Many people do not read easily. This might be because of:
- an impairment or disability
- poor access to literacy
- because English is not their first language
- stressful or distracting circumstances
- an unfamiliar topic.
That’s a lot of varied reasons.
Perhaps surprisingly, the things we need to do as designers to help are much less varied. Even expert readers prefer to read familiar words, short sentences, and text that is to the point. For an expert reader, easier text is simply quicker. For someone who has difficulty with reading, easier text may be the difference between successful reading or giving up and failing at their task.
“More alike than we think” is the core of the Design to Read project
Whitney Quesenbery and I became convinced that we could design one website that could work well for people who read differently when we were working for the Open University: article: More Alike Than We Think (March, 2006)
We had workshops in 2008 and 2010
This work led on to a project “Design to Read”. We started with two workshops.
Our 2008 workshop was part of the British HCI group conference “HCI2008 Culture, Creativity, Interaction – September 1-5, 2008” Liverpool conference, facilitated by Kate Grant, William Wong, Neesha Kodagoda, and me.
Some of us went on to write more about it. The project ran until about 2012. We decided to move the project archives to this site a few years later.
We created guidelines for designing for people who don’t read easily
- Design to read: guidelines for people who do not read easily (July, 2010)
- Framework: a Design to Read framework – audiences and advice (Sept, 2008)
We contributed a chapter to a book
Ginny Redish, Kathryn Summers and I went on to write a chapter that has the same guidelines, with more discussion of reading behaviours and with more references. If you want to follow up for an academic project, we recommend getting the book – especially because it has many other interesting chapters.
- Jarrett, C., Summers, K., and Redish, J. C. (2013) “Design to read: Designing for people who do not read easily” in Rhetorical Accessibility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies, edited by Lisa Meloncon, Baywood Publishing Company Inc.
“Design to read” means “design for everyone”
- Government services are for people, not for the government (October, 2016)
- Discussion: design for everyone at the Service Design in Government Conference (May, 2014)
Design for people with learning disabilities
Do usability testing with people who have disabilities
- We need to include people with disabilities in our designs (January 2005)
Use plain language
- We’ll never get this past legal (July, 2003)