An experimental eye-tracking study of text adaptation for readers with dyslexia: Effects of visual support and word frequency

Miriam Rivero-Contreras, Paul E. Engelhardt, David Saldaña

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Easy-to-read guidelines recommend visual support and lexical simplification to facilitate text processing, but few empirical studies confirm a positive effect from these recommendations in individuals with dyslexia. This study examined the influence of the visual support and lexical simplification on sentence processing through eye movements at both the text- and word-level, and the differences between readers with and without dyslexia. Furthermore, we explored the influence of reading experience and vocabulary, as control variables. We tested 20 young adults with dyslexia and 20 chronological age-matched controls. Participants read 60 sentences in total. Half the sentences contained an image and the other half did not, and half contained a low-frequency word and half a high-frequency word. Results showed that visual support and lexical simplification facilitated sentence processing, potentially by jointly facilitating lexical semantic access. We also found that participants with lower print exposure and lower vocabulary benefited more from word-level lexical simplification. We conclude that both adaptations could benefit readers with low print exposure and smaller vocabularies, and therefore, to many dyslexic readers who show these characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170–187
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of Dyslexia
Early online date13 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • dyslexia
  • eye movements
  • visual support
  • lexical simplification
  • sentence processing

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