✴ Solaria's (Bad) Readability Tips ✴

How to make pages easier to read (without comprimising style). This page will feature some advice on how to make your page more accessable to users who have dyslexia. I have mild dyslexia, so this advice will be mostly based off of my own experiences. Contrary to popular advice, you don't have to severly limit your font selection or impliment a special font for dyslexia. Heavily stylized fonts can be difficult to read (for anyone) but that doesn't mean you have to use exclusively comic sans. More important than the font itself, is spacing, including spacing between letters, words, and lines. Some fonts can be hard to read because the spacing is tight, making it difficult for users to differientiate between letters, words, and lines. This can be easily altered by adjusting the letter-spacing, word-spacing, and line-height properties in CSS. Speaking of word spacing, one of my least favorite text alignments is justified. In order to make the text line up neatly with both the left and right margins, the spacing between the words on each line is different, which is disorienting for the dyslexia reader (or at least me). Not only does justify vary the word spacing, but the block shape of the text makes it easy to lose which line you are on. It can be very easy to lose your place in a text if there are no line breaks or other indication of paragraphs. You may have noticed that this page liberally uses line breaks. You may have come across old HTML websites where the text spans the entire width of your screen (there are no margins), this is something you want to avoid, please use margins. Negative space in general is helpful for dyslexic readers. I would also add extra space before headers, so they do not blend in with the rest of the text. Bold, italics, color coding, highlighting, and boxes are some ways to draw attention to key words/phrases/concepts. These can help ensure that important words are not skimmed over. Using these for negatives (not, don't, no) can be helpful, as if skipped over, the reader may glean the opposite meaning. Tables of data can be very difficult for dyslexia users to read. Having the rows alternate in background color helps to keep the reader on the same row they started on. The narrower the rows are, the more imortant it is to have the rows alternate in background color. While lines between the rows are better than nothing, alternating background color is much more helpful (and if used, render borders redundant). Just be sure that the colors vary in value for color blind users. Headings and lists break up content into smaller, more defined sections. Headings are especially useful for keeping track of where you are in a text, and being able to find content much quicker than skimming. If a list of content is important, consider making a bulleted list. Putting each item on a new line adds importance and is easy to reference when looking back at the text, where as a list within a paragraph is very easy to skip over. Overall, variation can help keep text from looking the same, thus help the reader keep place of where they are in the text (the exception being spacing, which should be consistent). Things to vary: number of lines in paragraphs, number of words/clauses in sentances, style - color, bolding, boxes of content, etc - and importantly, the ratio of variation. If each detail is heavily defined, then it can be hard to see the big picture. If every other word is bolded, then the important words get lost. Likewise line breaks become pointless if there is a break after every single line. Simply put: Less words decreases the amount of words missed. Streamline convoluted sentences. You don't have to make your text choppy, but if you have a lot of clauses in one sentance, consider breaking it up. Think about how you can be more direct and to the point. Edit out words and phrases often used by highschoolers to fluff up their papers. This is not to say you cannot use examples, or be repetitive (these are actually very good tools to ensure dyslexia users don't miss out on information) but sometimes "fancy" phrasing can cloud the meaning of a text. Repetition allows the reader to encounter the same information multiple times, decreasing the possibility that they will pass over it. Not that you should copy/paste you text, but expressing the same information in different ways offers more chances for a user to interpret and potentially undertsand your text. Following an explanation with an example or a metaphor are forms of productive repitition. This is pretty self explanitory; including examples and visual aids for important concepts are helpful for any reader