Readability Guide for Schools

Category: Education

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A short presentation on ensuring school texts are accessible to students with dyslexia etc. For more:


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© Matt Grant, 2012

>> 1. Layout:

>> 1. Layout A complicated, stylish design might make the (1) Make sure readers can find their way around a text easily. Number the paragraphs or sections to help with navigation. (2) Avoid squeezing too much text onto one page. Use two pages if you have to. Use 1.25 – 1.5 for line spacing. with reading difficulties . text more appealing initially but on closer inspection, can confuse those (3) Keep columns well spaced to avoid readers going across rather than down. Lines between columns can help. (4) Headers Use headers to introduce new subtopics and demarcate different parts of a text.

>> 2. Fonts:

>> 2. Fonts

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“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” - Abraham Lincoln

>> 3. Images:

>> 3. Images Use images that reinforce the messages in the text, to give poor readers clues. Be careful not to crowd the text with images. Too many images will distract from the text. Sometimes a diagram can be used as a back-up or a complete replacement for the text.

>> 4. Colour:

>> 4. Colour Using a pastel coloured background, where possible, is much easier on the eyes. Too much contrast in the foreground and you will suffer from eye strain because of the harshness and glare. Too much black text on a white background is said to cause this. Reading this kind of text for sustained periods will gradually damage your eyesight.

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“To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.” - Andre Gide

>> 5. Language:

>> 5. Language Vocabulary is a term for familiarity with and understanding of words. Sometimes new vocabulary needs pre-teaching before use within the context of a text. Deliberate repetition of key vocabulary can be useful. Students typically begin to grasp new vocabulary after the third time of experiencing it. Try to keep sentences simple - one key point per sentence is recommended for KS3 and KS4 students.

>> 6. Tools:

>> 6. Tools Use a ruler to track lines and keep place. Use coloured overlays if you rely on black and white texts which cannot be adapted. Use a highlighter pen to identify tricky words.

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“There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.” - Jacqueline Kennedy

>> 7. Group Reading:

>> 7. Group Reading Group reading can be a daunting activity for many students, regardless of their reading skills. To make this easier for them (and for you), establish the following as a routine with every text . Number the paragraphs or parts of the text. This will help everyone in keeping track . Ask for volunteers amongst the group (at first this might be very few, but it will grow with time.) Give each volunteer a number. The sizes of each part will likely vary – providing a good opportunity to differentiate. Give students a few minutes to read and rehearse their part. Ask them to underline any tricky words – go round and clarify them. Begin reading as a group – praise every effort!

>> Going further  SMOG check:

>> Going further  SMOG check The SMOG Readability Formula estimates the years of education a person needs to understand a piece of writing. This is known as a SMOG grade - which can then also point to an Age Equivalent Estimate. Calculating the SMOG Grade: Step 1: Take the entire text to be assessed. Step 2: Count 10 sentences. Step 3: Count every word with three or more syllables. Step 4: Calculate the square root of the number arrived at in Step 3 and round off to nearest 10. Step 5: Add 3 to the figure arrived at in Step 4 to know the SMOG Grade, i.e., the years of education that a person must have reached if he is to understand fully the text assessed. Step 6: To get an Age Equivalent Estimate, add 5 (the number of years before someone enters education) to the SMOG Grade.

>> Additional information::

>> Additional information: This website allows you to paste text in and grade it using the SMOG index:  This website will also check the reading level of any website you type in: 

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“If you can read this quote, pause for a moment and think of those who can’t, then thank your teachers.” - Anonymous

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