Readability Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Foundations and Trends in Human–Computer Interaction

Publication date: December 1, 2022

Sofie Beier, Sam Berlow, Esat Boucaud, Zoya Bylinskii, Tianyuan Cai, Jenae Cohn, Kathy Crowley, Stephanie L. Day, Tilman Dingler, Jonathan Dobres, Jennifer Healey, Rajiv Jain, Marjorie Jordan, Bernard Kerr, Qisheng Li, Dave B. Miller, Susanne Nobles, Alexandra Papoutsaki, Jing Qian, Tina Rezvanian, Shelley Rodrigo, Ben D. Sawyer, Shannon M. Sheppard, Bram Stein, Rick Trietman, Jen Vanek, Shaun Wallace, Benjamin Wolfe

The control provided by digital displays over how visual information is presented to readers has the potential to improve reading for each and every reader, regardless of ability or diagnosis. On screens, text is fluid, allowing for individual customization based on reader needs, content, and reading task. This represents a profound shift in how we think about reading, because text is no longer rendered immutable by writers, designers or publishers at a single stage, and human-computer interaction research is key to realizing its potential. Targeted changes to the visual characteristics of text on screens increases the ease with which a reader can process and derive meaning. In this review, we provide a comprehensive introduction to interdisciplinary methodologies, tools, and materials required for readability research focused on the individual reader. We call on the HCI community to contribute to our growing understanding of readers’ needs, to study the interactions between text, user, and task, and to build the tools and interfaces needed to improve reading outcomes for all.

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