Sample Research Proposal on the Effect of a Specialized Dyslexia Font, Open Dyslexic, on Reading Rate and Accuracy

1.1 Introduction

Wery and Diliberto (2016) define dyslexia as a learning disability which affects verbal fluency, poor decoding abilities, and language inaccuracies. It is attributed to neurological origin which alters the cognitive abilities and can inhibit language development and background knowledge (Wery and Diliberto, 2016). Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms and Bonte (2014) attribute reading comprehension and writing prowess as instrumental factors for academic excellence. Incapacitated abilities sin reading and writing results to academic failure which increases the chance of low self-esteem and school absentia. Dyslexia is associated with inhabiting the reading and writing prowess placing it as a learning disorder. It is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V, 2013) in American Psychiatric Association as a specific learning disability (SLD) (Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms & Bonte et al., 2014). This makes dyslexia an important factor for consideration in the education system.

Open dyslexic on the other hand refers to a special type of font that is developed to enhance reading among patients with dyslexia (Wery and Diliberto, 2016). It is designed in a way that enhances bold, regular, italic, and mono-spaced font styles that acts as a reading aid. According to Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al. (2012), openDyslexic distributes font freely specifically designed to assist dyslexic readers Open dyslexic and special dyslexia fonts are available in both imprint and as software which is available in most browsers such as Google to enable reading comprehension.

1.2 Background of the study

According to Werry and Jerry (2016), around 15% to 20% of english speaking children are diagnosed with dyslexia as reported by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) 2007. The prevalence rate of dyslexia is estimated to be between 10 and 15% attracting a considerable volume of research and debate in the United States of America (Washburn, Binks-Cantrel & Joshi, 2013).  Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms and Bonte (2014) links dyslexia with the continuous persistent in impaired reading abilities through the education system. Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al. (2012) feel that dyslexia is responsible for altered literacy development among 5% of the school population around the globe. The authors argue that a dyslexic child can read a certain amount of words in year where a fluent reader can tackle the same in 2 days (Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al., 2012). Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms and Bonte (2014) assert that 5-10% of children are affected by development dyslexia and they lack seeking proficient reading skills. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services associates developmental dyslexia with dropping out of school. The issue of dyslexia has been prevalent in the school system where students have a problem with phonological processing and letter-speech correspondences. According to Lane, Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al. (2012), around 5.8% to 17.5% of school-age children have dyslexic disorders which increase their childhood depression rates as demonstrated by 2.8% of children who are younger than 13 years and 5.6% of youth 13 to 18 years of age experience this disorder with 15.9% of school-age students indicating comorbidity (Snowling, 2009).

Most of the readers who have inabilities in reading comprehension are affected by letters crowding (Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al., 2012). Crowding is detrimental for visual clarity among adults and school aged student with dyslexia. It affects the peripheral vision of letters and readers cannot fathom or recognize the letters properly. Resultantly, their reading skills are adversely affected and they cannot manipulate the texts. The speed of reading is also affected as well as writing. Various studies therefore identified that accessibility of reading can be enhanced by manipulation of the physical properties of print such as the font type, print size among others (Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms & Bonte, 2014). Accordingly, two specialized fonts, open dyslexic and specialized font were developed as a measure of curbing reading errors among dyslexic students (Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al., 2012). The two typefaces are aimed at increasing the eye-tracking of letters and reading comprehension. These fonts differ from the other, more traditional fonts because the letters have been designed to have thicker or “heavier” lines near the bottom of the letters (Snowling, 2009). They are also spaced to avoid crowding and enhance eye-tracking for people with reading inabilities.

Werry and Jerry (2016) say that using early identification/screening measures, early childhood professionals can identify children with dyslexia and those who are at risk for more serious social-emotional difficulties. Identifying children at risk for social-emotional problems in the preschool years would mean earlier interventions, improving outcomes for these children (Walker, Ramsey & Gresham 2004). Early identification of behavior risk is a cornerstone of effective early intervention. Early identification is typically a multi-stage process. Initially a large group of children must be screened at regular intervals (e.g. 1 -3 times per year) to identify those children who may have behavior excesses or deficits (Snowling, 2009).

1.3 Aims of the study

As observed, open dyslexic and specialized font have been developed as typefaces aimed at countering reading inabilities among dyslexic students. The rates of developmental dyslexia among school-aged children have been considered quite high and it is widely prevalent in the school systems. Coming up with absolute measures for addressing the concerns attributed to dyslexia is quite progressive in the education system. As a result, this study aims at verifying the efficiency of these two typefaces, open dyslexic and specialized font, in addressing the issues of developmental dyslexia among school children. The study aims at establishing the work efficiency of open dyslexic in increasing the rate of reading in terms of fluency and accuracy in classroom and other settings. There is a great deal in establishing the adversities associated with dyslexia as it is cited as one of the limitations in literacy development among children. More so, it is important to understand if the already established counter measures are efficient and to validite their success in order to recommend their use in the education systems.

1.4 Research questions

The main research question of this study is to establish whether using open dyslexic among students with dyslexia improves their reading fluency and accuracy. Other research questions will include

  1. What is the role of the teacher in enhancing reading comprehension among dyslexic children?
  2. What impacts does open dyslexic have on dyslexic children?






2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Dyslexia

Reading and writing are fundamental aspects that determine the student’s success in and out of the school environment. Most of the training and instructions embedded in the school systems depend on reading and writing. Reading fluency is quite important in the child’s ability to progress and prosper both academically and socially (Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al., 2012). Unfortunately, dyslexia is a health condition that inhibits these two important aspects of development among young school children (Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al., 2012). It is defined as a learning disability which affects verbal fluency, poor decoding abilities, and language inaccuracies (Walker, Ramsey & Gresham 2004). It is attributed to neurological origin which alters the cognitive abilities and can inhibit language development and background knowledge (Wery and Diliberto, 2016). The issue of dyslexia is quite common among school-aged children and it acts as one of the inhibiting factors for their success. Zorzi, Barbiero, Facoetti, Lonciari et al. (2012) affirm that dyslexia has technical characteristics which are elicited in behavior risk; there are some unresolved issues about its use with young children. First, in terms of technical adequacy, the scale has been validated through research with elementary-aged students and those in middle and high school but has not yet undergone formal evaluation for preschool-aged children. Dyslexia is quite detrimental to the development and success of children who are in school and those who are socially inactive (Snowling, 2009).

Preliminary results studies on early childhood teachers and administrators, (Peters, personal communication) suggests that they share these concerns about the vagueness of the dyslexia behavior categories and specific classes of behavior such as stealing and lying/cheating (Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al., 2012).  Whether these vagaries affect the issue of dyslexia technical adequacy is, of course, an empirical matter; however, vaguely defined categories or behaviors perceived as inappropriate for rating of young children may affect early childhood educator’s readiness to use such an instrument despite its technical properties (Zaric, Gonzalez, Tijms & Bonte, 2014).  These issues might be addressed by providing more specific and concrete definitions of the behavior categories, ones that early childhood educators might contribute to themselves.

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Lane, Parks et al. (2007) define emotional and behavioral disorders as undesirable, sustained patterns of socially inappropriate behaviors. Behavioral difficulties have for long been associated with learners especially in their developmental stages. Learners may elicit behavioral abnormalities due to a number of reasons such as their family background, rejection from their friends, mental health conditions, neglect, and even emotional imbalances. According to Lane, Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al. (2012), around 5.8% to 17.5% of school-age children have anxiety disorders while childhood depression rates demonstrated that 2.8% of children younger than 13 years and 5.6% of youth 13 to 18 years of age experience this disorder with 15.9% of school-age students indicating comorbidity (Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al., 2012). Additionally, 28.4% of middle school youth manifest self-injurious behavior which shows that EBD is prevalence in young age(Severson et al., 2007). Warren et al. (2012) affirm that EBD may be experienced at any stage in life. Generally, those who develop EBD earlier in life, in the pre-elementary or elementary years, are considered early starters, while those who develop EBD in middle school or later are considered late starters (Lane, Parks, Kalberg, & Carter, 2007).

The emotional behavioral disorders are manifested in two main approaches. They include externalizing and internalizing behavioral patterns which contribute to challenges in social, academic, and behavioral difficulties for learners. Atkin (2016) says that Externalizing behaviors are elicited through outward behaviors that can be noted through the individual’s activities. They consist of physical or verbal aggression such as fighting, stealing, cheating, and other outward-directed behaviors which attract the attention of the nearby person (Atkin, 2016). The external behaviors are detrimental in the students’ growth both socially and academically. It is therefore important to seek early intervention programs to address the outwardly manifested behavioral patterns (Severson et al., 2007). The internalizing behaviors on the other hand are directed to the nature of behaviors that are intrinsically manifested in an individual (Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al., 2012). These behaviors may include anxiety, withdrawal, or depression; these behaviors are mostly associated with emotional imbalance. These students are constantly stressed and elicit social withdrawal behaviors.

Lane, Parks, Kalberg and Carter, (2007) imply that the internalized behaviors usually go unnoticed. This is because of their intrinsic manifestation which is difficult to identify as compared with external behaviors. Both externalizing and internalizing behaviors may be challenging for the teacher to notice due to their busy schedule that is consumed by educational stuff. Actually, when these behaviors go unnoticed, the child carries them to the next stage increasing the associated risk (Severson et al., 2007). For instance, a depressed child may go on to the next development stage and begin drug and substance consumption. This signifies the ultimate importance of engaging early intervention programs to identify these emotional and behavioral disorders during a young age.

2.2 Behavioral screening

Severson et al. (2007) asserts that the issue of behavioral screening is historical in academic parameters. Severson et al. (2007) continues to say that the social-behavioral development has been considered as push factor in the education system. Warren et al. (2012) found out that students who had problems with their behaviors had also associated academic incapacities. The relationship between behavior and performance fueled the urge to establish the behaviors of students in the education parameters. Severson et al. (2007) says that the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) allocated resources to four Behavioral Research Centers (BRCs) in 2004 to establish the quagmire of school related behavior problems. The research institutes based their studies on behavior and screening in the school centers. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) then concluded that educational professionals accomplished screening for behaviorally at risk-students (Severson et al., 2007).

Atkin (2016) says that Screening is critical components of the procedural framework aimed at identifying students who have varying needs that require different intensities or tiers of interventions. Behavioral screening is paramount in schools as it aids in the intervention for students and their needs. Screening measures may be used in schools to identify students at risk of academic failure, dropout, behavioral difficulties or other challenges to help provide administrators and teachers with tools to help determine which students may need additional support (Lynne, Menzies, Katy et al., 2012).





3.0 Methodology

3.1 Subjects

Subjects for this study will be preschool-aged children’s teachers and teaching assistants and early elementary grade teachers (K – 2).  To conduct the survey of what instrument(s) are currently used by early childhood educators, we will solicit the participation of attendees at local, regional, and national conferences focusing on early childhood learning and development over the next 8 months. These include The ETSU Early childhood conference typically has an attendance of 1000 or more registrants. We hope to obtain the voluntary participation of at least 100 of the attendees at the 2011 conference.

3.2 sampling

We will also use this sample to solicit specific behavior descriptors that teachers and assistants believe exemplify each of the seven behavior categories of the SRSS, and those that may be problematic for young children. These examples will be analyzed for concurrence across teachers at each grade level, and examples of behaviors that are concordant (similar) for at least 50% of the sample of teachers at that grade level will be evaluated and discussed.

3.3 Measures

There will be a two-page questionnaire consisting of a demographic survey of the respondent on the first page and the second page respondents to provide developmentally appropriate examples of each of the 7 classes of behavior composing the SRSS behavior screening scale. The second page will also ask teachers and assistants what instruments and/or procedures their preschool or school currently uses to screen children for behavioral risk. This survey is included at the end of this proposal.. In the section asking teachers what they currently use for screening of children with behavior risks, we will develop a brief questionnaire that consists of two parts. The First question will simply ask teachers check which of several specific instruments (the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist, the Social Skills Rating System, the Early Screening Project, etc) their program, preschool or school system currently uses, they will have the option or writing in other instruments or procedures if none of the listed options are used by their program/system.

The second part of the questionnaire will ask teachers to briefly list 2 or 3 examples of specific behaviors that they believe illustrate ones that they have seen in their classrooms and that they consider inappropriate for young children (those children between 3 and 5 years of age).  If a teacher or assistant feels that a particular class of behavior is not one that is applicable or appropriate for rating a young child, they will have the option to check “not appropriate for young children”. Teacher and assistant subjects will also be encouraged to add any other behaviors and examples of behaviors that they feel are important in evaluating young children for behavior risk that they do not believe are listed on the questionnaire.

3.4 Procedures

The investigators will attend the ETSU Annual Early Childhood Conference  and conduct face to face solicitation of subjects as they enter or leave presenation sessions. Approximately every 5th person entering or leaving a presentation session will be approached and asked to complete our survey questionnaire. The investigators will describe the purpose of the study, indicate what the potential subject will be asked to do, the length of time it will take and the procedures involved. The participant will then be asked to sign an informed consent doument, a section containing demographic information and survey. Any questions the subject has will be answered prior to signing informed consent.

4.0 Conclusion

The research will be integral in establishing the validity and the efficieny of using SRSS as a behavioral screening approach. The literature review has already indicated that social and behavioral development are essential for children growth. Therefore, this study will be of great importance to education stakeholders who embrace behaviroal screening in the education systems.



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