Astronomer with Dyslexia Uses Bookshare to Customize the Reading Experience

By Julianna Wright, posted on
A photo of Niloofar in her office superimposed over a photo of stars in the night sky

Niloofar Khorshid is a Ph.D. student in Astronomy from the Netherlands. She needs to read scientific papers to stay up to date on the latest research. However, reading has always been a challenge for her. Frustrated and curious to get to the root of her reading challenges, Niloo completed an online screening through Neurolearning. The results showed that her reading and comprehension problems stemmed from dyslexia.

She was able to find strategies for dyslexic readers and get connected to resources to help her read, including a Bookshare account. Using Bookshare, she has found it much easier to read and finish books.

What challenges do you experience with reading? How have these challenges impacted you?

My main challenge in reading is comprehension. I need to read a lot of scientific articles for my work, and the challenges with comprehension and reading speed make it difficult to keep up. These documents are mainly electronic, which I find even more difficult to read. I have similar difficulties reading novels. However, when I read novels or other books it is easier to read at my own pace, as there is no stress about quickly understanding something new.

What reading strategies do you use to overcome these challenges?

I print as much as I can and use colored pens and highlighters to create contrast in the text that I can follow. I also use audiobooks or online text-to-speech. Writing and editing are also a challenge. With support from my husband and others, who proofread my work, I can feel comfortable sharing my writing with others.

How do you read using Bookshare?

I mainly change the font and colors. I like that there are settings that are specifically designed to help dyslexic people. Sometimes when that does not help, I read using text-to-speech. Bookshare has definitely made reading easier, and I am excited to be able to read more books independently.

Anything else you want to share?

It would be great if Bookshare worked with scientific journals so that scientists with disabilities could use its features for their work.

We would like to thank Niloo for sharing her story. If you work at a scientific journal, we’d love to work with you to make your publications more accessible. Learn more about Bookshare and our Born Accessible publishing initiative.

Learn more about how Benetech is making science education more accessible for people with reading barriers.