Reading is one of the best ways to gather information and absorb entertainment. However, for people with diminished vision or neurodivergences like dyslexia, the act of reading may look a lot different from what most of us are conditioned to recognize.
Most of us read with our eyes. We look at the characters on the screen or sheet of paper and process information via signals from the nerves supplying our peepers.
When it comes to dyslexia or Irlen Syndrome, we may need assistive devices to help our processing speeds. Here are a few things we may do to help ourselves:
- Wear specially tinted glasses
- Use colored overlays
- Change the background color of browsers or word programs
- Use colored paper instead of white for notes
- Keep our places with bookmarks or our fingers as we go
- Read aloud to ourselves from time to time
- Change font size, shape or color
While none of these completely eliminate all of the challenges that come with eye reading, they can make it much easier on us.
When you listen to an audio-book, you’re reading with your ears. It’s not “cheating” or laziness; it’s just another way of gathering information from a book.
When most people think of audio-books, they think of road trips or something to listen to while doing chores. For someone with severe dyslexia or vision loss, however, audio-books can be a way of keeping up with their homework, research and discovering the rich worlds only books can provide.
Especially if you’re an auditory learner, these types of books may actually work better for you than traditional books.
Braille is another version of reading that’s rarely acknowledged, but widely known. You can sometimes find braille alongside written text in public places, but I don’t know what sort of availability there is in terms of actual books or periodicals.
Usually utilized by people with low vision, braille uses the sense of touch to read. I personally don’t know much about it, but it’s on my list of things to study in 2016, along with American Sign Language.
Part of making accommodation easier to come by is in normalizing it. Not everyone reads in the same way, but the fact sight-reading, without any sort of accommodation, is so prized and emphasized discourages people who do need help from getting it.
Further, it backs up the bullying people do face when they use their accommodations. Keeping your place with your finger or listening exclusively to audio-books isn’t a sign of lower intelligence or weakness. It’s just another way of living our lives.
Even if you don’t have any sort of neurodivergence or sensory differences, it may be worth it to try some of these different types of reading yourself. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself and others.