Designing for Users with Dyslexia

CommunicateHealth
Alt: One doodle says to another, “Hey bro-bot what’s shakin’?” The second doodle says, “I’m making our site even MORE accessible!” A third doodle looks at the site and says, “Oh wow—this site really speaks to me!”

As you may have noticed, we’re all about accessibility here at We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters. But that’s not only because designing for people with disabilities is the right thing to do—it can also make health materials better for everyone. Win-win!

We’ve shared general web accessibility tips before. But one area that often gets overlooked when it comes to accessibility is designing for people with learning differences like dyslexia.

Up to 1 in 5 people worldwide have dyslexia, which causes problems with reading. That’s a lot of people who could potentially miss out on your content!

Try these tips to make your website more accessible for people with dyslexia:

  • Watch your fonts. Large sans serif fonts like Arial, Century Gothic, and Tahoma work best. Or try OpenDyslexic, a font designed specifically for people with dyslexia. (Some people with dyslexia find a much-maligned little font called Comic Sans easy to read—but let’s not go there.)
  • Consider color contrast. We’re all for high contrast as a general rule, but black text on a white background can be difficult to read for people with dyslexia. Dark gray text on an off-white or light gray background is a solid compromise.
  • Let users customize your site. Provide a few options so users can select the font, text size, text color, and background color that work best for them.
  • Say it with visuals. Reinforce written content with icons, photos, and videos. That’s a good idea anyway, but it can really help people with dyslexia work around troublesome text.
  • Make search easier. Incorporate suggested search terms so users don’t have to remember or spell a specific term perfectly to find what they’re looking for.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Nobody will thank you for huge walls of tiny text—least of all users with dyslexia. So stick to 55-ish characters per line and aim for short sentences.

The bottom line: A few simple design changes can make your website more accessible for users with dyslexia.

Tweet about it: Want to make your website accessible for users with dyslexia? Try these tips from @CommunicateHlth: https://bit.ly/2pDZkap

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