A new study has found that the small amount of text you can see on your handheld device may make it vastly easier for people with learning disabilities to comprehend. Soon, of course, there will be an app for that.
When Dr. Matthew Schneps needs to read, he turns to his iPhone 4S. The handset’s 3.5-inch screen squeezes text into one skinny column, which is helpful because the Harvard astrophysicist has dyslexia. Schneps finds the repackaged text easier to focus on, allowing him to better absorb everything from news articles to books to technical papers.
Before Schneps discovered this tactic, he had given up reading books and struggled to parse the scientific proposals and papers he encountered as an academic. Reading felt “overwhelming,” he says. Now Schneps is bringing his method to a broader audience. Backed by the National Science Foundation and a Youth Access Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he and several other researchers from the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are investigating whether people with dyslexia benefit from reading on handheld devices with small screens.