A new study performed by the Smithsonian Institute found that ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle can actually help those with dyslexia with reading comprehension. Technology!
When you think of dyslexia, what first comes to mind might be some form of inversion–reading backwards, that kind of thing. But dyslexia is actually a broad term to cover lots of different ways in which people with otherwise normal intelligence levels have trouble reading. That could include difficulty converting letters into sounds, difficulty spelling, and difficulty separating the phonological tones of one letter from another.
The benefit of ebook readers is largely in their customization. A book, due to being, you know, printed with ink on paper, is not very customizable. But an ebook reader offers the ability to change the look of the book–and this particular study wanted to see if it would be possible to change the text so much that people with dyslexia would be able to read it without getting the letters confused.
Testing the reading comprehension and speed of 103 dyslexic students in Boston, the study found that by spacing the books to a mere two or three words per line, the dyslexic readers were able to significantly increase both speed and comprehension. The idea is to reduce visual distraction; people with the disorder have a hard time with a dense page of letters, so by spacing them out, it’s easier for them to concentrate on the task at hand.
You can read the study over at PLoS One.