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Posted 25th May, 2011 by Jocelyn Gronow

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This article was written in 2011, when e readers were relatively new.  Now look how they impact on our reading habits!

Who will be the first to produce an e book reader with the facility to colour tint the screen? For them, potentially, the market of:

  • 10% of the population as a whole
  • 60% of people who are dyslexic

…… who find reading black text on a white background difficult.

There are a growing number of e book readers on the market. There are numerous models ranging in price from under £100 to over £200. The most popular are the Amazon Kindle and the Sony available from Waterstones [no longer available]

Manufacturers are keen to develop an e book which is slim, small and has sharp contrast between the black text and white background. As yet no one has produced an e book reader where the reader can change the colour of the background colour, to improve text stability and readability and reduce visual stress. Disappointingly, the author of this article did not even receive an acknowledgement from Sony when she e mailed them research data about visual stress, caused by reading black text on a white background.

However there is some good news.

  1. The Kindle 3 and Sony both have a facility for reducing the contrast between the text and the background, which may reduce visual stress for some people.

And, arguably, more important ……

  1. The Kindle 3 has a text to speech facility and a headphone jack. This, together with the built in dictionary, could make it a useful addition to the range of assistive technology available for people who are dyslexic.

With access to articles on the internet, together with drop down menus and images, Kindle 3 may be a valuable research tool for students. It also offers a change of format to single column, again retaining pictures, which can also be used in a portrait or landscape format. A stylus can be used to aid tracking and there is also a virtual ruler to assist.

The Sony e book reader is pleasing to the eye, light and slim and has a number of useful study aids like highlighting, annotating, note taking, drawing and eraser facilities, but without the addition of text to speech, it may fail to grab the attention of students and readers who are dyslexic. Possibly a market missed, Sony!  Figures vary, but it is generally accepted that at least 10% of the population are dyslexic.

We, at Dyslexia Positive, would welcome information from people who are dyslexic about their experience of using e book readers.

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  • Freddie

    The Stanza ebook app for the iPad allows you to change the text and background colours.

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