Books Reading

Bionic Reading: read faster!

bionic reading

With the advent and diffusion oincreasingly sophisticated information technologies, devices and software irecent years, research odyslexia and the most effective treatment strategies has begun tinclude increasingly innovative systems and methods tfacilitate speed and accuracy oreading: one othe most recent and fascinating ithe “Bionic Reading”. Did you read this paragraph faster? Your eyes have done 50% or less of their job, and your subconscious did the rest!

What is Bionic Reading

Bionic Reading is a particular text display system created by the Swiss typographic designer Renato Casutt, which consists in highlighting (using bold) the first letters that make up each word. An example of Bionic Reading is shown in the image below, released by the development team to demonstrate how this innovative system works.

As illustrated on the instrument’s official website, Bionic Reading would facilitate reading in the presence of “artificial” fixation points that guide the reader’s eye.

What happens when a reader (dyslexic or not) is faced with a text is a complex process of decoding the symbols that make up each word, associating the single word with its possible meaning and interpreting the general meaning of the sentence.

Obviously, in the case of people with dyslexia, this process is even more complex and full of obstacles, which can be reduced and minimized thanks to some precautions concerning the graphic style of the text. For example, there are specific fonts created for dyslexic people or guidelines and “good practices” on which fonts and styles it is best to use: sans serifs (e.g. Helvetica, Arial, Calibri) are preferable to serifs (e.g., Times New Roman, Baskerville), the distance between the individual letters that make up a sentence must be sufficient (therefore, fonts that provide for a horizontal “compression” of the characters are to be avoided), and so on.

Bionic reading would therefore make it possible to “get around” some of the obstacles that people with dyslexia or problems related to visuospatial attention find themselves having to face while reading, such as, for example, the difficulty in keeping the mark of the sentence on the staff or the feeling of “crowding” of the letters on the page.

How (and how much) Bionic Reading Works

By prompting the reader to focus on artificial fixation points focused at the beginning of the word, bionic reading provides a kind of “navigator” for the reader, guiding him from one point to another throughout the text.

The choice to highlight only the beginning of the word is not accidental: in many cases, in fact, the human brain “auto-completes” the words it reads, automatically comparing them with the mental representations that that specific combination of letters has in its vocabulary and starting to create an association of meaning even before you have finished reading.

The first studies conducted on people with dyslexia have shown how, in many cases, Bionic Reading makes understanding a text more accessible and more effective after just one reading. Furthermore, the news of this new system spread quickly and immediately raised the attention of many dyslexic people, who tried to use Bionic Reading in their daily lives and claimed (online and on social media) that they experienced the same benefits.

Furthermore, the advantages of Bionic Reading do not only involve those who show reading difficulties but also people who want to improve their speed or understanding of texts, absorbing as many concepts in the shortest possible time (for example, to be more productive and efficient at work or in study).

However, scientific data on the effectiveness of this reading system still need to be discovered, and it is necessary to conduct further experimental studies before crying out for a miracle. In the meantime, it is still possible to get a firsthand idea of ​​how (and how much) Bionic Reading works, thanks to the free tool made available by the development team, which allows you to transform any text, document or web page into a text “ bionic”.

Not just Bionic Reading

As previously mentioned, Bionic Reading is not the only facilitated reading system that uses technological tools to create and convert text.

In 2010, Easy Reading Font was born in Turin, a typeface created as a compensatory tool for readers with dyslexia. It is a highly legible font comprising 811 glyphs, including letters, numbers, accents, symbols, and punctuation, and characterized. In addition to the essential stroke, ample spacing between letters, between words and between lines of text counteracts the “crowding” effect and helps the reader keep their mark on the line and within the page.

Furthermore, it is a hybrid font, in which some glyphs are drawn as serifs (i.e. with so-called “thanks”) while others are sans-serif (“without thanks”). In this way, the font distinguishes letters that are similar in shape (e.g. ‘d’, ‘p’, ‘q’ and ‘b’) more clearly, since a different graphic style is adopted for each letter.


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