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.

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