100 Days of A11y

Day 52: Users with Reading Difficulties

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Screen readers. They're just for the blind and visually impaired, right? Wrong! There's a whole other class of screen readers and screen reader users that often get little recognition. I'm talking about people who have difficulty reading. This group contains a wide spectrum that may include, but is not limited to, people with ADHD, dyslexia, Irlen syndrome, or memory loss. And I'm accusing myself of not acknowledging this group when it comes to envisioning people who use screen readers (text to speech technology).

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There is a stark difference between screen reader use by people with reading difficulties as compared to the blind. For one, the first group doesn't need all things read. They mostly need assistance with having some text read aloud, rather than having everything read aloud along with additional navigational aids. A couple of screen readers that benefit this group:

Another strategy that people with reading difficulties use to access content on the web is to change styles on a web page or document. This includes customizing font size, color, and family. Using true text, rather than text inside of images, makes the reading experience for this group of people more enjoyable and inclusive.

Examples of barriers that may stand between people with reading difficulties and the web content they pursue: