Open Dyslexic- Open source dyslexia friendly font

Logo for Open Dyslexic type faceOn the back of our recent shameless promotion the suggestions for resources which we might find useful have begun rolling in, this one here came from Luiza (Thanks loads) over in the universities Chemistry department. I have to admit I had never come across a dyslexic friendly font before but like all good ideas it seems such a simple and obvious concept now.

Well I’ve installed it and given it a quick trial run (writing this post) and have to admit it is easy on the eyes and I find that my gaze doesn’t jitter around the page anywhere near as much as it usually does.

I would recommend though that you have your line spacing (and possibly character spacing) a little more than you would normally as I found it looked just a little too cramped for my liking. An optical illusion created by the bolder base to each character.

Here is the link: http://opendyslexic.org/

Have a go and please let us know in the comments bellow, I sure others would like to hear your thoughts.

Reading on screen fatigue

We’ve had some feedback asking for more detail on how to overcome reading on screen fatigue and put those headaches at bay. If you are desk-bound, take a look at my top tips.

Working environments

However, most of the physical and health problems associated with on screen reading often come from expecting too much from yourself – we are not infallible and sometimes adjusting our own practice and working environments can make a huge difference. Take a look at the display screen use guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive, or if you are in a medium-large organisation (including colleges and universities), you will have an on-site health and safety officer who will help you assess your current working environment and suggest improvements.

The right device for reading

If you have to read a lot of long documents, then a desktop computer is not ideal. You are positioned in an odd way, reading off a vertical screen. You should look at other devices which are more suited to extended reading, for example tablets (Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab, iPad) or e-ink readers (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader). Some research also suggests that using your desktop computer for different activities (e.g. reading and inputting) can increase your ‘cognitive load’ and it may be better to use one device for reading and another for reporting back/inputting so that you are not trying to multi-task too much on your computer screen.

Check our device guide for the pros and cons of different device types.

Getting at your Kindle Notes (and Highlights)

Amazon Kindle LogoI have been looking through some of the feedback we have received from the site there are a few messages indicating that they were unable to find a solution to their particular problem. Well as promised where we haven’t covered a particular topic we will look into finding a solution for you and post it here. So if you do leave us some feedback in the form, please check back, if it’s in the remit of the site we will try our hardest to write something.

In this instance we will look at exporting notes (annotations) from the Kindle application so that you can make use of them elsewhere.

The way that the Kindle app on mobile devices works regarding Highlights and Notes is a little convoluted. To access your Notes so that you can transfer them to another application you will need to go online to the Kindle website.

Screenshot of the amazon kindle highlights page
Screenshot of the Amazon Kindle ‘Your Highlights’ page
  1. As you read through a book in the Kindle app you highlight passages and make notes. These get uploaded to your online profile with Amazon at the point that you exit the book in your Kindle application.
  2. Go to http://kindle.amazon.com and log in.
  3. Click on the ‘Your Highlights’ link in the main menu. Here you will see all your highlights and notes
  4. From here you could simply copy and past into another document such as Word or if you are using Evernote (or similar service), you could select and clip the text you want straight to Evernote.

I’ve also looked at the Kindle desktop application on windows (I assume that the same would apply to a Mac) and the process is identical. You mark-up the text as you require and on leaving the book in the application those are uploaded to the cloud where you can access them via the http://kindle.amazon.com website (see steps 3 and 4 above). You can’t access this process through the main Amazon website, you have to go to the dedicated Kindle site.

Useful e-Learning Resource (Recommended)

internet-web-browser-2As online resources go for e-Learning, they don’t come more comprehensive than this one. Paul Andrews is an e-Learning manager in the education sector and has developed an award winning website and online resource which you will find useful and goes way beyond the remit of this site.

I recommend that you take a look as I’m sure that you will find a lot of information that will be of interest to you.

Link

Paul’s E-Learning Resourceswww.paulselearning.com

The Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6

Apple iOS logoFor those of you who are not as familiar Apples iPad/iPhone operating system and user interface here is a free iBook ‘The Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6’ by Jac de Haan.

The Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6

Although it is aimed at students it will be of interest to all whether new to the Mac iOS or an existing user. Even users of other platforms such as Googles Android will find useful ideas which they can apply to their own devises.

Just the text, Please!

plugin iconAs a dyslexic I regularly find that the rich media content of sites (primarily the advertisements) can become so visually over stimulated that I can’t keep a focus on the content I actually want to read, and I can imagine that you don’t need to be dyslexic to find them a distraction.

Well help is at hand in the form of a number of extensions and plug-ins for browsers which present the text on the page in a more visually neutral format. There are also a few plug-ins which read the content to you which have been included.

Check out the list bellow and hopefully you will find one to suit your reading style. If you also recommend any they we have missed off of the list please let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

 

Browser & Extension

Overview

   
Google Chrome  
Text Mode De-clutter the web by activating Text Mode. All pages load in text form (no images, animation or video) so content is easier to scan and read
Text Only, Please! Open any link in text-only mode, clearing the page of ads and other clutter
Clearly (recommended) With one click, Clearly makes blog posts and articles clean and easy to read. Clearly eliminates all distractions from your online reading experience, and even allows you to browse multi-page articles in one, seamless view.
Read Mode Puts Google Chrome into read mode for a pleasant reading experience.
SpeakIt! SpeakIt reads selected text using Text-to-Speech technology with language auto-detection. It can read text in more than 50 languages.
   
Firefox  
Clearly (recommended) With one click, Clearly makes blog posts and articles clean and easy to read. Clearly eliminates all distractions from your online reading experience, and even allows you to browse multi-page articles in one, seamless view.
Tranquility Tranquility removes unnecessary elements in a webpage, and provides a simple and tranquil reading experience.
Readable Readable transforms text on any website using fonts, colours, and layouts of your choosing.
Easy Read Easy Read blends links, making it easier to focus on and remember the great content while still having the option of following links if and when you want to
Blank Your Monitor + Easy Reading BYM: Changes colour combinations & ER provides a simple mechanism to isolate and highlight the text for easy reading.
Text to Voice TTS gives Firefox the power of speech. Select text, click the button on the bottom right of Firefox window and this add-on speaks the selected text for you. Audio is downloadable.
   

 

Matt’s top tips for desk days

OK, so we all do it… those days where you spend the entire day sat at your desk staring at that rectangular glare that seems to get brighter and more intense as the hours tick on.

We’ve already advised you to take screen breaks. It might sound obvious, but this means actually moving away from the screen and not looking at anything with an electrical plug attached to it for at least five minutes every hour. When you work at a computer, your eyes are fixed in one position for extended periods of time. Think about the last time you blinked whilst reading this! It’s amazing our eye balls don’t look like the parched sands of the Sahara. Dried out and tired eyes lead to headaches, and so does dehydration.

In addition to screen breaks, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids whilst at work. Drinking plenty seems to me to be the simplest preventative measure against screen fatigue. I regret the days when I’ve forgotten to bring in my bottles of water, as come 2pm, I get sluggish and that headache brews – unlike the cup of tea I should have made myself earlier.

Finally, ensure that you’re working in a suitably lit environment. Don’t have the glare of the sun directly behind your monitor as you’re exposing your eyes to too many sources of light (different intensities and colours of light). Use blinds to block direct sunlight, use table lamps to illuminate your workspace, and learn how to set the brightness of your monitor to suit both the environment you work in and to make it comfortable on your eyes.

Matt