Readability Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction
December 12, 2022
“From the moment we wake up to the moment we end our day, we use interfaces built out of the written word. Textual information remains now, as it has for centuries, the cornerstone of human information acquisition. The wide adoption of smartphone, tablets, e-readers and personal computers has shifted the bulk of this reading from inflexible paper to digital content. 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. 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.”
“Readability research takes a fundamentally individual approach to what each reader needs. Each reader has their own individual needs. Meanwhile, adapting the written word to the individual reader has never been easier, and the goal of maximizing individual reading efficacy is increasingly attainable. No one discipline or field has all the tools or answers, and readability work is inherently interdisciplinary. The authors of this monograph include vision scientists, technology experts, educators, designers, typographers, and data scientists. Together they represent voices from academia, the tech industry, and non-profit institutions, driven by common goals to improve the reading interfaces of today. In this review, they provide a comprehensive introduction to interdisciplinary methodologies, tools, and materials required for readability research focused on the individual reader. They call on the HCI community to contribute to the 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…”
Twenty-eight different authors —
from around the world and across many disciplines — collaborated to author an 80+ page intro to Readability research toward the goal of accelerating best practices and methodologies. See the publication here: https://nowpublishers.com/article/Details/HCI-089. And, use discount code 226485 for a reduced-price copy of the paper.
What could be cooler than an interdisciplinary article written by 28 authors – experts in different areas that all touch on reading/readability – from typography and design, neuroscience and vision science, education, and machine learning? I’ll tell you what: it’s that this article is now published, and we hope that it will indeed become a foundational and trend-setting piece in HCI research and beyond.”
Zoya Bylinskii, Ph.D., Adobe
“Readability Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach”
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 Treitman | 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.
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 Treitman, Jen Vanek, Shaun Wallace and Benjamin Wolfe (2022), “Readability Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach”, Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction: Vol. 16: No. 4, pp 214-324. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/1100000089
We acknowledge the following individuals for their valuable contributions to this manuscript: Betsy Laxton, Sarah Barrientos, Jose Echevarria, Xander Koo, Max Rose, Xi Wang, and Nardos Gebriye. We acknowledge the Readability Research Community. This monthly meeting of scientists from whom our authorship was drawn, provides so much inspiration in monthly discussions that the group’s influence must surely be contained within these pages. Authors presented in alphabetical author for this collaborative work.
Design and Evaluation: Design and interaction, Design and Evaluation: User-centered design processes, Design and Evaluation: Ergonomics/Human Factors, Assistive technologies, Perception and the user interface, Specific user groups (children, elders, etc.), Technology: Output technologies
reading, readability, text, document, information processing, typography, design, reading interfaces
A Collaborative Interdisciplinary Readability Research Approach