Readability Experts Share Insights

(Links to overview, 3 track and 9 lightning talk videos below)


Skoll World Forum - The Virtual Readability Lab and research findings – adult readers Shaun Wallace

click to enlarge; link below

At the 2022 Skoll World Forum, 25 interdisciplinary readability experts came together to produce over 4 hours of lightning talks and discussions on readability. Hosted by Readability Matters, experts from nonprofits, tech, academia and education presented the latest research and tech developments supporting better reading experiences. The workshops focused on moving the proof points to implementation.

To advance the work, three breakout tracks discussed (1) creating a diagnostic tool to quickly and easily assess an individual’s best reading format, (2) bringing personalized reading to education, and (3) the benefits of personalized reading to businesses and the tools needed to bring the solution to implementation.

Resources including links to tools and published papers were shared using Padlet and are available for further use. (Links to the Padlets are at the bottom of this page.)

Opening/Closing Talks

The session opened with Kathy Crowley and Marjorie Jordan, Readability Matters Co-Founders, providing an overview of the social imperative and the benefits of personalized reading to individuals of all ages and reading abilities. Rick Treitman, Adobe Entrepreneur in Residence, detailed Adobe’s tech bets and research investments. Each of the Breakout Track facilitators introduced their sessions. They also summarized the discussions after the full group reconvened. (See more video of the breakout discussions below.)

Breakout Tracks

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Track 1 |
Diagnostic Tool Development
(► Track video)

Facilitators:  Dr. Zoya Bylinskii, Research Scientist at Adobe, Research Affiliate at MIT and Rick Treitman, Entrepreneur in Residence, Adobe

Additional Experts in Session:  Dr. Shannon Sheppard, Asst Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders, and Director, Cognition, Rehabilitation, and Neuroscience in Atypical Language Lab, Chapman University; Dr. Jocelyn Dueck, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

Links to Lightning Talk Videos:

► The Virtual Readability Lab and research findings – adult readers:  Shaun Wallace, PhD Candidate, Brown University

► The Importance of Character Width:  Dr. Sofie Beier, Professor WSD, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design

► Reading rulers research findings:  Aleena Niklaus, Software Engineer, Adobe



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Track 2 |
Implementation for Education Use
(► Track video)

Facilitators:  Victoria Neff, Assistant Director, EdTech Center at World Education and Dr. Stephanie Day, Research Scientist, University of Central Florida

Additional Experts in Session: Dr. Rochelle Rodrigo, Senior Director of Writing Program and Associate Professor in the Rhetoric, Composition, The University of Arizona; Michael Hernandez, Teacher, Author, Consultant; Rachel Riggs,
Digital Learning Specialist, edTech Center at World Education

Links to Lightning Talk Videos:

► K-8th Grade Readability Comprehension Study:  Dr. Susanne Nobles, Chief Academic Officer,

► Digital reading pedagogy for adults and in higher education:  Dr. Jenae Cohn, Director, Academic Technology, California State University-Sacramento

► Adult Literacy: Field Testing Readability Changes:  Dr. Jen Vanek, Director, Digital Learning and Research, EdTech Center at World Education



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Track 3 |
Implementation in Tech Tools and for Business Use
(► Track video)

Facilitators:  Dr. Ben D. Sawyer, Director, The Readability Consortium, University of Central Florida and Mike Kraley, Senior Principal Scientist, Adobe

Additional Experts in Session:  Sam Berlow, Founder, Typography for Good; Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and Director, Applied Perception and Psychophysics Lab, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Links to Lightning Talk Videos:

► Typography Implications for Tool Deployment:  Tim Brown, Head of Typography, Adobe

► The Importance of Variable Fonts in Improving Readability:  Dave Crossland, Lead Operations Manager, Google and Dr. Hilary Palmén, Lead UX Researcher, Google

► Predictive Models for Readability:  Tianyuan Cai, Machine Learning Engineer, Adobe



Access the Padlet virtual bulletin boards here:

Session | Building Better Reading Through Personalized Digital Text
Track 1 | Diagnostic Tool Development
Track 2 | Implementation for Education Use
Track 3 | Implementation in Tech Tools and for Business Use


Skoll World Forum

Visit the Skoll World Forum site to see videos from all three days of programming.



ABOUT SKOLL FOUNDATION: Skoll Foundation supports transformational social change. They support organizations tackling interconnected problems and advancing solutions from every angle—from disrupting unjust power dynamics and systems, changing attitudes and behaviors, and mobilizing movements, to improving services, policies, and practices. They focus on problems and places that are ripe for change, with high potential for major impact.

ABOUT SKOLL WORLD FORUM: The 2022 Skoll World Forum is an all-virtual event designed for learning, connection, and taking action for those dedicated to social progress. “Our 2022 theme is “Face/Forward.” In this time of uncommon struggle, with painful truths revealed, we are learning from the past and moving collectively in the direction of progress. Together, we’ll face today’s challenges and advance the global solutions needed to bring people and planet into a thriving new era.”