Are you a tutor who is looking to appeal to as wide of a range of university students as possible? If so, you are probably trying to put a website together to get your services and fees in a place where students can see them. However, there is one group that you may have overlooked: those that have dyslexia.
What Is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a condition that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is a type of learning disability that can make it difficult for people to decode and recognize written words and understand the meaning of what they are reading.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, the prevalence of dyslexia is estimated to be between 5% and 17% of the population, depending on the specific criteria used to define dyslexia and the characteristics of the population studied.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition, and it can affect people of all ages and intelligence levels. It is not related to vision problems or lack of intelligence but rather to the way the brain processes language. People with dyslexia may struggle with phonological processing, which is the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds in spoken language, as well as with working memory and attention.
So, as you can see, it can present a real issue for people who have it and need to look through websites! Also, as there is a disproportionate number of people with dyslexia among university students, this can put a real crimp in your role as a tutor or other educational professional if you have a webpage.
Issues With Websites And Dyslexia
Now, you may be wondering what some of the issues are that people with dyslexia face when looking through websites. Well, it isn’t a short list, and there is a lot of information about web accessibility for people who have dyslexia (as well as other impairments that may affect the user’s experience of websites).
Remember, people with dyslexia may experience difficulty reading and understanding text due to a range of issues related to how their brains process information. While dyslexia affects individuals differently, some common problems with websites can make it challenging for people with dyslexia to access and understand online information.
One common issue is the use of small fonts or fonts that are difficult to read. People with dyslexia often have trouble distinguishing between letters, especially those that look similar, such as “b” and “d” or “p” and “q.” Websites that use small fonts or fonts with poor contrast can exacerbate this issue, making it harder for people with dyslexia to read and understand the text.
OK, so if you are trying to teach someone with dyslexia about dental care, jargon is just going to throw them off, as it would most people! Those with dyslexia may struggle with decoding and understanding complex sentences or technical terms. Websites that use complex language or jargon may make it challenging for people with dyslexia to understand the information presented.
So, aim to use simple language, irrespective of what you are talking about, and it may help many other website visitors too!
If you want to make someone with dyslexia nervous, present them with a block of text with no breaks in it!
Similarly, long blocks of text or large paragraphs can be challenging for people with dyslexia to read and understand. This can be especially true when there is no clear organization or structure to the information presented. Websites that use clear headings and subheadings, bullet points, and shorter paragraphs can make it easier for people with dyslexia to navigate and understand online content.
Also, as a side note, people who have dyslexia can experience something called ‘text jumping.’ This is where, when reading text, it appears to move around and jump. As you can imagine, if you are trying to extract information from text, this can be bad, and it can be tougher for people with dyslexia to get past this if there are large blocks of text.
So, try to avoid this at all times!
Some websites may also use images or graphics that are not accessible to people with dyslexia. For example, if an image contains text that is not provided as alternative text, people with dyslexia may not be able to understand the information presented. Similarly, videos that are not captioned or transcribed can be challenging for people with dyslexia to access and understand.
Color choices can also impact how people with dyslexia perceive and understand online content. Some individuals with dyslexia may have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors, such as blue and purple or green and brown. Websites that use color coding or color-based navigation may be confusing or inaccessible to people with dyslexia if the colors used are difficult to distinguish.
Finally, some websites may have flashing or moving content that can be distracting or disorienting for people with dyslexia. This can include animated graphics, flashing advertisements, or scrolling text. For people with dyslexia, these types of content can make it challenging to focus on and understand the information presented on the website.
Now, it’s important to note that even if you are brand new to being a tutor, there are many ways to make your content and website more accessible to people that have dyslexia.
Use A Dyslexia-Friendly Font
Yes, there are fonts that people with dyslexia find easier to read!
Websites should use dyslexia-friendly fonts, such as OpenDyslexic or Dyslexie, which are designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia.
Use a Larger Font Size
Websites should use a larger font size to make it easier for people with dyslexia to read. A font size of at least 16pt is recommended.
Use Clear Headings and Subheadings
All websites should use clear headings and subheadings to help organize content and make it easier to navigate. This can also help people with dyslexia better understand the structure of the content.
Use Short Paragraphs
Webpages that want to tick the accessibility box should use short paragraphs to make it easier for people with dyslexia to read and understand the content. Shorter paragraphs can also help break up large blocks of text and make it easier to scan for information. As before, it also reduces text jumping, which can be very distracting for people with dyslexia.
Use Alternative Text For Images
Websites should use alternative text for images so that people with dyslexia can understand the information presented in the picture.
Use Captions and Transcripts For Videos
Websites looking to increase accessibility should use captions and transcripts for videos so that people with dyslexia can understand the information presented in the video.