compensate’ may mask their underlying difficulties with single word reading (decoding).
Studies suggest that people who have dyslexia can even outperform their non-dyslexic peers in creative thinking, problem-solving and analytical thinking (source: Australian Dyslexia Association )

Albert Einstein Fun fact: Albert Einstein had dyslexia

How dyslexia affects web users?
Individuals with dyslexia vary greatly in their learning difficulties. Key variables are the severity of the difficulties; the ability to identify and understand their difficulties; and successfully developing and implementing coping strategies.
However, there are some common challenges that web users with dyslexia can face:

1. Difficulty to read
This one is probably the most obvious challenge. Reading is likely to be slow. Research shows that readers with dyslexia access text at a 25% slower rate on a computer. This should be taken into account when putting information on the web.
Users will have difficulty with an unfamiliar or new language, such as jargon; difficulty extracting meaning from written material; and difficulty with scanning or skimming text.
To understand the dyslexic experience a little bit better, try reading the text in the dyslexia simulator at (https://www.sldread.org/dyslexia-simulator/)

what users with dyslexia see

2. Difficulty with input
Users with dyslexia may be illiterate or barely literate. Where literacy has been mastered, problems continue, such as poor spelling; Incorrect sequencing of strings of numbers and letters (passwords, card numbers).
Users tend to do mistakes with routine information, like providing their age or phone number.
Often users with dyslexia misplace their answers in the wrong input boxes.

3. Difficulty with multitasking
Because of poor working memory, dyslexics can experience difficulty holding on to several pieces of information at the same time. This is especially challenging while undertaking a task, e.g., taking notes while listening, or addressing compound questions.
Individuals with dyslexia usually have a slower speed of information processing, such as a β€˜penny-dropping’ delay between hearing or reading something and understanding and responding to it.

4. Difficulty with navigation
Users with dyslexia often get lost even on familiar websites and apps.

Bad navigation example Bad navigation explained by Steve Krug

5. Difficulty with time management and passage of time,

Difficulty working within time limits. And as we’ve discussed earlier β€” the navigation and reading are slow too.

6. Stress
I believe, at this point, it is self-explanatory, that individuals with dyslexia are dealing with lots of stress while using the web. In return, the stress itself makes it even harder to overcome the challenges associated with dyslexia.
Situational dyslexia
Okay, I’m not 100% sure that this term is exactly correct, but hear me out. There are situations in every person’s life that can cause them to experience challenges, that dyslectic people live with.

Here is a list of some of those situations. Any person can face challenges associated with dyslexia when they are being:

  • very stressed, anxious, or depressed

  • affected by drugs or alcohol

  • sleep deprived or very tired

  • using a website that is not in their first language

  • …or just being distracted

That is why making your website dyslexia-friendly will greatly improve the user experience for all users. This brings us to the next question.

How to make your website Dyslexia-friendly?

People with dyslexia love to use mainstream technologies to help them. For example, a spell checker for the input or text-to-voice option. They may use screen readers that highlight text as they read. Special software to help dyslexics includes Text Help.

Do this while you are building the app or the website:
text:

  • Use clear, direct, and simple language
  • Give instructions clearly, use bullets
  • The text should be well-structured, have headings
  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short
  • Add a beginning summary of the point, either for the whole text or for the long paragraph
  • Avoid abbreviations if possible, or provide a glossary of abbreviations and jargon
  • Use active rather than passive voice. Example: write β€œI do the job” rather than β€œJob is done by me”
  • Avoid double negatives
  • Lists of do’s and don’t’s are more useful than continuous text to highlight aspects of good practice
  • Rate your text with Flesch Reading Ease score. Aim for a readability score of 60 or higher. With a score of 60, your document will be easy to read for most people with at least an eighth-grade education. That’s an average 13-year-old. The spell checker in MS Word can be set to automatically check the readability score. I personally love the app Grammarly (www.grammarly.com)

BINGOMake sure your text is easy to understand

text styling:

  • Use a plain, evenly-spaced, sans-serif font, such as Helvetica
  • Use the dark-colored text on a light (not white) background. (Avoid pure white backgrounds because of glare.)
  • Avoid using background images behind text
  • Avoid underlining and italics. These tend to make the text appear to run together. If you want to make it more visible β€” use bold
  • avoid text IN BLOCK CAPITALS, IT IS HARD TO READ
  • Use left-justified text with a ragged-right edge.
  • Never use moving text
  • Offer alternate-download pages in a text-reader-friendly style, and make sure your website is supporting the β€œreader” option on mobile devices
  • Try to avoid text that disappears after a short time, or increase the time limit and make an easy option to extend that limit

do and dont's of text styling Text styling examples

media:

Use graphics, images, and pictures to break up a text. Keep in mind that graphics and tables may take a long time to download
Flow charts are ideal for explaining procedures

navigation:

Use modern best practices and design patterns for making navigation easy
A site map is always helpful
Use hyperlinks, and encourage their use at the end of sentences

dr Strange Use modern best practices of navigation

Summary:

Dyslexia is a term for disorders that involve difficulty in reading, interpreting words, letters, and other symbols. Dyslexia does not affect general intelligence. Dyslexia is estimated to affect up to 20% of the population. But there are situations in every person’s life that can cause them to experience challenges, that dyslectics live with. That is why we should always keep dyslexic in mind when developing a website. By following a set of rues we can make our websites and apps easy to use.

I hope you found this post useful. If you have any insides as a web user living with dyslexia, or if you would like to share with the medium community any additional resources, please do so in the comment section below. If you have a bit of advice on how I can improve the user’s experience on this page, please reach out to me on Twitter https://twitter.com/stacha_cl

Sources:

  1. W3 Gap Analysis/Dyslexia: https://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/task-forces/coga/wiki/Gap_Analysis/Dyslexia
  2. Australian Dyslexia Association :https://dyslexiaassociation.org.au/what-is-dyslexia/
  3. Dyslexia simulator at https://www.sldread.org/dyslexia-simulator/
  4. Technologies Committee: http://bdatech.org/what-technology/typefaces-for-dyslexia/
  5. Book β€œDon’t Make Me Think” by Krug Steve https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HJUBRPG/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0
  6. Dyslexia.com
  7. Grammarly App https://www.grammarly.com/blog/readability-scores/
  8. Understanding Dyslexia
  9. Amy Collins https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/fcs/agent-resources/lesson-series/fcs-lesson-series/MF2988%20understanding%20dyslexia%20leaders%20guide.pdf

Top comments (0)

What image format should you use in your next project? πŸ€”