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Study shows e-readers could help dyslexic pupils

20/09/2013 Kelly
E-readers could potentially help staff in education jobs to raise attainment levels among dyslexic pupils, research conducted in the US suggests.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning difficulties, affecting between four per cent and eight per cent of children in England.

In many cases, those affected have a visual attention deficit, whereby they find it difficult to concentrate on letters within words, or words within lines of text, while visual crowding, in which readers cannot recognise letters cluttered within a word, is another regular feature.

Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have now found these issues can be alleviated through the use of e-readers set to display only a few words per line, after conducting tests with 103 dyslexic students at Landmark High School in Boston.

Their study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found around one in three of the dyslexic students had pronounced visual attention deficits and were therefore able to read more quickly and accurately from the e-readers than from paper, as well as better comprehend the text.

By contrast, for other students who did not exhibit this symptom, more traditional means of displaying text proved more effective.

Lead author Matthew Schneps commented: "The high school students we tested at Landmark had the benefit of many years of exceptional remediation, but even so, if they have visual attention deficits they will eventually hit a plateau, and traditional approaches can no longer help.

"Our research showed that the e-readers help these students reach beyond those limits."

Responding to these findings, the British Dyslexia Association told BBC News e-readers are often more accessible because they offer a wide range of font, size, spacing and colour options, as well as text-to-speech software and built-in dictionaries that provide instant definitions of words.

Last month, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Children's Hospital in the US also revealed brain scans could potentially be used to identify dyslexia in young children and enable primary teachers to make earlier interventions that better aid their educational development.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801640102-ADNFCR
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