Designing for Dyslexia (Part 1)

There are fifty-two cards in a standard deck of cards, and we are tasked with putting them in order, whatever that might mean to us. We might choose to simply place the cards into two piles: blacks and reds, and leave it at that. Alternatively, we could separate these two piles into two further piles: hearts and diamonds for the red cards, and spades and clubs for the black cards. Adding another layer of complexity, it is possible to arrange each of these four piles into numerical order from ace to king. If this deck of cards were handed to a random person, the expectation is that the user would be able to find a particular card. If, for example, the person were tasked with finding the ace of spades, he or she would most likely flip through the cards, recognize the pattern, and extract the card with ease. This is an understandable expectation, but it relies on the assumption that the searcher’s cognition is the same as that of the card’s arranger. What might occur if the person were unable to recognize the pattern? What might occur if they were able to recognize the pattern, but it took additional time to find a particular card? Dyslexics worldwide face this very challenge. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity estimates that 20% of the population is dyslexic, yet designers are generally ill equipped to create designs that are accessible for dyslexic users. In this article, we’ll take a look at the study I created and what I learned about dyslexia. Then, in part two, we’ll review the five universal...