What is Special About Dayglo Books
– original titles tailored for dyslexic readers –
- Dayglo Books are all original titles; they are not simply reprints of classic novels. They include fiction and non-fiction, suitable for adults, teenagers and children. Anyone can read these books, but dyslexic readers in particular will find them easy to use.
- A new font called 'Opendyslexic' is used throughout. This was developed by Abelardo Gonzales in 2013 to address some of the specific problems experienced by dyslexic readers. Some people with dyslexia see letters moving about, or see them in 3-D. In order to 'anchor' the letters down to the line, this font emphasizes the bottom part of each letter by using a heavier line thickness at the bottom than the top.
- People with dyslexia tend to mix up the letters b and d. This font uses a detached, upright stem on the letter d but a curved, continuous stem on the letter b, so the letters are not a mirror image of each other.
- People with dyslexic also tend to confuse the letters p and q. This font puts a little tail onto the stem of the letter q to make it easy to distinguish from the letter p, and puts a slight slant onto the stem of the letter p.
- The stem of the letter h is extra tall, and the stem of the letter n extra short, to emphasize the difference between the two.
- Letter c gapes open wide so that it is not likely to be confused with letter o.
- Lower case L is written with a slight ‘foot’, similar to the upper case letter, to distinguish it from capital letter I and figure 1.
- Capital letters and punctuation marks are slightly thickened, to make it easier for the reader to identify the beginning and end of a sentence.
As well as the specialised font, there are other adaptations to the text to make it easier to read, as follows:
- White paper has been avoided. Pastel cream paper is used instead. The traditional use of black print on white paper produces an unacceptably high level of contrast for some dyslexic readers. This can cause a dazzle effect that makes the print appear to shimmer, making it difficult to identify the letters with certainty.
- A large size type is used to ensure clarity. This can also be helpful to people with visual impairments.
- The books are short – no more than 100 pages long. The reader can approach a slim book with some confidence of getting to the end.
- Short chapters, short paragraphs and short sentences foster a rewarding reading experience and reinforce motivation. Sentences are not usually longer than 14 words.
- Text editing always keeps the reader in mind. The aim is to provide a smooth, uninterrupted reading experience. For example, the basic ‘…ed’ past tense is normally used in preference to ‘…ing’ endings which require an auxiliary verb, to avoid giving another word to read. In a book of 100 pages, this can save a dyslexic person having to read a great many superfluous words.
- Many sentences contain a basic point and an explanation of, or comment upon, that basic point. Some authors like to begin sentences with the explanation rather than the basic point, for example: “Although we did our best, the visiting team beat us easily.” It helps dyslexic readers if they meet the main point early in a new sentence, rather than at the end, so we usually edit the text to reflect this, thus: “The visiting team beat us easily, although we did our best.”
- Vocabulary is not restricted to a particular reading age, but where there is a choice of word without loss of meaning, a word that is simpler to read will be used. For example, in one book ‘arena’ has been used rather than ‘amphitheatre’ because it was felt that two diphthongs in a word could cause a reader to pause and break the flow. In this instance, the word ‘amphitheatre’ had been used only once in the whole book. If the title had been “The Amphitheatre” and the word had appeared many times in the text, it would have been left, on the assumption that with repetition it would have become familiar and less disruptive to the reading process.
- Long, unfamiliar and particularly foreign names can be problematical for anybody. In a book like “Dr Zhivago”, many fluent readers mentally abbreviate to avoid pausing over difficult names. For example, faced with a name such as “Sventytski” a fluent reader may read the first syllable, “Sven”, and ignore the rest of the word. Dyslexic people may not realise that fluent readers ‘cheat’ in this way. A fluent reader’s priority is to keep the forward momentum of reading and the enjoyment of the story. There are not a lot of complicated names used in our books.
- We have given a lot of thought to layout. There is plenty of space between paragraphs which helps to give shape and distinction to each page. Also, it is helpful to the reader to be able to see clearly the amount of reading required to complete each paragraph.
- The right-hand margin is ragged, not aligned. When the margin is aligned it is all too easy for a dyslexic reader to lose their place because of the similarity of each line. In order to achieve an aligned margin the printer inserts many hyphens and the last word on a line is arbitrary.
- Single letter words, such as ‘a’ or capital letter ‘I’, are deliberately not left as the last word on a line. An isolated single letter gives too few clues to a dyslexic reader about what may follow. This can cause them to lose their place and re-read the same line instead of moving forward.
- We hardly use hyphens at all. Occasionally words are hyphenated but only when the split word comprise two whole words, e.g. any-way.
- In some books, where appropriate, at the back a list of words less likely to be familiar to the reader is included, with a brief note of the meanings. Also, in some books with a large cast of characters, a list of the names of the characters and their relationships to each other is given.
- our aim is to remove as many obstacles to reading as possible. Fluent readers may not pay much attention to the adaptations we have made but dyslexic readers will find them invaluable. We want Dayglo Books to be truly inclusive of all readers.