Rodriguez-Goncalves, R., Garcia-Crespo, A., Ruiz-Arroyo, A., & Matheus-Chacin, C. (2021). Development and feasibility analysis of an assistance system for high school students with dyslexia . Research in Developmental Disabilities , 111 (103892).

Journal Article

Rodriguez-Goncalves, R., Garcia-Crespo, A., Ruiz-Arroyo, A., & Matheus-Chacin, C. (2021). Development and feasibility analysis of an assistance system for high school students with dyslexia. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 111(103892).


Color contrast device or software; Cueing; High school; International (non-U.S.); Layout/organization of test items; Learning disabilities; Magnification device or software; Multiple accommodations; Multiple ages; No disability; Oral delivery; Postsecondary; Student survey; Text-to-speech device/software




"OpenDyslexic typography," enlarged font size, color filters, and oral delivery via text-to-speech—all incorporated into a software application—were studied. The typography increased the typical space between letters. Font size varied and was adjustable by test-takers. Color filters were provided on black text, with test takers enabled to select the color and opacity/clarity. The text-to-speech software read and highlighted each word as it was read, with test takers enabled to adjust the speed of the oral output.


The study sample of 27 students included 15 students with dyslexia (i.e., reading-related learning disabilities) and 12 students without dyslexia (and with no other disabilities). Of the 15 participants with dyslexia, 12 were enrolled in upper levels of high school (aged 16–18) and 2 were in their first year of postsecondary education, and 1 participant was not currently enrolled in education. Of the 12 students without dyslexia, 10 were high school students (age 16–18) and 2 were in their first year of postsecondary education. All participants were recruited in Madrid, Spain, and were Spanish-speakers. Demographic data such as age (16–20) and sex (male/female) were reported.

Dependent Variable

A reading test, addressing fluency and comprehension, was administered to participants on three occasions with both unaccommodated and accommodated item sets; the researchers drew test items from a reading assessment previously constructed and validated (Tapia & Luna, 2014). During the first test administration, observational data documenting eye-tracking patterns were collected for three students with dyslexia and three students without dyslexia. Reading speed was of concern due to these tests typically being time-limited. A student survey was administered on the participants' reading experience when using both the standard display and the specialized audiovisual presentation of sets of test items. The survey was composed of nine satisfaction rating items, using a 5-point scale, and three open-ended questions; it yielded qualitative data on student perceptions, preferences, and recommendations.


[Eye-tracking] In the first testing session with a subset of participants, eye-tracking information from the students with reading-related disabilities indicated that the accommodated text facilitated increased reading speed, both in decreasing instances of rereading phrases and when passing from line to line in the text. Using the typography support, in concert with text-to-speech presentation, students with dyslexia—especially the two with low fluency—moved through the text as much as two to three times more quickly than without the accommodative features. [Test item performance] Of the 15 participants with dyslexia, the software app resulted in benefits in reading fluency for 73% (n=11) and in reading comprehension for 67% (n=10), in comparison with the typical paper version of the test. Students without disabilities performed similarly in both accommodated and unaccommodated test conditions; the researchers concluded that the test items were not significantly different in difficulty level. [Perceptions] The survey data indicated that the 15 students with dyslexia had varying perceptions on, preferences for, and needs addressed by the separate features in the software app. The text-to-speech function was needed by or useful for 12 students; it was especially preferred by students with low reading fluency or who use text-to-speech regularly. Eight (8) participants with dyslexia indicated that colored filters were helpful or necessary, while the other seven (7) did not use colored filters. The variable font-size setting yielded a large variety of responses; in contrast, many expressed a preference for spacing between letters, indicating that it was helpful. The researchers discussed the implications of accommodation use in relation to self-esteem and emotional stress factors. Limitations were reported and future research possibilities were suggested.