Image credit: Bits and Splits
By Niamh Rich
Audio books have taken off in this century, making reading more accessible, dynamic, and immediate, but it’s nothing compared to holding a physical book. Dyslexia is a hidden disability that is often missed in any diagnosis. Seen in around 5-10% of the population, many people are limited to what they can read due to the internal struggle.
More should be done to increase the accessible nature of reading for people of all abilities. There are limited publishers that make special allowances for people with dyslexia – with the bigger publishing houses not having the same accessibility or showing any interest in increasing the accessible nature of a physical book for people with dyslexia. So why don’t they?
The stereotypes surrounding dyslexia mean people believe that those who have the disability don’t wish to read or that they simply can’t. These stereotypes need to be broken. It’s the lack of provisions available that stops them.
Publishers have the unutilised ability to make the physicality of reading more accessible for people of all ages with a variation of genres. But there are a multitude of ways to increase accessibility that would allow texts to reach a whole new audience that might not otherwise purchase their books. This, understandably, would be an expensive task to complete but it makes publishing and reading more diverse, and a better service for people, as it becomes more inclusive, which the dyslexia community would greatly appreciate.
Yes, the price of the books may increase. Surely, no one would mind? For parents of children with dyslexia it might make them more inclined to read, and for adults it gives them something they wouldn’t have had before. Some of the ways to increase the accessibility includes reducing the number of words on the page and increasing line margins. This makes it easier for readers to follow the texts as the lines won’t blur into one another. Bigger margins mean there is more space to follow the lines with their fingers. The reduction of words present on the page makes it less daunting for the readers. They won’t feel overwhelmed, like they’re drowning in words. Colour is one of the most important aspects for coping with dyslexia. Everyone has a colour overlay that works best for them. The use of colour for people of all ages will help make the reading experience easier.
These design changes will aid the range of reading available for people with dyslexia by engaging with the most obvious ways to increase the accessibility of reading. This gives people with dyslexia a chance to engage with the physicality of a book. A luxury that they are not often afforded. A new and diverse world is created that gives an opportunity to experience the physicality of a real book, over a reliance on the audio book, to engage with the world of literature. Surely everyone is entitled to this opportunity?