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Fact: A recent study at Harvard showed that it may be easier for dyslexics to read on a smaller screen.

A Harvard professor named Dr Matt Scheps has recently studied the optimal screen size for dyslexic readers.

He is an astrophysicist who struggles with dyslexia. One day he downloaded a newspaper onto his smartphone and found that reading it was far easier and faster than when he picked up the physical newspaper. He was intrigued by the finding, and wanted to explore the physiological underpinnings that made this the case.

193420-ipad_iphone_350He ran a controlled experiment with high school dyslexic readers comparing reading tasks on a small screen phone vs a larger screen tablet. The results strongly showed that the smaller screen helped them read not only faster, but with more focus.

During the study, he tracked their eye movements, and found that when they read on the small screen device, their eye-tracking improved significantly, with them making fewer eye-movement motions per line.

He and his team believe the small screen acts almost like blinders on a horse, preventing distraction and focusing the reader.

Eye-tracking difficulty is not unique to dyslexic readers, nor it is always present in readers with dyslexia. However, it is quite common and we find it is the second most frequently seen underlying cause of reading difficulty.

While a small screen may help much in the way a Bandaid patches a wound, it’s important to try to remediate the weak tracking with exercises and targeted vision therapy.

You can listen to an interview with Dr Schneps here:

Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for the Easyread System, an online course that uses Guided Phonetic Reading to help struggling readers with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, highly visual learning styles and more.