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Matthew Schneps, Jenny Thomson, Gerhard Sonnert, Marc Pomplun, Chen Chen, Amanda Heffner-Wong; E-readers configured for short lines facilitates reading in those who struggle.. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):789. doi: 10.1167/13.9.789.
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Background: People with dyslexia remark that reading on handheld e-readers is easier than traditional methods. Previous studies (Schneps, et al., 2010) suggest short linewidths used in these devices may facilitate reading in dyslexia by reducing demands on visual attention, impaired in dyslexia (Franceschini, et al., 2011). Furthermore, it was hypothesized that proximity to the hand may facilitate reading via e-readers, because response to attention is observed to be modulated by proximity to the hand (Davoli & Brockmole,2012). Experiment: Here, we report the results of an eye tracking study that compared reading on an Apple iPod Touch with reading on an iPad, in a sample of 26 high school students with dyslexia. A (2x2x2) experimental design was used: Linewidth (iPod/iPad) and use of hand (hand/no-hand) were varied as experimental conditions; and in addition, given that dyslexia is sensitive to crowding, letter spacing (normal v. wide) was varied. Reading rate, fixation statistics, saccade regression, and reading comprehension were measured. Findings: Highly significant main effects of linewidth favoring the iPod were observed in all of these variables. Furthermore, significant advantages of wide spacing (that relieve the effects of crowding) were observed, but only among those readers who were most impaired. No effect of the hand was found, and interactions were absent. Conclusions: We interpret these observations in terms of a model for reading in dyslexia. Here, we suggest that attention processes that ordinarily inhibit perception of text previously read are impaired in dyslexia ("inverse pseudo-neglect" Michel, et al.,2010). This disrupts word recognition and additionally cues readers to direct spatial attention in the wrong direction, increasing incidence of regressive saccades. We believe these effects are ameliorated in e-readers that use abbreviated linewidths, making reading using small-screen devices a potentially effective strategy for those who struggle to read.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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