How can digital technology help people with dyslexia?

This blog has been updated! Originally published 03/09/13. Amended 26/09/23

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that makes reading and writing more difficult. People with the condition are able to verbalise their thoughts but not necessarily get them down on paper, and their reading skills are often behind their peer group. They also might have issues with short-term memory and organisational skills. Dyslexia can only be diagnosed by a psychologist or specialist.

How many people in the UK have the condition?Keyboard

According to the British Dyslexia Association, 10% of the population of the UK has dyslexia. That’s about 6 million people. Out of this 6 million 4% have a severe form of dyslexia. 

Walt Disney had dyslexia and pop singer Mollie King also has the condition.

Find lots of free resources about dyslexia and technology from AbilityNet, including free webinars, factsheets and more.

How does dyslexia affect people?

One of the main issues that people who have dyslexia report is that they can come up with great ideas, but when it comes to getting those ideas down on paper, they can struggle. Spelling and grammar skills can be affected if you have the condition. Organising your work can also often be difficult and this can make writing essays or reports really difficult for some people.

Reading can also be challenging for some people who have dyslexia, as text can often appear to move around the screen.

View a Dyslexia Simulator in action (captions included) to demonstrate how difficult reading can be for someone who has dyslexia. Remember, everyone's experience is different - this is just an example of what some people can experience:

Tech Tools for Dyslexia at work, in education and at home

How can inclusive tech bridge the gap to help dyslexic people when learning, at home or in the workplace?

In this webinar recording, guest speakers from AbilityNet and the British Dyslexia Association will share tried-and-tested tools and solutions to benefit people who are dyslexic. 

Top tips for easier computing for people with dyslexia

As with a lot of disabilities dyslexia will affect different people in different ways, so there is not one specific computer application or adaptation that will definitely be useful in every case. However, there are a few tips that are worth trying:

  • Make the text bigger and change the colour of it.
  • Double-spacing text can also be useful.
  • Using a sans serif font like Arial or Comic Sans is really useful too.
  • Some people prefer to change the screen background.
  • Using the in-built voice recognition/dictation system can help.
  • Using in-built text-to-speech to read documents out loud can be very useful.

Technology can help you if you have dyslexia

  • There are lots of pieces of software that can make your life easier if you have dyslexia and need to use a computer.
  • Microsoft's Immersive Reader can support you in having text read out to you and Read Aloud is a free browser add-on that enables you to have text spoken out to you.
  • If you have difficulty with trying to put your ideas down in a logical way you might want to consider mind-mapping software. Good examples are Mindmup and MindMeister
  • If you need support with reading and writing, one of the most commonly used packages is called Texthelp's Read&Write:
  • Voice recognition can help you translate your ideas into written pieces of work.
  • If you use a phone or tablet there are a number of apps for dyslexia could help you, particularly in education settings.
Download a range of free factsheets which outline technology that might help you. Three that may be of particular interest to people with Dyslexia: Dyslexia and ComputingVoice Recognition and Dyslexia and Vision Impairment and Computing.

How can AbilityNet help?

There are a few ways that we can help:

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 048 7642.
  • My Computer My Way is a free online tool that shows you the accessibility options built into your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. 
  • Arrange a home visit. from one of our AbilityNet Tech Volunteers