Slow reading and dyslexia
This is comment on the effects of optimising a computer screen, on a student at what is arguably the top university in the world, diagnosed as dyslexic
The graphs show her eyes struggling with reading on a white, default background and allow comparison with her eyes reading on a computer screen adjusted to her measured needs.
On the white background her eyes showed many sudden moves reminiscent of what is called a nystagmus and her left eye regularly ‘gives up trying to fix on the words ‘ to take pictures’.
The two graphs on default show her reading after 15 seconds and after 28 seconds. The visual performance gradually deteriorates.
Using the optimally set screen the eye movements are regular and symmetrical.
On all three graphs the scales are the same.
When we look at the number of fixations (pictures) needed to get through the text, and the reading speed the difference is very stark.
On a default screen
100 words in 111 fixations 0.9 words per fixation
On her optimised screen
102 words in 72 fixations 1.42 words per fixation.
Effect on working memory?
This student was experiencing increasing fatigue in her reading, when on a white background. More ‘bits of visual data’ were needed to read a sentence and it was taking longer to read this would have made greater demand on her central executive, limiting he ‘working memory’ which in dyslexia assessments is commonly considered to be less the non dyslexic peers.
Ok so how much benefit?
In terms of what matters to the student, more effective reading/ studying
This represents a 74% improvement in speed (reduction in working memory demand?).
The comfort effect is almost impossible to measure. The stamina effect is very difficult to measure.
She had glasses made to match the colour settings of her optimised computer screen
What did her tutors say?
She is a good mathematician who was struggling but once she got her glasses made exceptional progress. From bottom she became comfortably mid-group!
This was only about the visual target. The opticians had already done their job.
Is this important?
There was no teaching involved. No phonics. no learning just fitting the task to her eyes.
If you have difficulties walking, a walking stick can help you walk faster, more confidently and for longer.
BUT.. the walking stick does not solve your, repair, cure what was causing the slow painful walking.
If you are assisting someones walking you would make sure that their shoes fit first and give them a walking stick if it helps!