Javascript vs. Dyslexia

by in Development

I'm an enormous fan of education— I can't think of anything more important to the human species than our capability to discover and pass on knowledge.  Additionally, I'm an enormous fan of educators.  Not only have I been blessed with many good teachers, but I know many good teachers and they are all passionate about what they do and continue to advance their capabilities. My brother Sam, one of these teachers, works with kids with behavior and learning disabilities and he recently forwarded me an article concerning dyslexia.

The article was published in the journal Nature, and was a summary of the results of a study where a group of adults with dyslexia increased their reading speed by 25% over two months.  People affected by the learning disability are often told to take their time when reading and slow down.  The study took an opposing view and hypothesized that reading might actually improve if they were encouraged to speed up.  To do this, they used a computer program that would erase letters in a sentence as the reader read.  After the sentence was displayed, a question would be asked.  If the question was answered correctly, the program would speed up by an infinitesimal amount with the next sentence.

My brother asked me if it was something I could build for him to experiment with his students.  I spent a few hours doing some front end development and came up with a prototype.  It doesn't automate the question and answer process, but it does show the basic functionality of the erasing words followed by a question.  There is also enough there so that he can edit it and add whatever content he desires, as well as alter the speed at which the script starts erasing letters.

When we were kids, our Grandma Nina occasionally drove down to visit us on our parent's farm.  When we found out she was coming, our first question was, "Is she bringing, 'The Never Ending Story?'"  It's a kids movie from the 80's and I'm sure grandma made many trips to Albertsons to rent and re-rent the video; the clerks probably thought she was crazy.  In it, an evil force is destroying a fantasy land by erasing it.  The surviving denizens call it, "The Nothing," and it exists because no one is reading about their world anymore.  Hopefully, our "The Nothing" helps improve someone's ability to read by vaporizing letters.  Check it out: The Nothing

One postscript: The Nothing script is a prototype and has only been tested and works on: Opera, Chrome, and Firefox.  It may or may not work on IE8/9 and Safari.

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John is the owner and lead developer of Blue Bridge.  He's contributed to the Joomla project as a JCM author, JUG team leader, and a bug squasher.  In his spare time, he loves to write and read, advance his development and business knowledge, play video games, boulder, and spend time with his girlfriend and their dog Sunny.
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