User research, when done well, provides a deeper understanding of users’ needs. It surfaces new solutions and opportunities, and can often save you from investing money in the wrong solutions or features for your web project.
05.11.2020 Strategy and Design
Dyslexia is a common learning condition that impacts 15-20% of the population. It makes word recognition, spelling, and word decoding more challenging. The two most common variants of dyslexia are phonological dyslexia and surface dyslexia (though symptoms of dyslexia may present differently on an individual basis). Phonological dyslexia is linked to auditory processing, making it harder to distinguish individual word sounds and syllables, and blending those sounds into words. Surface dyslexia is visual in nature, causing difficulty with recognition and spelling; this is intensified with words that aren’t spelled phonetically.
In this interview, Jules and Rebecca talk about how you can make your website more accessible and easier for everyone to use.
Rebecca: I found out I had dyslexia later in life, I was already in high school. I have mild dyslexia, it was harder to diagnose at a younger age. I always felt I had a learning disability, but I blamed it on growing up in a household with dual languages. I would mix letters and numbers up frequently, and I had a hard time memorizing and reading for school assignments. In high school one of my teachers noticed I would mix my letters and numbers often, she asked me if I was ever diagnosed with dyslexia. Since then I have been learning to live a life with dyslexia.
Rebecca: Having dyslexia has changed my perspective on style. I used to be in awe of beautiful sites, with cool designs and fonts. I don’t have a problem with design, as long as it is accessible for all users. I see websites through the lens of compassion.
Rebecca: Sites cluttered with content and not a lot of white space. Designs that do not have headings or images to breakup text. I have had problems with cluttered navigation, especially a mega menu with a gazillion links. It gives me a headache.
Hard to read:
Easier to read:
Test your colors for accessible contrast. A contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is great. If the contrast is too great (black text on a white background is 25:1), it creates a challenge for people with dyslexia. Find a nice balance somewhere in the middle.
Rebecca: I use a chrome extension called dyslexia friendly, it changes the font to be heavier on the bottom, it also highlights each line. This helps to separate text. For sites with heavy text, like news sites, I use a reader.
Rebecca: Pay close attention to fonts and spacing. Backgrounds and text should have good contrast. These two are very important.
Rebecca: Do not use serif fonts or italics! Breakup content with images. Avoid white backgrounds with black text, too much contrast is hard to read.
You don’t need to pick aesthetics or usability. If you prioritize accessibility when designing, you can make a beautiful website that is usable, informative, and accessible to the 43.5 million people – in the US alone – with dyslexia.`
“Dyslexia FAQ.” Yale Dyslexia, dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/dyslexia-faq/.
Friedmann, Naama, and Max Coltheart. “35 .Types of Developmental Dyslexia.” Handbook of Communication Disorders, 2018, pp. 721–752., doi:10.1515/9781614514909-036.
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