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Ever wondered what it’s like to have dyslexia? This web application will give you an idea

Dyslexia is a reading disorder that shows up in as many as 3 million cases per year in the US alone. But despite everything we know about dyslexia, it is hard to understand what it’s really like unless you can experience the effects yourself. With a new web application, it’s possible to experience just a taste of what it’s like to be dyslexic thanks to text that literally jumps around the page.

Children who experience dyslexia often show clinically normal vision and intelligence levels, but a dyslexic’s trouble with words, speaking, and reading can manifest in many different ways. Sometimes children describe the letters bouncing around the page, or mixing in strange orders.

Sample web application dyslexia simulation

A Swedish developer named Victor Widell created the web app to simulate the particular effects his friend described to him as a result of her own dyslexia: “A friend who has dyslexia described to me how she experiences reading. She can read, but it takes a lot of concentration, and the letters seems to ‘jump around.’” The Javascript application shows a text description of dyslexia and a brief introduction from Widell himself, but it takes a considerable amount of attention to figure out the words as letters continuously rearrange themselves in front of your eyes.

Since dyslexia is something of an umbrella term for many specific kinds of word and language disabilities, Widell’s web app won’t simulate all the different effects that dyslexics experience. Even so, the web app makes a big difference in a world where empathy draws us together more than perhaps any other quality. We rely on the Internet these days, but not everyone experiences it the same way. Widell’s code is also fully open source, so maybe some other developers who have been exposed to dyslexia will create new versions of the app.