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For most people, browsing the Internet is a painless activity, but if you have dyslexia, it can throw all sorts of challenges your way. In this article we’ll be sharing a number of tips and tools you can use to make your time online that bit easier.

As someone with dyslexia, you’ve probably already figured out that zooming into web pages helps to make the text easier to read. The same goes for turning to video sites like YouTube or Vimeo, or listening to podcasts The 20 Best Podcasts of 2015: As Recommended by MakeUseOf The 20 Best Podcasts of 2015: As Recommended by MakeUseOf Have you ever wondered what your favorite MakeUseOf authors listen to when they want to learn something new, hear a good story, or simply be entertained? This article means you need wonder no more. Read More instead of reading long articles.

But there are a lot of other things you can do, too.

Most of the recommendations below are in the form of web browser extensions that you can download (usually) for free. The best ones are available on Google Chrome. So if you don’t use Google Chrome as your main web browser already, you should start. Though if you don’t want to switch browsers, we have included other options.

Using a Dyslexic-Friendly Font

There are a variety of fonts that have been designed specifically for people with dyslexia, with the most common being OpenDyslexic. This font makes the bottom of letters look “heavier”, so you can more easily tell which is the top, and which is the bottom. The unique shape to each letter also helps to stop your brain from flipping letters around in your mind.

OpenDyslexic Font

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You can download this font for free and install it in your browser or mobile devices. If you want to change the font on your phone, including your messages and emails, to something more readable, this is a great option. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to install the font here.

But if you want to simply change the font on the web pages you are visiting, there is a simpler option — the OpenDyslexic browser extension, available on Chrome, and also Firefox.

Once installed, the extension changes the text on any web page you visit to this dyslexic-friendly font while changing the formatting of the pages to make them easier to read. Try it now, and you should find reading the text on this page a lot easier.

Note of interest: Amazon Kindle has also refreshed the ebook reader with the OpenDyslexic font option to make it easier for those with reading difficulties.

Changing Text to Speech

If you prefer listening instead of reading, there are a lot of text to speech options that can read a web page to you out loud. Unfortunately, most of the options we tested sounded completely robotic, but we did find one that was pretty impressive.

SpeakIt! is a Google Chrome extension that will read to you any text that you select with your cursor. Simply highlight the text, then click the icon to listen to the content. You can pause the audio any time.

Text to Speech

If you use Firefox, the Text to Voice add-on is a similar option, with excellent reviews.

Or, if you’d rather not install an extension, you can copy and paste any text you want to be read to you into the text box on the NaturalReaders website. This is the perfect option if you want to have a PDF or Word document read to you.

Reading Different Text Formats on Your Phone

We just mentioned using NaturalReaders as a text to speech option for a few different formats on your computer, but what if you want a similar function on your phone or tablet?

Text to Speech Mobile App

The most popular choice here is Voice Dream Reader (iOS, Android, $9.99). This is a mobile application that can turn a massive array of file types into speech. These include text files, web pages, articles saved to Instapaper, books downloaded from Project Gutenberg or Bookshare, as well as ePub files. This app may be on the expensive side, but in this case, you really do get what you pay for.

The app comes with 36 voices, and 8 fonts installed (including OpenDyslexic which we mentioned earlier), but you can purchase others for a small fee. You can also change the reading speed How to Improve Your Reading Skills and Speed with Learning Tools for OneNote How to Improve Your Reading Skills and Speed with Learning Tools for OneNote Is Learning Tools for OneNote a part of your education? The free add-in for OneNote helps everyone improve reading and writing skills, including students with learning differences or gifted learners. Read More , and have the app highlight words as they are being read.

If you want a free option, iOS has a feature called VoiceOver and Android has something called TalkBack. These both have less features than Voice Dream Reader (though you can add more features to Apple’s VoiceOver Dictater Adds Controls to Your Mac's Text To Speech Function Dictater Adds Controls to Your Mac's Text To Speech Function Apple's built-in text to speech engine is a feature without an interface. Dictater is a simple Mac program that fixes that. Read More ), but come pre-installed on your device.

To enable this feature in iOS or Android, go to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver/TalkBack then select the options you want, and activate the feature. From then on, any element on your phone that you press-and-hold will be read out loud to you.

Changing Background Colors

Sometimes, you may feel that it’s not the font that is making reading difficult, but the background color of the page you are reading. Don’t worry, this is easily fixed.

Instapaper Dark Background

The easiest option here is to install CareYourEyes (Chrome) or ColorThatSite (Firefox). Both of these extensions easily allow you to change the background color of any website to whatever color you want. This means you don’t need to struggle to read on bright white backgrounds.

If you’re someone who likes to save articles to read later, both Instapaper (with all its amazing features Become an Instapaper Power User With These 6 Cool Features Become an Instapaper Power User With These 6 Cool Features Despite an impressive adoption rate, a plethora of Instapaper features often remain unexplored. Let’s take a look at a few of them. Read More ) and Readability allow you to change the background color within the app. This means you’ll be able to read text more easily not just on the web, but also within these read-later mobile apps, too.

Introducing Color to Text

I was only recently introduced to this approach that I hear can work well, so it’s definitely worth a try. BeeLine Reader can be used as a Chrome extension, within your browser, or as desktop version (which you can even use to read Kindle books).

BeeLine Reader

Basically, the start and end of each sentence on any website (if you install the Chrome extension) or on any text (if you copy and paste into the browser version), can be displayed in a variety of color gradients that guide your eyes, and reduce eyestrain 7 Ways to Reduce Screen Time and Rest Your Eyes 7 Ways to Reduce Screen Time and Rest Your Eyes Staying healthy includes caring for the eyes. Vision related health problems are a real lifestyle ailment and our digital habits are promoting. The cure lies in thoughtful use of the screen. Read More .

Improving Spelling and Grammar

Grammarly (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) is a powerful, free spelling and grammar checking browser extension. As you type an email, Facebook update, or blog post, the extension will highlight words or sentences that are incorrect. Just hover over those highlights to find the correct suggestion.

Grammarly Grammar Checker

The proofreading extension picks up a wide range of mistakes that Microsoft Word overlooks, while also taking into account the context of your sentences. This leads the company claiming that Grammarly is the “world’s most accurate grammar checker”. Having used this extension for a while, I can definitely say it’s the best grammar checker I’ve ever used.

But Chrome does have other spelling and grammar checking choices Best Ways To Spell-Check As You Go In Chrome Best Ways To Spell-Check As You Go In Chrome Proper spelling is more than a courtesy; it's also a sign of intelligence and good education. These days, you don't actually need to know how to spell to make a good impression. Read More , too.

Do You Think These Tools Could Help You?

None of these tools will solve every problem that someone with dyslexia will come across as they browse the Internet. But they can definitely help to make the whole experience somewhat easier.

Let us remember that dyslexia is a language based disorder and not a learning one. If you don’t have dyslexia, Victor Widell’s website helps you understand what the specific reading difficulty is like.

As these famous names prove, it can be overcome.

And this list is by no means exhaustive. So, if you have any other recommendations for tools and tips you have found useful, please share them in the comments so other readers can use them too.

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