Dyslexia tools, software, and free resources

Dyslexia is a neurological difference that can impact a person's education, workplace, and everyday life. It affects approximately 10% of the UK population according to the British Dyslexia Association.

During our recent webinar, Dafydd Henke-Reed shared his insights into top resources and tools, and how technology revolutionised his own experience of dyslexia. 

The following resources aren't exclusive to people with dyslexia, they're also helpful for anyone wanting to make their content more accessible, broaden their knowledge on accessibility, or learn more about tools that could be beneficial for colleagues, friends, or family.

How to create accessible written content

Dafydd discusses, "I would avoid excessive amount of text decoration and variability in styling. Headings should be larger and bolder than plain text, for example. As well, buttons and links should be clearly visually communicated.

However, outside of this core styling, I would avoid having different fonts used for plain text, different amounts of line or letter spacing. As well, my personal preference is to avoid italics and underlining for emphasis, and instead preferring to use bold text."

The British Dyslexia Association has a Style Guide, along with Mailchimp's Accessibility Style Guide, which details the different fonts, colours, and formatting to ensure written content is accessible.

Specifically for web content, WAI has a useful Writing for Web Accessibility article along with Big Hack's Writing Better Website Content article that shares details on the use of headings, link text, creating transcripts, and other web elements.

Assistive software

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech software can help people who have difficulty communicating, reading, or writing. Dafydd shares his favourite tools, "If you have an iPhone or iPad, I would definitely use the in-built speech option, iOS Speech.

"If using Office 365 (e.g. Word), I would absolutely investigate the tools identified in Listen to your Word documents, with Immersive Reader being a potentially very appropriate tool. Immersive Reader goes above and beyond core text-to-speech and allows you to adjust colours, change line height, and so on."

Further assistive software includes:

Book Now: How to use assistive technology at work, in education and at home

Personalising assistive tech for different requirements

"Almost all text-to-speech tools have options to choose different voices. I have found that those new to the software prefer slower and more natural voices.

"In turn, when folks get comfortable with the tool, they often want to increase the speed.  When new to the software, I would encourage folks to get comfortable with a natural sounding voice at a moderate to slow speed.

"I do also set a preference (on my system or browser) to reduce motion. This is all about reducing the physical effort needed to read content.

"For more information, see CSS Tricks - A Complete Guide to Dark Mode in the Web and Apple - Supporting Dark Mode in Your Interface, and MDN - Prefers Reduced Motion. I can otherwise struggle with garish colours. A challenge here is that you may want colours that contrast very strongly. This can particularly benefit low vision users."

"However, these users can also benefit from supporting system-level options, such as high contrast mode. For more information, see Microsoft - Styling for Windows high contrast with new standards for forced colours."

Factsheet: Dyslexia and Technology

Watch the full webinar recording

Other useful resources