I was hopeless at school, messy and terrible at spelling. And although the term dyslexia was not something I came across until much later in life, when I did I understood immediately that I had a number of its symptoms. My writing often had a jumbled logic. The advent of computers, of course, brought spell-checkers, but even so my word blindness can carry such conviction that I sometimes find myself staring incredulously at the red line underneath words, before finally realising that "during" does not begin with a "J".
Recently, at the age of 57, I got an iPhone. Like many, I spent the first few hours loading up apps, including a Classics book app. Some weeks later, while mending a client's computer, waiting for the blue line to progress slowly across the screen, I began reading. The first thing I noticed was that, while familiar with many of the books on the app, having seen a film version or been read them as a child, I had not myself read a single one. 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! Had I been presented with the book in this form I would never have read it. It would have been too much like climbing a mountain.
So why I had found it easier to read from my iPhone? First, an ordinary page of text is split into about four pages. The spacing seems generous and because of this I don't get lost on the page. Second, the handset's brightness makes it easier to take in words. "Many dyslexics have problems with 'crowding', where they're distracted by the words surrounding the word they're trying to read," says John Stein, Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford University and chair of the Dyslexia Research Trust. "When reading text on a small phone, you're reducing the crowding effect."
I was so impressed that I contacted the Dyslexia Society, where Sue Flohr, herself dyslexic, recounted how her iPhone had changed her life.My iPhone has revolutionised my reading
by Howard Hill
Guardian April 6, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
iPhones for dyslexia?
in the Guardian: