More questions

1. Publishing.
2. Literacy.
3. Text to speech.
4. Touch typing.

1. Publishing.

Unjustified text.

It has been suggested that right side unjustified text is easier for those with dyslexia to understand. Is there any evidence for this?

Reasons that dyslexic people give are:


  • The extra spacing creates ‘rivers of white’ on the page.
  • It is difficult to track from the end of a line to the beginning of the next one, and particularly to find the place for re-reading phrases.
  • Automatic word splitting is used with right justified text to reduce extra spaces between words. This can be difficult to read. A classic example was a Driving Theory Test manual draft which had opera-
    tion. ‘Opera’ in a driving manual?



See: 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users.

Calibri font.

My college has heard that the new Microsoft default font Calibri is more economical in using toner. Is it a dyslexia friendly style?

We have not heard any comments about Calibri. It has slightly wider letter-spacing than Arial, which is good, but it does not have a rounded ‘g’.

We suggest that the College should consult its students, let us know the outcome, and make all documents available electronically, so that students can view them on-screen or print them in their preferred font style and size, or listen to them with text-readers if they wish. Linked Contents lists are essential.

See B.D.A. tech page on typefaces for dyslexia.

Web links.

I was led to believe that on websites links should not be placed within a sentence or prose as this can disrupt the movement of the eye across the page and affect readability. But looking at the B.D.A. website I found a couple of examples. Have I been misled?

You have a point that we should consider. However, it is better to have a link in context than to expect a dyslexic reader to look at the end of the paragraph, page or article and maybe lose his place in the text. Now that web addresses are often very long, it is the custom to hide the URL behind the company name etc. so that will be less disruptive.

On-line services.

What barriers might be faced by people with dyslexia using on-line services?

A telephone number for enquiries displayed prominently instead of being tucked away in Contact Us, often in very small print at the bottom of a webpage, would be helpful.  Some websites do not even offer a telephone facility and require people to fill out customer service forms, or similar. This is not dyslexia friendly.

Vowels in a different font colour.

I’m an Adult Literacy teacher in a College. One of my learners finds text a lot more accessible when presented in a format with all vowels in a different font colour to the black consonants. Do you know of any other tool available to allow this useful support for learners?

In Word, you can do this for each vowel in turn:


  • Cursor at beginning of text.
  • Control H for Find and Replace
  • Find what: type a
  • Replace with: type a
  • With cursor still in ‘Replace with’, at bottom of screen click on Format/Font/Font color.
  • Select a color. Click ok. Click Replace all.



Wordcard generator, (a brilliant program for creating resources for teachers to use with pupils, £30 SU license) has a setting where all rules or phonic patterns or vowels etc. can be automatically coloured when presented in a colour of choice. It saves hours of time!

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2. Literacy.

On-line phonics scheme.

Would it be suitable to use an on-line phonics tutorial system with my 7 year old son?

He may get confused if the phonics look and sound different from Letters and Sounds used in most schools. Perhaps you could liaise with the school and reinforce its teaching. The school could suggest related Wordshark or Nessy activities to use in a multi-sensory way.

Spelling for Key Stage 3 level.

My 14 year old daughter is having difficulties with spelling in examinations, but she is not at a pre-Key Stage Two level.

Wordshark4 is one of the most popular. It has plenty of activities and many word lists including those covering KS3 vocabulary. The Nessy games have some good activities. Starspell is a useful spelling program which also has suitable lists of words and allows you to enter your own selection.

A handheld spellchecker such as those made by Franklin, with a phonetic dictionary, would be especially helpful to her.

Literacy in a prison.

I’m about to take up a Writer’s Residency at a prison, helping to improve inmate’s communication skills including writing and drama. What would you recommend to help dyslexic adults to use Word. Text-to-speech applications, etc.?

See B.D.A. tech page on Using Microsoft Word 2007 and the page on Text to Speech. Free WordTalk is fairly simple to install and use. Another useful free resource is MyStudyBar suite of applications. There have been several projects in prisons using the franchised program Touch Type Read and Spell.

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3. Text to Speech

Reading order within pages.

Why does the PDFaloud text-to-speech in Read & Write Gold jump about the page randomly rather than reading down the page from the top?

Publishers are getting better at tagging the reading order within pages, but PDFaloud in Texthelp Read & Write does not observe the settings as well as other text to speech. At least the words can be high-lighted, so that you can see which bit is being read.

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4. Touch typing.

For a 15 year old?

I have looked at the I.C.T. web-pages but don’t know which program to invest in! Many of them seem aimed at younger children and might be a bit demoralising for a bright 15 year old boy, recently identified as dyslexic, to use on laptops for all school work?

The program KAZ is one which is not aimed at younger pupils if he really wants to touch type. Most people develop their own keyboard skills and become pretty competent by using the keyboard regularly anyway. Your son probably uses predictive typing on a mobile phone, so he might like to use it in ClaroRead, TextHelp Read and Write, or Crick’s WriteOnLine, which also all have text-to-speech, a good phonetic spellchecker and a planning tool.

For fire fighters?

Typing program for fire fighters, to increase their accuracy and speed in typing for messages between control operators?

See B.D.A. tech page on typing skills, details of two free programs on the Freeware page, and a review of typing tutors, from the dyslexia point of view on Iansyst web. Another possibility would be Speech Recognition software.

Keyboard or Speech?

I am a dyslexic, dyspraxic adult, with deteriorating eyesight. I have Vista on my computer. What typing program would help me to use the keyboard more easily. I tried Dragon in its early days and could not get on with it.

Dragon is now much, much better. Try the free Speech Recognition available in Windows. The training of the program to recognise your voice is built-into the introduction to the program. It may be enough if you do not need text reading feedback and or if you can spot its misinterpretations. If that is successful, you could consider Dragon again.

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See other enquiries in Questions and Speech Recognition Questions. Do Contact us with your questions.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. August 2015.
Copies of this page may be made providing it is unchanged and the source is acknowledged.

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