Academic journal article Visible Language

Linking Design Principles with Educational Research Theories to Teach Sound to Symbol Reading Correspondence with Multisensory Type

Academic journal article Visible Language

Linking Design Principles with Educational Research Theories to Teach Sound to Symbol Reading Correspondence with Multisensory Type

Article excerpt


Designing products that are considered easy to use and beautiful, yet also effectively addressing the communication problem, can be a difficult challenge for any designer. This paper explains the development of See Word Reading(TM), a digital tool that explores letterforms when teaching beginning reading principles to children at risk of reading difficulties. After conducting a pilot study with this tool, we assert that dynamic type within digital technologies can offer an even greater opportunity to master alphabetic consolidation by using the engagement of multiple senses.


typography; reading; multi-disciplinary; technology; multi-sensory


Billy Is a precocious 5 year old who loves books. He interacts with them every opportunity he gets, whether it be at home, In the car, or waiting in the hair salon while his mom is getting her hair washed and trimmed. His favorite story Is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Every time he sees the icon for this story on the Smartphone, he can't help but touch It. After touching the icon he becomes immediately engrossed In the story because of the Illustrated images and the friendly voice that is telling him the story as words appear on the screen. For Billy what makes this story all the more engaging is the fact he can touch the images and letters in the story and get them to make noises as the story Is being read. He particularly likes petting the bears'heads to make them roar. To him this is the experience of learning early reading skills; to most of us who are 20 years and older this is a very foreign experience.

New technologies have changed the way children are Interacting with images and type in the early stages of learning to read. A study conducted by the Internet security company AVG found that 19% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 know how to use a Smartphone or a tablet application whereas only 11% can tie their own shoelaces. Leap Frog, computers, iPads, and Smartphones allow for a much more hands-on ap- proach to reading experiences. Previously, children were introduced to read- ing by sitting with their parents while they read a hardbound book. While the parent-child interaction Is still happening and is very necessary, today's parents are sometimes replacing the hardbound book with a digital tablet. In fact,"The ubiquitous quality of technology Is nudging literacy instruction beyond Its oral and print-based tradition to the embracing of digital tools that utilize typography, imagery, and interactivity" 2001). The usage of digital technologies inside the classroom is an increasing trend In educa- tion as well (Li, Pow, Wong, & Fung, 2010). Unfortunately many of the tools and applications being developed for these digital technologies look beauti- ful and seem purposeful, but they lack the depth in educational research to adequately address issues in reading instruction.

While opportunities exist for new types of reading experiences, the US still faces staggering concerns regarding literacy among children. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 33% of fourth graders and 24% of eighth graders in the US are at or below a basic level reading skills (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2007). This means that about a 1/3 of our children are reading at merely a functional level.

With the rise of new digital technologies, 21 st Century children are greatly immersed in digital reading experiences. This paper will explain the development of See Word Reading, a digital tool that explores the impact of multisensory letterforms on teaching beginning reading principles to children considered at risk of reading difficulties. Es- sentially this case study describes the evolution of a product design that is grounded in educational theories on reading and comprehension.



Reading Is a complex skill Informed by multiple sources of knowledge gleaned over time (Scarborough, 2009). …

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