Is BeeLine Reader Helpful For People with Dyslexia?

The other day, I received an email from a computer programmer with dyslexia (who also talked about his view on the OpenDyslexic font in this post) letting me know about a browser plugin called BeeLine Reader. This plugin is supposed to help people to read faster. It is not specifically targeting people with dyslexia, but on the site it does state “Many people with ADD, dyslexia, and vision difficulties find BeeLine to be immensely helpful.”
So what does it look like and why is it supposed to make it easier to read text?
It’s not just that the text is in different colors, there is a color gradient. Based on this, the gradient should make you more likely to read every line without skipping a line or re-reading the same line.
You also have a choice of color scheme; if you don’t think the above scheme (called “Bright”) is helping you read faster, there are others available. You can try them on the site itself. Below are some screen shots (all from the BeeLine Reader website) of the various color schemes available on the site. This first one is regular text, so here BeeLine Reader is “off”


This next one is Bright (same scheme as the first picture).


This is Dark, which uses more brown instead of red.
beeline2This is Blues. I really like the colors here, but the Bright scheme is easier for me to read, personally.
beeline3And finally, Gray
beeline4The programmer with dyslexia (who wishes to remain anonymous), had this to say about the claim that the plugin will make you read faster without repeating or skipping lines:
“The claims seem true because it doesn’t let your eyes wander to different portions of text. Coloring the text in gradients really does guide your eyes. Sometimes, I end up accidentally re-reading the same line of text because I thought I went down to the next line but I just went back to the same line.”
When I asked why exactly he felt the plugin was helpful, he stated:

“I’m no expert, but the fading gradient seems to keep my eyes on track. The start of a sentence begins with a solid color that attracts the eye and then it slowly fades off and then fades back in again, making sure that each sentence does not have the same gradient as the one below it. The gradients are alternating. Along with reading in a straight line, you can follow patterns, so you see this gradient of color and your eyes are almost “pre-built” to follow the flow of the color. At least, that is why I think it works”

As for how the BeeLine Reader plugin compares to fonts like Dyslexie and OpenDyslexic (which, unlike BeeLine Reader, are specifically targeted to people with dyslexia)

“I don’t believe in dyslexic fonts. Regular clear cut fonts a fine as long as each letter is distinguishable”

What do you think? Do you find BeeLine Reader useful? Is there a particular color scheme that you found helpful? Is this “better” or “worse” than the fonts aimed at people with dyslexia?

–Rita W. El-Haddad


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