Published: 29 September 2021 at 23:00
New study finds significant benefits for both dyslexic and non-dyslexic children
A new study has found that a child’s reading speed can be improved by simply increasing the space between letters within a piece of text.
The research, led by Dr Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), examined the benefits of letter spacing and coloured overlays amongst a group of dyslexic and non-dyslexic children. It is the first study to investigate how these adaptations can help to reduce specific reading errors.
Published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities, the study discovered that text with increased space between each letter provided a benefit to both groups of children. On average, the dyslexia group showed a 13% increase in reading speed, while the comparison group of non-dyslexic children showed a 5% increase in reading speed.
The study involved 59 children aged between 11-15, 32 of whom had a statement of dyslexia, with 27 non-dyslexic children forming a control group. The participants were recruited from six schools in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and London.
Participants read four texts with either standard or extra-large letter spacing, both with and without a coloured overlay. The children were instructed to read the text out loud while being recorded. The recording was used to measure the number of errors they made – specifically missed words, added words, wrong words, and pronunciation – as well as the participants’ reading time.
In addition to improved reading speed for both children with dyslexia and the non-dyslexic group, the larger letter spacing also resulted in a significant reduction in the number of words being missed by the children with dyslexia. However, the study found that coloured overlays had no significant impact on reading speed or the reduction of errors for either group of children.
Dr Stagg, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: