How to present written materials so that people with dyslexia can read them!

This is something that I have been meaning to post for a while but was reminded by a forum thread I was reading last night about professional and ‘unprofessiona’ fonts to use in documents such as job application forms.  the British Dyselxia Association provides a very thorough ‘Style Guide’ on how to present information in the most accessible fashion to those with dyslexia. 

The ‘Style Guide’ can be downloaded here and the rest of the site is worth checking out too.  Some of the information is condensed below.

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Dyslexia Friendly Text

The aim is to ensure that written material takes into account the visual stress experienced by some dyslexic people, and to facilitate ease of reading.
Adopting best practice for dyslexic readers has the advantage of making documents easier on the eye for everyone.

Media

  • Paper should be thick enough to prevent the other side showing through.
  • Use matt paper rather than glossy. Avoid digital print processing which tends to leave paper shiny.
  • Avoid white backgrounds for paper, computer and visual aids. White can appear too dazzling. Use cream or a soft pastel colour. Some dyslexic people will have their own colour preference.

Font

  • Use a plain, evenly spaced sans serif font such as Arial and Comic Sans. Alternatives include Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Trebuchet.
  • Font size should be 12-14 point. Some dyslexic readers may request a larger font.
  • Use dark coloured text on a light (not white) background.
  • Avoid green and red/pink as these are difficult for colour-blind individuals.

Headings and Emphasis

  • Avoid underlining and italics: these tend to make the text appear to run together. Use bold instead.
  • AVOID TEXT IN BLOCK CAPITALS: this is much harder to read.
  • For Headings, use larger font size in bold, lower case.
  • Boxes and borders can be used for effective emphasis.

Layout

  • Use left-justified with ragged right edge.
  • Avoid narrow columns (as used in newspapers).
  • Lines should not be too long: 60 to70 characters.
  • Avoid cramping material and using long, dense paragraphs: space it out.
  • Line spacing of 1.5 is preferable.
  • Avoid starting a sentence at the end of a line.
  • Use bullet points and numbering rather than continuous prose.

Writing Style

  • Use short, simple sentences in a direct style.
  • Give instructions clearly. Avoid long sentences of explanation.
  • Use active rather than passive voice.
  • Avoid double negatives.
  • Be concise.

Increasing accessibility

  • Flow charts are ideal for explaining procedures.
  • Pictograms and graphics help to locate information.
  • Lists of ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ are more useful than continuous text to highlight aspects of good practice.
  • Avoid abbreviations if possible or provide a glossary of abbreviations and jargon.
  • For long documents include a contents page at the beginning and an index at end.

**with thanks to the British Dyslexia Assoiation for information and image