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Web code hints at what it's like to read with dyslexia

A snippet of JavaScript reminds you that the condition is a constant struggle.

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Mapasa/Getty Images

People with dyslexia can tell you about their frustrations with reading, but it's hard to really understand their condition without witnessing it first-hand. Well, you now have a quick and easy way to empathize with their situation: a developer has posted a web-based approximation of dyslexic reading (based on a friend's description) that uses little more than JavaScript to generate the effect. Letters constantly jump around, forcing you to concentrate on each word to make sense of what you're reading -- you can't just skim over it like you would otherwise. The source code is readily available, so you can implement it yourself if you want to see how the effect applies on other websites or within apps.

How accurate is it? The truth is that it varies. Dyslexia is a catch-all term for a range of conditions that produce different effects. Some dyslexics see characters bounce around vertically, for instance, so this isn't going to be an authentic recreation for everyone. Also, problems processing visual information can stem from Irlen's Syndrome, which is closely linked to (but isn't created by) dyslexia. Nonetheless, at least some affected readers say that this is true to their experience. The site could provide an important lesson, whether or not it's completely faithful. It's a reminder that not everyone can take the text-rich internet era for granted, and it might encourage website creators to accommodate visitors who sometimes find reading a challenge.

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