Simply widening the space between letters in words markedly increases reading speed and accuracy among children with dyslexia -- an easy fix with e-books and other forms of technology that readily allow text manipulation, new research suggests.

Analyzing 34 Italian and 40 French dyslexic children between the ages of 8 and 14, researchers from the University of Padua in Italy found that extra-wide letter spacing sped up the students' reading by more than 20 percent and doubled the children's text-reading accuracy.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of the spacing benefit," said study author Marco Zorzi, a professor of psychology and artificial intelligence. "The average increase in reading speed is equivalent to that observed across one year of school -- and the halving of the number of errors speaks for itself."

The study is published June 5 in the journal PNAS.

Dyslexia, a language-based disability that causes difficulty in learning to recognize written words, is thought to affect about 5 percent of the school-age population, study authors said, noting that a typical dyslexic child may read the same number of words in one year as a good reader does in two days.

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