A New Personalized Reading Paradigm
For All Readers
(Young and Old, Strong and Struggling)

Readability was on the agenda at software giant Adobe’s annual MAX conference this year. CEO Shantanu Narayen kicked off the conference announcing over 500,000 people had registered for the virtual event. Adobe-MAX-This-Changes-Everything-New-Approach-to-ReadingRick Treitman, Entrepreneur in Residence, Adobe, and research partners Dr. Ben D. Sawyer of the University of Central Florida and Dr. Shelley Rodrigo of the University of Arizona presented the “This Changes Everything. New Approaches to Reading.” session.

Document Cloud’s Entrepreneur in Residence Shares Adobe’s Work

Rick reported that Readability Matters approached Adobe to share insights about allowing individuals to vary type characteristics to improve reading. “We liked that idea, so we built a prototype in Adobe Reader that allowed us to change the characteristics of the typesetting,” Rick shared. Test results with 3rd and 7th-grade students “matched the thinking from Readability Matters that the right format helps people at all levels of reading, not just the people who struggle but people who are reading pretty well already.”


Strong and struggling readers both benefit from Personalized Reading Formats.

Adobe has introduced Liquid Mode with Reading Settings in Acrobat Reader; individuals can now personalize their PDF text formats on mobile platforms.

Adobe is beginning to “to better understand the dynamics of reading and what is possible now that individuals can control their own reading experience,” stated Rick. After the positive test results, it was time for Adobe to  “get in the lab to do some more research.” They engaged Ben Sawyer.

Adult Reading Studies

The question of how information moves from machines to humans and back again is the focus of Ben’s laboratory at UCF. He noted that “the work that Readability Matters and Adobe were doing was of immediate interest to me and my laboratory. Any time we can accelerate that information transfer and keep comprehension intact, that’s at the core of what we are trying to do.”

Ben Sawyer, University of Central Florida, adult reading study

Both the 3rd-grade students (above) and the adults experienced significant gains.

Ben reported that studies of adult populations are producing results that “improved them enough to matter. There is a difference between a scientifically significant study and one that really has the potential to change the world.”

A Growing Community of Researchers
Readability Partners Adobe Readability Matters University of Central Florida

Shifting to a personalized reading format paradigm will require cross-sector collaboration.

Adobe Research’s Dr. Zoya Bylinski has formed a growing community of researchers,  gathering to study reading and to build research-informed tools.

The team engaged Shelley Rodrigo (U of A), who plans to teach over 4000 first-year students to adapt their reading environments this fall. She states, “It would be smashing if they all read more effectively and more efficiently, which might mean more enjoyably. Scholarship shows a correlation between positive emotion and learning.”

Visit the Virtual Readability LabThe presenters discussed the opportunity to test yourself at the Virtual Readability Lab and invited interested parties to connect and join the work.

Watch the Adobe MAX session video to learn more.


About Adobe: Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.