Dyslexia affects as many as one in every four people, according to some estimates. That’s a heckuva lot of people who struggle to read, worldwide. Every reading task, for those with dyslexia, is a chore. And yet, today, with the technology boom, reading is integral to our everyday lives. What would our lives be, for instance, without Facebook and Twitter, which necessitate, on a very basic level, an ability to read?
This is something we’ve encountered over at Kars4Kids, where we make a specialty of mentoring children and their families. Like most nonprofit organizations, we’ve discovered that social media is an excellent way to reach our public, both donors, and those who benefit from our services. But with so many people affected by reading difficulties, we’ve found that we often need to discover workarounds to help people learn about all we have on offer by way of social media.
You’ve probably encountered people with dyslexia in various social media venues. They make frequent typos in their comments and posts, and sometimes there may seem to be some disconnect between a post and a comment someone has made that just doesn’t quite fit. They must have misread what you’d written or they would not have made that particular comment, right? Most likely, you shrug it off and move on. After all, you’re not the grammar and spelling police.
It’s a shame that people with dyslexia must struggle when there may be an easy fix within reach of anyone with a computer. It’s all about changing the font. Some fonts are simply known to be easier for people with dyslexia to read.
Any of the sans serif fonts, for instance, are bound to ease reading for people with dyslexia, as the letters lack the little curly tails most of us don’t notice but that are the bane of every dyslexic’s reading experience. Trebuchet is known to be a good font for people with dyslexia, as is Comic Sans. It seems that every day, there’s a new font to try that is designed to aid those with reading difficulties.
That’s great when you’re working in WORD. You can experiment with various fonts and find what works. That’s a big relief when you’ve got a paper to write.
But while there are special fonts available that ease reading for those with dyslexia, these aren’t available on the Facebook or Twitter interfaces, for instance. That can be a bummer for someone who loves using social media but finds it hard to read certain typefaces. It’s also kind of unfair if you think about it: if one in four people find it hard to read, why should they have to struggle to avail themselves of social media and all it has to offer?
And of course, it’s not just about social media but webpage interfaces in general. What can someone with dyslexia do about a webpage interface in a font that is difficult to read?
As it turns out, quite a lot.
It’s an easy fix to override the fonts and colors used on websites. For Internet Explorer, all you need do is click the start button, click on Internet Explorer, click on the Tools button, and then click “Internet Options.”
From there you click on the “General” tab, and then “Accessibility.” Here you can choose which overrides you want. You can choose to ignore the colors, the font styles, and font sizes specified on webpages. You can even choose all three. Just check the boxes and click “OK” twice.
Prefer working in Chrome? No problem.
Just click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar. It looks like three horizontal bars. Choose “settings,” click “Show advanced settings” and then go to “Web Content.”
Next, click “Customize fonts,” and specify your preferred font and font size. Easy peasy.
Stuck on Mozilla Firefox? Also not a problem.
Go to the top of your Firefox browser, click the Firefox button and select “Options.” Choose “Content” then use the drop down menus to select the font and font size you prefer. To disable the custom fonts used by websites, click “Advanced” and uncheck the box next to “Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of my selections above.”
Click “OK” to close the fonts window, and then click “OK” to close the “Options” window.
Voila. Now you can surf in a way that makes sense to you. Or at least, makes surfing and using social media much less trying. Welcome to the world!