Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can You Read Me Now?

As an author with dyslexia, I enjoy passing along demonstrations based on research done at Cambridge University.   The material in this post is not original, though at this point, it has been repeated enough that I have no idea who to give attribution to.  What research am I referring to? Here is a summary:
 “...aoccdrnig to  rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the  ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last  ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can  still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed  ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.”

If you think the above paragraph is “Azanming”, check this out:

  “7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!  BY N0W, Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17  4U70M471C4LLY  W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.”

Note that in the preceding paragraph not only are things mixed - up, numbers have been substituted for letters.

The demonstration warms the heart of someone with dyslexia.  This is the world I live in even when the letters are in the right order for everyone else.  Forget for a minute about the unusual text used in the Cambridge demonstration. Consider ordinary written text. A person with normal reading ability might be confused or put off by a misspelled, missing, or wrong word.  Not someone with my particular dyslexic tendencies.  I read images and context not letters or even words as you think of them.  I would not notice that the word was misspelled.  My mind would fill in the missing word and auto-correct a wrong word to match the context without even realizing it has done so.

How does it work when I’m writing.  In the early days my smart wife interpreted and reworked my efforts.  With success came secretaries who were told that it was not my job to get the letters in the right order.  That was their job.  I just had to get close.   Now I have technology— auto-correct, grammar and spell check, and as a backup, professional editors.

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