While on sabbatical in 2017, I did a research project for a graduate class about personalizing online and face-to-face instruction for students with special needs. We were assigned to write a paper on a peer-reviewed research article about a characteristic, disability, or trait, and then present the research findings. I chose to research how different online reading experiences affect learners with dyslexia.
Through my research, I learned that it’s relatively easy, and it takes very little time to modify documents to make them easier to read. Furthermore, offering modified reading materials can help not only students with dyslexia, but also students with other reading disabilities or challenges.
From my research and the many resources I came across, The British Dyslexia Association’s Style Guide and other resources for educators was especially helpful, and they are worth checking out.
Simple, Research-based Accommodations for Dyslexia-Friendly Reading
One of my takeaways from my research was that I think more teachers would take the time to modify their reading assignments to make them more readable if they had a template to use. So I created one in Google Docs so teachers can copy-and-paste a text into it and share it with students as a reading option.
Another takeaway from this project was that the technology we have today, even very simple PDF readers and ebook apps often have some accessibility tools built-in. For instance, the popular MackinVIA ebook app and website allow student to change the background and text color of ebooks they are reading.
As part of reading instruction at the beginning of the year, I have been teaching all students, not just our students with special needs, how to customize these tools to what works for them. Knowing how to “hack” their tech tools will empower students to take a more active role in their own education.
If you have a tip for accommodating reading assignments for students, or if you have a recommended app or program for online reading, please share it with us in the comments!