According to Dyslexia International, at least 1 in 10 people are affected by dyslexia, i.e. more than 700 million children and adults worldwide.
Dyslexia has three major forms: reading, writing, and spelling. This project decided to tackle reading as it seemed like the most feasible intervention through technology.
Children rely on special educators.
Adults use web-based accessibility tools.
How might we help individuals with dyslexia read books and other textual information better at home and on the go?
Augmenta11y is a culmination of a two year long iterative design process. Here is a recent demo video that highlights the problem being solved and how the app solves it.
- We observed a 21% improvement in reading times while children use Augmenta11y.
- I developed a cross-platform app that works on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
- Augmenta11y has over 2,000+ downloads worldwide and has been featured on many news publications such as The History Channel, Times of India, and more.
Through an extensive literature review and stakeholder interviews, we narrowed down the factors affecting readability for a person with dyslexia to elements such as: special fonts, increased letter spacings, line heights, and contrasting background colors.
Children will benefit the most from this.
There are two main audiences for this solution. The primary audience is children aged 8-14 who are currently struggling to read, and might be in a tutoring program. The secondary audience is adults with dyslexia who could use this as the occasional utility.
There is no universal solution to improving readability.
Everyone has different preferences for what helps them read better. The app should provide options during the onboarding to let users pick their ideal colors, fonts, and spacings.
Lack of dyslexia-specific solutions currently.
Most apps used by people with dyslexia as of then were not designed for them specifically. This leads to a lack of personalization and a feeling of compromise when being used.
Animations, animations, and more animations.
Since we identified children to be the primary audience, the use of animations and micro-interactions become more important than ever. Children have short attention spans, and a lot of children with dyslexia are also diagnosed with ADHD, meaning that keeping them on task would be a challenge.
Personalization is king.
Since there is no universal setting for better readability, the app needs to allow users to change their typography preferences quickly and often. This is why there is a personalization section in the onboarding, and it exists on the bottom navigation through out the app's lifecycle.
The app has gone through 3 iterations of design and development cycles, with the most recent one being the biggest update to its visual design and suite of features. The images below show the progress and design maturity that the app has gotten over the years.
Testing and Evaluation#
The app has undergone 2 rounds of usability testing. For the first round in 2019, we tied up with Disha Counselling Center in Mumbai, India. The test subjects were a group of 39 students aged 8–14 years. The students were provided with two passages appropriate for each age group. The task given was to read one paragraph normally, and the other using the app. To ensure one paragraph was not inherently easier to read than the other, we alternated between the paragraph read using the app. The time taken by the students to read each passage, and their text styling preference recorded.
In December 2020, we partnered up with the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana as I made Augmenta11y a formal research project at Georgia Tech. I conducted 10 1-hour usability sessions on the new version of the app and am currently in the process of analyzing the test data and writing a full-journal paper on this research.
An animated and personalized onboarding.
Snap, pinch, zoom, and crop.
Reading word by word while keeping track of progress.
We saw a 21.2% reduction in the amount of time taken to read text using Augmenta11y. It was also observed that 85.7% of the students found the OpenDyslexic font helpful and 76.9% of them preferred to have a yellow background to the text.
We also presented a poster at India HCI 2018 – an ACM SIGCHI conference and will be publishing this research as a paper at the 9th International Conference on Computer Communication and Informatics (ICCCI 2019) in the HCI track.
- October 2018: First beta/proof of concept of Augmenta11y is launched!
- March 2019: After six months in the beta – Augmenta11y launched worldwide officially!
- May 2019: Augmenta11y starts getting featured in the press & media – The History Channel, Times of India, YourStory et cetera.
- December 2019: Augmenta11y crosses 2,000+ downloads on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store!
- October 2020: Augmenta11y got a brand new re-design from the ground up with many new features and is in beta.
- January 2021: I'm working hard on getting the new version of the app out of beta while publishing a new research paper on it.