In the US, about 30 million adults struggle with basic literacy. The inability to read proficiently has wide-ranging economic consequences, affecting a person’s ability to get and hold onto a job, as well as increasing the likelihood one would rely on government assistance.
But one tech company believes something as simple as increasing the size of spacing between certain words could improve people’s reading comprehension. Research going back decades has found that “chunking,” a technique that separates text into meaningful units, provides visual cues that help readers better process information.
Grounded in this thinking, San Francisco-based Asymmetrica Labs has created a tool that uses an algorithm to logically insert spaces to websites’ text. A free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, Asym automatically reformats English text without affecting a site’s overall design.
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“Some struggling readers, or low-literacy readers, will read one word at a time,” Nicholas tells Quartz. “We’re nudging eye-movement patterns that good readers on their own have done naturally.” He says the technology could also benefit strong readers when they’re tired or under stress and could also improve their reading speeds.
Link to the rest at Quartz and thanks to Barb for the tip.
Here’s a link to the Asym site.