Did you know October is Dyslexia Awareness Month? The aim of Dyslexia Awareness Month is, of course, to bring awareness to an often-misunderstood neurological condition. It also offers a prime reminder of how certain web accessibility best practices can make a big difference in making web content easier to use for people with dyslexia.
So, what is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that can involve challenges with memorization, reading, writing and spelling. Dyslexia is a problem with decoding language, rather than the common misconception that it is a problem with vision. In fact, people with dyslexia are just as likely to have normal intelligence and fine vision.
Although there’s no cure for dyslexia and signs can be difficult to recognize, detection can help. In children, signs may include late talking, reading below the expected level, difficulty remembering names of letters or colors, and difficulty spelling. In adults, signs may include slow reading and writing, mispronouncing words, and difficulty with math problems.
What is web accessibility and how can it help?
Web accessibility refers to the creation of web pages and content so that people with disabilities can make full use of the digital materials. Fancy font styles and flashy graphics might catch your eye, but do they take away from the message you’re trying to send? Knowing some of the signs and symptoms above, you can imagine how some people with dyslexia could find it difficult (or more difficult than it needs to be) to interact with your online offerings.
Are there any accessibility best practices to follow in order to accommodate people with dyslexia?
Absolutely. There are many ways to make your web page more friendly for everyone, including those with dyslexia. Font, layout, and the way text is emphasized are all important considerations to ensure accessibility.
While font is somewhat of an individual preference, the most common, visually-appealing, and often easiest to read include fonts like Arial, Veranda, and Tahoma. These sans-serif fonts are all plain, evenly spaced, and free of unnecessarily-distracting elements.
The size of the font can also play a significant factor in accessibility. Consider fonts that are large enough, like 12 or 14 pt, to assist with readability. Also, if you emphasize any words on your page, some say the most clean and effective method is to simply use bold. Over-using other methods such as CAPITALS, italics, or underline can distract, disrupt, and confuse readers.
Layout is another component that can impact your page’s readability. Usually, text should be left-justified and paragraphs are best when they're short and succinct (think scannable versus a wall of text). Many readers will immediately skip over paragraphs that look too long, are single-spaced, or otherwise look daunting.
Images and graphics can be a welcome addition to text, too, since they can help break up content and reinforce the message of the text or aid in its comprehension. Some people are visual learners and might benefit from seeing a chart or other non-textual representation of the information.
Make your website more accessible to people with dyslexia
During Dyslexia Awareness Month and always, you can help make sure your website is usable to as many people as possible with the right accessibility testing and monitoring. For help making your website or app accessible, contact us or get started with a free website accessibility scan.