Kindle, Dyslexia – Kindle and Learning Disability

A Kindle and Dyslexia related press release reminded me of the fact that the Kindle is potentially great for children with a learning disability. A lady had written in about how the Kindle helped her daughter who used to have problems reading -

  1. Her daughter used to not read much at all. 
  2. When the Kindle’s larger font option was set her daughter suddenly liked reading – it was no longer difficult.
  3. It got her daughter into reading.

She was just so happy about it and it makes you realize the benefits of the Kindle for children with a learning disability like dyslexia.

Dyslexia and Statistics

Wikipedia says that dyslexia affects 5% to 17% of the U.S. population -

It is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5% to 17% of the U.S. population.[2]

Basically, there are lots of competing theories about exactly what causes Dyslexia and how to help people -

Dyslexia is thought to be the result of a neurological defect -

 it is variously considered a learning disability, a language disability, and a reading disability, among others.

Dyslexia is diagnosed in people of all levels of intelligence.

There are a few interesting theories -

  1. People with dyslexia have other strengths i.e. they are better than normal in spatial tasks etc.  
  2. That we should focus on using strategies that maximize these strengths.  
  3. Dyslexia might be related to visual issues i.e. cluttering of words makes it difficult to read.

For me there were two big takeaways -

  1. People with dyslexia can ‘hear’ and thus access books at a higher level than they can read.
  2. Larger font sizes and more spacing between words MIGHT help children with dyslexia read better.

Remarkably, the Kindle provides both.

The Kindle, Dyslexia and Learning Disability

The Kindle is the only eReader that has taken the step of adding a text to speech feature.

  1. Although some Publishers opt out of the feature there are still lots of books with the text to speech enabled.
  2. All public domain books can be used with the text to speech feature.
  3. Any of your own documents and all converted books can be used with the text to speech feature.

Kindle also has a good set of stereo speakers. Note that the Sony Touch Edition doesn’t have speakers, only an audio outlet.

That suddenly opens up a huge number of books to dyslexic children.

As far as getting TTS rights - Instead of forcing universities to boycott Kindle 2, rights activists should get Publishers to release Text to Speech reading rights – either for everyone, or a special override switch for anyone who can prove they have learning disabilities.

Bonus of Font Sizes and Line Spacing.

The Kindle also lets you change font size and spacing i.e.

  1. The Aa button brings up the Font Size Menu which lets you pick 1 of 6 font sizes. 
  2. That same menu lets you pick number of words per line. 
  3. You can use Alt+Shift+1 through Alt+Shift+9 to change the space between lines.  (Shift is the Up Arrow button).
  4. The Font Menu also lets you choose landscape mode or portrait mode (including on the Home Page).

For someone with dyslexia, Kindle lets them choose the number of words per line, space between lines, and the font size. PERHAPS that makes reading less challenging for them.

Perhaps your kid is like the lady’s daughter and will suddenly love reading again.

The video demonstrates the sizes etc. – please let me know if you have a request and I’ll add a video or photographs to help you figure out the size and what reading on the Kindle will be like (also check my kindle review videos).

Non-obvious Benefits

  • The Press Release talked about how using a Kindle doesn’t carry a social stigma - that’s true as it’s a main-stream device.
  • You also get audiobooks from Audible.com or any that are in mp3 format.
  • You get free Internet.
  • Free Wikipedia.
  • Background music.

Do keep in mind that the menus and browser are not ‘zoomable’. You can flip the menu to landscape mode.

Is the Kindle a good fit for dyslexic children and children with learning disabilities?

Perhaps. It definitely lets you listen to a lot of books and play around with different font sizes.

  1. What are the other needs of kids with learning disabilities?
  2. How much of a boost will kids get from being able to access more books?
  3. Will the font size options allow them to read books that they otherwise would struggle with?

Not fully aware of all the needs – please leave your comments and questions.

The Kindle is definitely worth taking a look at – it does seem like a good fit for any children with dyslexia or a reading related learning disability.

45 Responses

  1. [...] Read my detailed post on Kindle, Dyslexia and learning disabilities. [...]

    • my son is dyslexic and this sounds perfect for him at school he is a freshman in college and have a hard time. how would i find out if his books are on kindle

      • Nancy, check the amazon kindle store. At Amazon.com select Kindle on the left hand side and then Kindle store. There are some textbooks already available for the Kindle. Textbooks are also available electronically from other sites (such as the Publishers) – however, those will likely have their own DRM that makes them impossible/difficult to read on the Kindle.

      • Did you buy a Kindle for your son at college? My daughter, also dyslexic and in college can’t keep up with her reading. I wondered if the availability of text books and the quality of the voice reading was good.

    • I am trying to raise the awareness about Dyslexic people to Amazon and the publishes of books that are disabling text to speech on the kindle and how it is an important disability aid. Please support me by leaving your name in the comments box as I am trying to get 1000 people to sign my petition.

      • I just discovered the Kindle on amazon and believe it will be an excellent tool for my dyslexic daughter who dislikes reading. I’m buying it for her for Christmas. I hope that publishers will see the benefit of releasing these college textbooks to the Kindle format for students with dyslexia.

      • CAROLINE HARVEY.

      • Not sure what you intended to write.

      • The read aloud option would definitely help dyslexic kids/students. I am planning on getting one for my daughter who has dyslexia & is in high school.

      • Child with dyslexia!

      • Text to speech is vital for dyslexics!

      • I have a daughter who is dyslexic. Put my name on your list! Anna Wesch and Piper Cole

      • I am I Dyslexia, and it is hard for me to keep up with my reading and writing, I am only a senior in high school and I am a bit nervous for college and the reading part.
        Tarry and Nancy, if you have bought the kindle have your children found it helpful?

      • I totally support your petition! My son is in fourth grade and I am buying a kindle for him. His reading comprehension is above grade level when content is read to him!! The point is accessibility, everyone learns differently!!!
        Ingrid Morales

      • Rachel Pero,I would support the use of voice added to my books. my son needs this feature.

      • Rachel please contact Amazon and let them know.

      • I support your campaign to get text books added to the kindle library. I am a physiotherapist with a university aged son with newly diagnosed dyslexia.

    • This is the first time i have ever posted to bear with me…We are buying a kindle for our son in 5th grade. Please Publishers,,,, help us. This is an amazing tool for our precious children with this disability and it can be so easily helped with this technology. The thought of numerous book reports was so overwhelming until we were directed to the Kindle. We now have hope for the next 9 months and into our incredible son’s journey into middle schoole, high school and college for sure!
      Thank you!

  2. [...] Have been writing about this for a while – Here’s a Kindle FAQ for vision impaired and blind readers and an article on Kindle, dyslexia, and reading disability. [...]

  3. [...] Oh, lots of people have told me about the little advantages of those little gizmos. They are lightweight. They offer instant gratification. They have features that may make reading easier for people with certain disabilities. [...]

  4. [...] check my Kindle Dyslexia post for a video showing what you can do with the Kindle, landscape mode, and the line spacing and [...]

  5. Wondering if they have more books for Kindle than they had a few months ago. I looked at a Kindle back in October and there were a limited supply of books. My son is 10 and dyslexic and dislikes reading. I didn’t want to buy into it with such a short list.

  6. My son is dyslexic and has been reading with the Kindle for the past 9 months. I totally agree with the woman who said her daughter likes reading again. It is true, it has helped him so much and I am looking forward to someone doing a study on it. He has been using my Kindle, but I just ordered one for him. He is in the 8th grade, I have informed the teachers that he will be reading on the Kindle in school, and they are fully supporting him.

  7. My son is being tested for Dyslexia, and by accounts he has most of the traits. I am a teacher as well and have found it very challenging to find the right avenue. I have recently been investigating the different re readers and the Kindle seems to be the best. My son is in 4th grade and wants to read but finds it difficult.
    I would love for a study to take place to see if the Kindle is helping children with reading disabilites. I am ordering one for my son for Christmas.
    I am all for raising awareness. My son is not a careless reader
    Colleen P.

    • Colleen,
      There have been a lot of cases of students with dyslexia finding reading much easier with a Kindle. Try larger text size and increasing the line spacing.

      If you don’t see an improvement do leave a comment and we can explore a little more.

  8. I am 60 years and have no diagnosed disability’s. While I am able to read, all through life I had a lot of problems reading a book. I don’t know what it was, I could not read for more than 10 minutes without falling asleep. It was all I could do to get through high school. With the kindle large print and limit of words per line I find that I am reading one to two good size books a week. I wish we had these 60 years ago, who knows I may have completed my education.

    • Barry,
      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s a good reminder of the value of using Kindle and Nook in education. Perhaps more importantly – of creating tools that give everyone a chance to get a good education.

  9. Devices like these are making it possible for all learners to have access. Learning Disabilities are not an obstacle but an asset once people begin to realize that we all learn differently!! Schools need to be open to accepting devices that will help the students continue to experience success because their needs are being met!! I am a teacher and I wish I had at least 4 kindles in my classroom for my struggling yet smart students!!!

  10. I have a son who is dyslexia, it has been frustrating for him to read.

  11. I have a son hes 10 that is under going testing for dyslexia. I was uneasy about this test cause I dont wont him labled (though he is now as difficult and class clown). I was looking at the e reader but not sure what ones the best. I also have a son that shows the same problems and will be going to school next year and not sure what to do for him any help would be great.
    Thank You Tiffany

  12. I too am buying my daughter a kindle for Christmas. My hope is that it will help her improve her reading and comprehension ability.

    Kelly

  13. I have just got home from my daughters school. She is in the second grade and is also showing signs of being dyslexic along with being a.d.h.d. and having trouble reading. Do you think having a kindle will help her bring her grades up?

    • Birdette,

      I’d recommend taking your daughter to a Target or Staples and seeing how she likes the screen. Also, Amazon has a return policy of 21 days or so generally and during Holiday season until end of January. Please check but I think you could buy one, test for 21 days and then return if you don’t like it.

      Since the Kindle allows kids to choose the font size they like and the spacing they like – it allows them to read at their preferred. What people have said, and this is all anecdotal, is that it got kids interested in reading when earlier they used to struggle due to the words being too close together.

      I think it’s worth a shot.

  14. Add me to your list of parents of dyslexic children who need text to speach reader.

  15. I fully agree with your assessment that ereaders can help people with dyslexia – my husband has dyslexia, and has always found reading more of a chore than a pleasure. However, he tried an ereader on holiday, and read more books in those two weeks than he had in the previous year. Although the font size does seem to have some bearing on this greater ease of use, the biggest factor for him seems to be having a grey rather than a white background.

    However, I do have one criticism of the article – the Kindle is not the only e-reader out there, and in my opinion, is inferior to the Sony, Nook and Kobo for people with dyslexia. I would like to see the article rewritten to describe ereaders in general – as it stands, it’s a very good advertisement for Amazon!

    • Tina, it’s a Kindle blog. If you notice the left side I’ve listed Nook Simple Touch and Nook Tablet. So I think those are very good options too. I find Sony not very good in providing infrastructure to make the most of the device. Kobo is coming up very strong but it isn’t yet at the level of Kindle and Nook.

  16. My dyslexic daughter never read for pleasure. With her new kindle she is now reading a chapter book which one year ahead of her peers. She can’t put it down and is even reading in bed. As a result she is finding reading easier in class, because her confidence has been boosted tremendously. This is nothing short of a miracle and undoubtedly the most important purchase we have made in years.

  17. Please add my name to your list of people who want/need the text-to-speech feature. My son, 11yr, is dyslexic. Since RFBD (now Learning Ally) no longer gives the free membership for dyslexic students (since they lost their federal funding), dyslexics really need that text-to-speech function (or every dyslexic must pay $$ for that feature anywhere).

  18. Add one more to the list. I have a 6th grade dyslexic son and we have been using RFBD now learning ally. They are requiring the annual fee now due to funding. We have been downloading audio and having a copy of the book to follow along with. Like many parents I have spent countless late night hours researching the best technology and most simple to use. I am going to look at the Kindle. I will contact Amazon as soon as I find out how and request they look into special offers for the dyslexic and other learning differences.

  19. Are you familiar with a “convergence reading problem” in children where each eye reads a different word at the same time. Wondering if the ereaders would be helpful.

  20. I too am thinking of getting a kindle for my son who is on the dyslexia /dyspraxia spectrum .My main reason would be for academic readinf if he gets to university next year .Does anyone know if the range for the simple kindle tht amazon are selling would do that ?? all advice gratefully received

  21. I agree that the all text books used by children should be voice to text. Please add my name to the list. I have a daughter and two grandchildren that have reading problems and voice to text would be extremely helpful for them. I will look into it today.

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