Photo: Aaron Burden / aaronburden.com
Photo: Aaron Burden / aaronburden.com

It’s hard to empathize with people who have dyslexia. After all, reading is one of the easiest things we do.

You see a bunch of text, and with a rapid fire of neuron connections in the brain you understand what the author is saying.

The process is a bit different for dyslexics. Take a look at this gif of a block of text. This is what a dyslexic person sees when reading normal text.

We also provided the unscrambled text below, but try to see if you can make out the words first:

dyslexia

*Unscrambled text*
Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal intelligence. This includes difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills/verbal comprehension, and/or rapid naming.

Developmental reading disorder (DRD) is the most common learning disability. Dyslexia is the most recognized of reading disorders, however not all reading disorders are linked to dyslexia.

The text comes from a developer named Victor Windell who wanted to understand what reading is like for dyslexic people. So he wrote a computer simulation that scrambles letters in a way that dyslexic brains scramble them.

“A friend who has dyslexia described to me how she experiences reading,” says Victor Windell. “She can read, but it takes a lot of concentration, and the letters seems to “jump around”’.

If you concentrate hard enough on the gif, you can make out the words. It’s a huge mental strain, but that’s how dyslexic people read words every day.

An important thing to note is that people with dyslexia don’t have a mental disability – a common misconception.

It’s a disorder of how on they see the words rather than how they understand them. It doesn’t help that the official name for dyslexia is “developmental reading disorder”, invoking a perception that dyslexics are unintelligent.

Once dyslexic people make out the letters, comprehension is not a problem.

Dyslexia International, a nonprofit founded to help students with the disorder, estimates that there are currently 700 million people with various degree of dyslexia in the world, or about one in ten.

“Too often, however, students with dyslexia remain undiagnosed throughout their school careers,” writes Dyslexia International, “labeled instead as lazy or disruptive.”