Monday, 14 January 2013

The real experience of the dyslexic student. Visual attention span?

I would not usually post the personal experience of a student I have worked with. But this blew me away.  The student sent me an unsolicited summary of his experience.  All I did was  to MEASURE the computer screen conditions needed to maximise his reading off a computer screen.

This was quite complex, not a question of ‘what do you like?’ or which do you prefer. It is a rigorous protocol.  The last two posts have had the details/ metrics of the response of his visual system to the use  of the identified settings.
Now this guy had been identified as dyslexic, with the implication that he had
  • a working memory problem

  • A phonological processing problem

In any system, you need to identify if something is ‘a limiting factor’. If it is then changing it will increase or decrease performance. Changing anything else will either make it limiting, do   reduce performance or have no effect..

The evidence is amassing that for many people the Visual attention span can be the limiting factor on reading performance for many dyslexic people and many people not diagnosed as dyslexic.

For this sort of outcome the screen optimisation must have increased   the visual attention span of the person. 

The next step is to undertake an academic study to find out of this is so!  Watch this space.

James has given me permission to quote him.

 Enjoy the read.

……………………..                    ………………………………          

 HI Peter

Yesterday was fantastic, as soon as I got home I started modifying all my computers and equipment to use the new colours we found work best.

I also setup a program called F.Lux which is a program that changes the "colour temperature" of your screen based on the time of day.
Basically it reduces the brightness and I think saturation, which makes it far easier to continue working when in low light conditions and when tired.
If you're interested here is the link for f.lux:

When I combined both the RGB colour change and the screen "colour temperature" changes from f.lux i was able to work for 11 hours revising for my exam today.
I took breaks every 20 mins from reading, but I was able to recall information far easier, and unlike previously, none of the concepts in the material seemed beyond my comprehension.

I went into the exam today and answered 48/50 questions, and I didn’t even need the extra time allocated to me.
I think it’s safe to say the changes I made based upon the session we had work fantastically well, far better than I anticipated.

You can quote me, and the psychological consequences were evident before my exam. I was revising with friends taking it in turn to ask each other questions, and they were far more worried than I was, for once they were asking me the answer to things, when normally it is the other way round.

It’s going to take me a long time to go over things from last term using the new colours, but I think I can learn the things I didn't and use that to catch up.

James Parker   Huddersfield University


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