According to a new study published in the journal PNAS, approximately 5 percent of the school-age population has dyslexia. This language-based disability makes it hard for people to recognize letters and words, especially when they are spaced too close to each other. In the same study, however, researchers found a practical and easy solution that may help dyslexic children read faster. Apparently, simply spacing letters apart may increase their reading speed and accuracy.
Researchers from the University of Padua in Italy asked 34 Italian and 40 French dyslexic children to read two versions of 24 short and unrelated sentences. In the first version, the letters were spaced normally. Two weeks later, they were asked to read the same sentences—only this time, the spacing was increased by 2.5 font sizes. From what researchers could see, there was a definite improvement in both the Italian and French kids. "We were surprised by the magnitude of the spacing benefit," says study author Marco Zorzi, who is also a professor of psychology and artificial intelligence.
This is good news, especially since a lot of texts are now in digital form. With e-books becoming increasingly popular, parents with dyslexic children will now have a better chance of helping their kids develop their language skills by adjusting the spacing on school texts or books.
(Photo by Dottie Mae via Flickr Creative Commons)