Learners with dyslexia face unique challenges when it comes to online training. Working through large sections of continuous content or requiring rote memorization without hands-on practice would tax anyone. For those with dyslexia, it can completely close off your material.
Formatting and writing training that respects these challenges can be daunting at first. The great thing is that the following five tips and tricks can improve readability for all your learners. It’s a win-win!
1. Use Sans Serif Fonts
Sans serif fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Open Sans are less crowded and easier to read. They’re more rounded as well. Jagged or overly stylized fonts can be difficult for learners with dyslexia to navigate.
So while your artistic spirit might cry out for an entire course done in Abril Fat Face (like in the “harder to read” example above), a more considerate choice would be one that uses an easy-on-the-eyes sans serif font (like Open Sans in the “easier to read” example). Other good font choices include:
- Century Gothic
2. Go Easy on the Formatting
If you don’t have dyslexia, using underlined, italicized, small, or crowded text are stylistic choices. Maybe you want to emphasize something or make sure it fits in a certain area. However, crowding letters and adding flourishes makes it harder to discern the breaks between words, even if you don’t have dyslexia. Take a look at the example below.
When creating dyslexia-friendly e-learning, follow these do’s and don’ts:
|DO USE||DON'T USE|
|Bold text for emphasis||Italic or underlined text|
|At least a 12- to 14-point font||All caps or small caps|
|Left-justified text in a single column||Center-justified text in multiple columns|
And don’t be afraid of white space. While it’s true that too much white space between words and letters can affect readability, leaving room between paragraphs is important to help readers parse your content.
3. Use Headings
Headings help to establish a visual hierarchy, which makes your content more navigable. Whenever you have a large block of text, look to break it up with the occasional heading.
Use a larger, bold font within your text to create headings that follow these guidelines:
- 20% larger than the surrounding text
- Extra space before and after
- Follows a consistent structure
If you don’t feel like doing all that manual formatting on every screen of your Storyline course, use slide masters in Storyline 360, create a custom template in Storyline 360, or use a Content Library 360 template. If you're creating courses with Rise 360, just drop in one of the convenient, pre-formatted heading or subheading text blocks.
4. Pick the Right Color
Adding color can have a major impact on your content’s readability. Before you click that color wheel, check to make sure you’re not committing one of these readability faux pas:
- Pattern or image behind text
- Poor contrast between text and background
- Light-colored text on a dark background
When you do add color, try to use it sparingly or strictly for design elements. If you need to emphasize content, use bold instead. Oh, and while we’re talking color, try to avoid red, green, and pink out of consideration for color-blind readers.
5. Use Graphics
Using images, flow charts, graphs, and other illustrative elements can reinforce your content. Supportive images, multimedia, diagrams, and charts are all great ways to quickly add visual interest and provide more context for dyslexic learners.
In Rise 360, process blocks are a great example of pairing text and graphics to support learners.
Process blocks break down elements into easily digestible step-by-step chunks and they’re multimedia friendly so you can add images, video, or web content to help illustrate the step.
Bonus Writing Tips
Formatting your text the right way is critical to making your content as dyslexia-friendly as possible. But how you write your training is just as important as how it looks. Here are a few extra tips from the British Dyslexia Association’s 2018 Style Guide:
- Use active voice instead of passive.
- Be concise. Use short, simple sentences and avoid long paragraphs.
- Use bullet points and numbered lists.
- Avoid overly complex instructions, double negatives, and excessive abbreviations (always provide the expanded form first).
Another thing to consider when writing is that your learners might be using text-to-speech technology. Read your work out loud as you go to make sure it’s easy to follow (bonus, this is a great way to catch errors)!
Designing dyslexia-friendly training isn’t hard to do when you keep a few simple guidelines in mind:
- Use more rounded, sans serif fonts.
- Don’t crowd your text with too much formatting.
- Organize your content and make it easy to navigate with headings and subheadings.
- When you use color, make sure it doesn’t hamper readability.
- Don’t be afraid to add images, graphs, and other visual aids to support your content.
Did you find these tips helpful? If so, we have lots more to share. Here are a few more items add to your reading list:
- All About Accessibility
- Top Writing Tips for E-Learning
- How to Use Typography to Improve Your E-Learning e-book
Follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.