Reducing lexical complexity as a tool to increase text accessibility for children with dyslexia

Abstract : Lexical complexity plays a central role in readability, particularly for dyslexic children and poor readers because of their slow and laborious decoding and word recognition skills. Although some features to aid readability may be common to many languages (e.g., the majority of 'easy' words are of low frequency), we believe that lexical complexity is mainly language-specific. In this paper, we define lexical complexity for French and we present a pilot study on the effects of text simplification in dyslexic children. The participants were asked to read out loud original and manually simplified versions of a standardized French text corpus and to answer comprehension questions after reading each text. The analysis of the results shows that the simplifications performed were beneficial in terms of reading speed and they reduced the number of reading errors (mainly lexical ones) without a loss in comprehension. Although the number of participants in this study was rather small (N=10), the results are promising and contribute to the development of applications in computational linguistics.
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Núria Gala, Johannes Ziegler. Reducing lexical complexity as a tool to increase text accessibility for children with dyslexia. Computational Linguistics for Linguistic Complexity, workshop at COLING (Computational Linguistics conference), Dec 2016, Osaka, Japan. ⟨hal-01757941⟩

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