September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Improving Reading Outcomes Using Digital Reading Rulers for Readers With & Without Dyslexia
Author Affiliations
  • Aleena Watson
    Adobe Inc.
  • Shaun Wallace
    Brown University
    Adobe Inc.
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2650. doi:
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      Aleena Watson, Shaun Wallace; Improving Reading Outcomes Using Digital Reading Rulers for Readers With & Without Dyslexia. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2650. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Recent research reveals that what helps people with dyslexia can also aid the general population. We digitally recreate reading rulers traditionally used as visual aids by readers with dyslexia to study if they may assist all readers. We present Interlude Reading experiments run on crowdsourced participants (19 readers with and 26 without dyslexia). We measure reading speed impacts using three digital reading rulers (underline, gray-bar, and light-box), the standard mouse cursor, and none-at-all. Crowdworkers read passages normalized to a 12th-grade reading level in Open Sans on desktop computers in their everyday reading environment. The passages average 75-words, accompanied by two post comprehension questions. Results show we controlled for participants' comprehension, familiarity, and interest with reading passages. Our findings show that all participants benefited when using a digital reading ruler, gaining, on average, 86 words-per-minute when comparing their fastest reading ruler versus using none-at-all. Also, participants preferred the light-box in terms of enjoyment and ease of use. Readers without dyslexia read fastest using the gray-bar reading ruler or the mouse cursor, gaining 29 and 36 words-per-minute, respectively. Designers without dyslexia have created reading rulers similar to the gray-bar for readers with dyslexia. Notably, readers with dyslexia read fastest using reading rulers designed by dyslexic designers, gaining 23 words-per-minute with the underline, and read faster 62% of the time when using the light-box reading ruler. While readers with dyslexia read 23 words-per-minute slower on average with the light-box, those who read fastest gained 111 words-per-minute. The underline and light-box reading rulers are higher contrast visual aids than the mouse cursor or gray-bar. These results lay a foundation for collaborations where visual aids are co-developed using inclusive design practices to individuate reading rulers to augment human behavior, thus benefiting readers with dyslexia and the general population alike.


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