Posted in Book Stuff

*Iphone and Dyslexia

This is exciting. Technology fulfilling its promise to enhance quality of life instead of the latest gimmick to first seduce, then overwhelm and, frustrate.

Howard Hill in The Guardian writes about how the Iphone has opened up a world of books to him:

Books which would have been part of many a youthful literary diet had passed me by. Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer – I hadn’t read any of them (but I have now).

The first title I selected was The Count of Monte Cristo. I raced through this on my iPhone in just over a week, my wife asking why I was continually playing with my iPhone. When I’d finished I enjoyed the story so much that I went to buy a copy for a friend. In the bookshop I was amazed. It was more than 1,000 pages!

I’d have thought that the smaller reading space would make reading longer works more tedious. But John Stein, Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford University and chair of the Dyslexia Research Trust explains that the iphone has more space between lines and presents fewer words at a time, which eases the crowding effect that creates confusion for people with dyslexia.

More from Hill:

I was so impressed that I contacted the Dyslexia Society, where Sue Flohr, herself dyslexic, recounted how her iPhone had changed her life. She told me that many others share my experience reading books and the society is in talks with the government over making school textbooks available as eBooks. Flohr said that her iPhone has not only brought greater organisation to her life, it has greatly improved her sense of self-esteem. I share this sense and now see that when I proudly show off my iPhone to others it is not just a new bit of technology, but the centrepoint of my newly ordered life.

I don’t have dyslexia, but I am a slow reader because of the experience that Hill recounts of reading a sentence which sparks off thoughts and causes me to lose my place. I love it when a book is so magnificent that it overcomes all thoughts and analysis of craft to make me lose myself in it. Would that happen more often if I were to read on an Iphone?

H/T Bookninja



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

16 thoughts on “*Iphone and Dyslexia

  1. I feel just the opposite. I don’t like staring at that tiny little screen. But, it’s been months since I’ve read a book, so maybe I ought to try it…

  2. Fascinating. I don’t think I’d like reading a novel on an iPhone, but I *love* the idea of dyslexic students having a reading option that works for them. This will potentially take all the trauma and shame from their learning, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

  3. I’m with Di here, in that it isn’t my first choice, but SUCH good news for dyslexics! I love the fact this guy read a 1,000 page novel and barely felt it!

  4. Agreeing with the cheer for technology making reading easier for dyslexics. I had a friend who overcame her dyslexia by sheer reading volume. I hate reading on screeen as a rule but maybe the iPhone is different.

    1. Pete I had a friend who got through college with severe dyslexia. I had no idea until one time I was helping her write an essay for an application and her first draft would have been completely unreadable if she wasn’t there to interpret the spelling. I was in awe that she had graduated from college when I saw that.

  5. iCab Mobile has been available for a long time (a year today if one assumes “first public version” means “first available on the App Store”; I haven’t followed iCab closely for a few years, so I don’t know for sure when iCab Mobile first appeared in the App Store). Granted iCab has been a WebKit browser for the last several years, but Apple certainly has allowed competing web browsers on the iPhone. That’s not to say that there aren’t problems that make competing web browsers a less-integrated experience, but it’s certainly not the case that Apple has been rejecting “apps that compete with their built-in functionality” in the web browser space, and it hasn’t been this way for a long time (despite what the internet-mind would have us believe ). I have heard that there are other WebKit-based web browsers in the store, too, but I haven’t tried to confirm this.

    Opera Mini is the first non-WebKit “web browser” approved, sure, and this was a big deal—but I agree with Limi that Opera Mini isn’t really a web browser in the sense of Mobile Safari and iCab Mobile. This is a good layman’s technical overview of Opera Mini (written before approval) and this has some good screenshots that illustrate what the not-a-real-browser tradeoff means in UI/UE terms.

  6. I have had my iphone for about 4 weeks and although I feel melodramatic saying it, it really has transformed my life! I found out I was severely dislexic in my 3rd year at uni with one more year to do. I have always hated reading, been disorganised and forgetful and am awful with directions and get lost everywhere! Now I always know what is happening when, I know were I am and i love reading – all thanks to this one AMAZING phone!

  7. Since childhood, beginning in the 1950’s, I have been dyslexic and never found reading easy or an enjoyable pastime. Consequently I have read mostly non-fiction, slowly and deliberately, consequently managed to graduate from UC Berkeley in the late 60’s.
    Howard Hill’s article in the Guardian confirmed my own experience, except I read on an iPod Touch and read “Moby Dick” and “Huckleberry Finn” as my first novels on that device. What a pleasure to read novels (and non-fiction) and not experience the frustration previously caused by my dyslexia.
    I now have over twenty books on my iPod Touch, read whenever I have the chance, and know where my iPod Touch is at all times.

  8. Lilian:
    Oops, my dyslexia lives on when writing — the use of “consequently” twice in the same sentence, ugh.
    Are your books available as ebooks?

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