With so many websites out there on the internet, it’s no surprise that there are 100 billion global searches being conducted each month. But if you have a learning disability like dyslexia, just reading and understanding those search results can be a feat. Now, there’s a website that can replicate that experience for those who don’t have this condition, opening up a world of potential understanding for parents, teachers, and peers.
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities around, affecting five to 10% of the population. But even though it’s prevalent, it’s a condition that isn’t always understood by friends, family, and authority figures. According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia can manifest slightly differently in every person, but for most, it causes major difficulties when reading and/or writing. That can make any kid feel self-conscious, and this new website makes the issues associated with dyslexia a lot more accessible to those who don’t have it. The site recreates the sensation of trying to read a paragraph of text while dealing with dyslexia, which makes it hard to interpret the letters and symbols on a page.
For parents, this simple concept could help a lot. Up to one-third of parents of children with learning disabilities say they don’t feel prepared to take on the challenge. The website shows how words and letters jump and get jumbled around quickly, illuminating just how difficult it is for those with dyslexia to read and process. Interestingly, dyslexia has also been found to impact voice recognition skills, and dyslexia is sometimes accompanied by the existence of other disorders. This makes it imperative for parents and teachers to gain better understanding of what it’s like to live with this condition.
This website can be a helpful tool for friends and family who want to better understand dyslexia, but what about those struggling with dyslexia themselves? One former art student actually designed his own typeface, called Dyslexie, in an aim to make reading easier for those with this condition. Unlike most fonts, Dyslexie is very asymmetric to help readers distinguish one letter from another. Since dyslexia causes many people to switch, rotate, and mirror letters, creator Christian Boer tried to make it easier for those with this disability to recognize letters in a way that the majority of printed typefaces don’t provide. Some have longer “sticks” or serifs, while capital letters are slightly bolded to make them stand out. Research from the University of Twente found that dyslexic readers make fewer mistakes when reading text in Dyslexie. Now, the typeface can be installed onto any computer; it’s been downloaded more than 300,000 times since it became available in 2011. It’s been mostly downloaded by home users, but it’s also used in schools.
Understanding dyslexia and other learning disabilities is paramount in the educational system. Around 25% of at-risk children were found to be more likely to drop out of high school if they did not receive a high-quality preschool education. But simply being enrolled in school from an early age does not always put a child on the path to academic success. Despite the fact that dyslexia has no impact on general intelligence, kids with learning disorders like these are more likely to drop out of school. In a recent report from the National Center For Learning Disabilities, individuals with LDs are more than three times as likely to drop out of school as students without these disabilities. A 2014 report from the NCLD found that 19% of students with a learning disability drop out, making this student population one with the highest drop out rates among all students with a disability. Only students with emotional disturbances have a higher drop out rate.
Early diagnosis is key for managing dyslexia. While parents and teachers may not ever fully understand the complexity of this condition and how it impacts each individual student, there are certain signs that can indicate a child is struggling with dyslexia. Problems with matching up sounds and letters, poor spelling skills, lower reading levels, a lack of concentration, and even anxiety about going to school can be signs of a learning disability like dyslexia. If you think your child may be dealing with a learning disability, it’s best to take action early (with both the school and your primary care physician) and become an advocate for them. That way, your child will get the extra help and attention they need to be successful in school and in life.