Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that most often has the greatest impact on reading. The International Dyslexia Foundation® estimates that as many as 15-20% of the school-age population in the United States have some symptom(s) of Dyslexia. Of course not all of those people require accommodations, but many do.
Though research is scientifically inconclusive regarding whether or not color or fonts make it easier for people with Dyslexia to read text, users say that it does in fact help. The creator of the Open Dyslexic font, Abelardo Gonzalez, has Dyslexia himself. Gonzalez mentioned in an interview that he had originally created the font incorporating different aspects of fonts that are proven to help, including the weighted bottom of the letters and letter spacing. The Open Dyslexic font was added after a teenage student told Aaron Sherman, the creator of Storyboard That, how much the font made a difference in his ability to read independently. Check out the example to see the difference between Times New Roman and Open Dyslexic.
In addition to the Dyslexia font options, users have the ability to change the color of the background and fonts; the backgrounds can be in color, gray scale, or sepia. The user also has the option to change the color of the font to help with color contrast against the chosen background. Many people with Dyslexia have difficulty with contrast. These options allow the user to personalize their storyboard based on what works best for them, especially since not every person with Dyslexia has the same background or font contrast preferences.
As with anything, there are many different techniques used when teaching students with Dyslexia. A common, highly reputable method is the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach to reading. Multi-sensory instruction is wonderful and has had great success. It is frequently conducted in a small setting with a teacher specifically trained in it, but how do the students’ regular classroom teachers implement that approach through all subjects?
Storyboard That is a natural approach to the visual aspect of multi-sensory learning, especially for students with learning disabilities. Students with Dyslexia typically struggle with pencil and paper assignments, while incorporating a storyboard allows the students to use a visual approach to an assignment instead. The sample assignment mentioned in the storyboard is a book report. By composing a visual piece of work, it allows the student to focus on the representation of their comprehension of the book - rather than struggling with their written expression. Here is an example of the type of work the students could create as an alternative to a written report.
Students aren’t the only ones who can use Storyboard That. As a teacher, you can use it to tailor your lesson to specific students. Many students with Dyslexia will have accommodations on their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans. One of the more common accommodations is the use of a graphic organizer. Storyboard That is printer friendly, which makes it a great way for an educator to create personalized graphic organizers. The vast array of scenes and characters allow the storyboards to be tailored to numerous subjects and topics within those subjects. This is an example of a character map that can be printed out and given to students to help them follow along while reading the story.
Storyboarding is Dyslexia friendly - a great and fun addition to any classroom where there are students with Dyslexia. It allows all the students to create work that represents their strengths while also being inclusive of all the students. The students’ knowledge of the material does not have to be lost on the difficulty of reading or writing when Storyboard That is incorporated. For additional ways to increase accessibility for students using Storyboard That, check out our article on Chrome Extensions for Accessibility!