Attention-driven read-aloud technology increases reading comprehension in children with reading disabilities

Gianluca Schiavo, Nadia Mana, Ornella Mich, Massimo Zancanaro, Remo Job

The paper presents the design of an assistive reading tool that integrates read-aloud technology with eye-tracking to regulate the speed of reading and support struggling readers in following the text while listening to it. The paper describes the design rationale of this approach, following the theory of auditory-visual integration, in terms of an automatic self-adaptable technique based on the reader's gaze that provides an individualized interaction experience. This tool has been assessed in a controlled experiment with 20 children (aged 8-10 years) with a diagnosis of dyslexia and a control group of 20 children with typical reading abilities. The results show that children with reading difficulties improved their comprehension scores by 24% measured on a standardized instrument for the assessment of reading comprehension, and that children with more inaccurate reading (N=9) tended to benefit more. The findings are discussed in terms of a better integration between audio and visual text information, paving the way to improve standard read-aloud technology with gaze-contingency and self-adaptable techniques to personalize the reading experience.

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