E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia

Dr. Schneps

While many people have embraced e-readers for their convenience, researchers at the Science Education Department of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are demonstrating the benefits e-readers can provide to people with dyslexia. In their paper, "E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia," principal investigator Matthew H. Schneps, along with Jenny M. Thomson, Chen Chen, Gerhard Sonnert, and Marc Pomplun, report the results of their study of dyslexic high schoolers using e-readers. They found that small-screen hand-held devices facilitated an improvement in reading speed and comprehension in many of the students. Combining these results with an earlier study of theirs, the authors speculate that the shorter lines and less crowded text of small e-readers helps reduce word fixation and reading regression. While the authors emphasize that not all dyslexic subjects showed improvement with e-readers, they conclude that the rapid evolution of digital technologies holds promise for making reading more accessible to those with dyslexia.

Dr. Schneps is the founder and director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Center for Astrophysics. His research on science education has recently focused on how neurological differences, especially dyslexia, affect learning. He has recently written on the cognitive advantages associated with dyslexia, and has shared his own experiences as a scientist with dyslexia.

Feature by Mitu Choksi, OSC Open Access Fellow and graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School.