How Dyslexia Friendly are Your Documents?

Yesterday I attended a course on dyslexia, and the trainer gave us a few tips to make your documents easier to read and process for people with dyslexia. They are easy to implement and will have no, or very little, cost to you or your organisation.

One of the problems people with dyslexia have is glare from the paper. This can cause words to appear squashed together with big spaces between which sometime resemble rivers running down the page. To help counter this:

  • Use cream paper instead of white for hand-outs
  • Don’t cram too much text on a page. Leave plenty of space.
  • Use a minimum point size of 12 for printed documents and 28 for PowerPoint presentations.

It is difficult for them to distinguish between certain letters such as b and d, or p and q. Simple ways to help with this are:

  • Use a dyslexia-friendly font: Comic Sans, Tahoma, Verdana and Primary Sassoon are the best. In an emergency Arial will do, although the letters in Arial are less rounded so it is not quite so good.
  • Never use serif fonts (the ones with flicks) such as Times New Roman.
  • Never use block capitals for headings. Capitals have no ascenders (sticks up like in b d h) or descenders (tails below the line like in g p y) so it is harder to distinguish between the letters.
  • Never use underlining, because the line mixes in with the letters) or italics because that distorts the letter shapes. To emphasis a word or phrase use bold.

Finally, people with dyslexia find it difficult to track along a line of text and then back to the beginning of the next line. To help make this process easier:

  • Use a minimum line space of 1.5.
  • Avoid using columns as this means they have to track back more often.
  • Use bullet points to break up long, text heavy paragraphs.
  • Always left align documents rather than justifying it.
  • Don’t start a new sentence at the end of a line.

Many thanks to Rachel Ingham for these ideas. If you have any other ideas for making documents more dyslexia-friendly I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

Related posts:
A Multisensory Approach to Spelling
A Multisensory Approach to Reading

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