This Knowledge Base forms Appendix B in the Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dyslexia . It will be regularly updated and changes made available on this web-page.

Knowledge base

Models of disability
Copyright limitations
Dyslexia-friendly printing
Easy-to-read materials
How to integrate DAISY talking books
Drawbacks of digital text
Examples of DAISY multimedia books


This knowledge base is not intended to supply extensive information about dyslexia and all the effects it has on peoples’ lives. We can imagine, however, that members of library staff wish to extend their knowledge in this field in order to be able to offer tailor-made services to persons with dyslexia.

With this purpose in mind, we have put together a list of reliable and objective sources; a small knowledge base that can be consulted by members of library staff. In the selection of sources we have tried to offer an international and intercultural view but we are aware of the fact that most sources are of Western origin.

The dominance of sources from the English-speaking world can be explained by two reasons: first, the English language is the most widely used language within the IFLA organization; second, English is a very difficult language because of its deep structure and, therefore, all readers (especially those with dyslexia) experience relatively more problems mastering written English.

In order to keep the sources up-to-date they will be checked annually and the most recent version of this knowledge base will be available at the IFLA website (

If you have some information to feed this knowledge base, please contact us. We will be very grateful.


1. is a website for individuals with dyslexia but also for anyone who wants to know more about dyslexia without having to read complicated articles and books. A lot of the explanation is done through videos.

2. The International Dyslexia Association:

3. The Australian Dyslexia Association:

4. The European Dyslexia Association:

5. The British Dyslexia Association:

6a. Dyslexia and Literacy International sharing expertise. Dyslexia and Literacy International combines Dyslexia International, Belgium, which was dissolved on 21 June, 2019, and Literacy International, a Registered Charity in England and Wales. It offers free teacher-training programmes which embody latest scientific research to ensure that literacy is taught effectively around the world :

6b. French version of Dyslexia International. Dyslexia International is a non-governmental organization in partnership with UNESCO. It offers an online course about dyslexia :


7. In this video the internationally well-known scientist Dr. Keith Stanovich talks about the Matthew Effects in relation to reading:

8. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity:

9. IFLA Sections on Library Services to People with Special Needs (LSN) and Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities (LPD).
Within IFLA there are two specialist sections where libraries and organizations for persons with print disabilities work together and share their experiences. ( and


Models of disability

Information about different views on models of disability can be found at: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Articles which are of interest for this subject are:
Article 2 – Definitions
Article 8 – Awareness-raising
Article 9 – Accessibility
Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
Article 24 – Education
Article 30 – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

An animation on YouTube explaining the social model of disability:

Copyright limitations

Exceptions and limitations in copyright (cf. 2.2)
Copyright can be seen as a balance between the rights of authors (or their representatives) and the rights of the users (readers). Most copyright laws define some special cases in which the rights of the authors are suspended or limited. These are called exceptions and limitations. Copyright laws (and exceptions) vary from country to country and have limited (territorial) reach. What may work in one country may be illegal in another. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the UN agency that strives to deal with copyright in the international arena (

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disable (Marrakesh, June 27th 2013) brings into the scope of exceptions people who are suffering from “perceptual or reading disability which cannot be improved…”. There is also a European Memorandum of Understanding that specifically includes persons with dyslexia in the category of people who may benefit from this exception.

Marrakesh Treaty will enter into force on September 30, 2016.

The full text of the Marrakesh treaty in print, audio, DAISY, and Braille formats can be accessed here:

An EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) Guide for Libraries provides an introduction to the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities (2013), its key provisions and recommendations for national implementation in order to maximize the opportunities it offers to libraries to increase the reading materials available to persons with print disabilities. Available in English, Russian, French and Serbian. EIFL is a not-for-profit organization, who is supporting ratification of the treaty and implementation into national copyright law:

Is dyslexia included in the copyright exception?
Many specialized libraries provide services to visually impaired and to other print disabled persons. Variations in national copyright laws may not always make it possible to support persons with dyslexia by these services and in many cases budget restraints make it impossible to offer the full range of services to persons with dyslexia.

When books are made and/or copied under a disability exception, they can only be distributed to those who are legally entitled to receive them. This is called closed circulation and may create friction with the existing non-discriminatory policies of public libraries.

If your national copyright law does not include exceptions for persons with reading disabilities such as dyslexia, try to raise awareness within the library community that this is not consistent with the modern international copyright framework, exemplified by the Marrakech Treaty and the European Memorandum of Understanding. Libraries play an important role in providing access to knowledge and need to influence governments.

Referring to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD), adopted in 2008, can be a strong legal argument in favour of using special copies or techniques to give access to information to persons with dyslexia. To find out the status of the UNCRPD in your country, contact the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [SCRPD] in the Division for Social Policy and Development [DSPD] of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs [DESA] at the United Nations Secretariat:

British Dyslexia Association (BDA) on the UK Equality Act: 

What is the relevance of library e-lending facilities?
The relevance of eBooks for persons with dyslexia cannot be overstated. Providing access to eBooks means that a reader has flexible access to the text. Not all formats of eBooks and eReaders afford the same possibilities but at best the reader can vary the size and style of the font, change the background or turn on Text-to-Speech to create audio output. It is in the best interests of persons with dyslexia to campaign for an eBook lending service and to work diligently for the right of libraries to include eBooks in their lending rights. IFLA is campaigning accordingly and has recently published the Principles of Library eLending.

IFLA provides a strong platform for libraries to be heard. IFLA has a professional committee on Copyright and Other Legal Matters (CLM) with expertise on this subject (

Dyslexia-friendly printing

Whenever possible, use:

  • Sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Verdana or try the specially created font Opendyslexic
  • 12 to 14 point font size
  • Line spacing of 1.5 or double
  • Cream/off white paper
  • Break text into short blocks, using headings and subheadings
  • Use bold for emphasis rather than italics or underlining
  • Highlight important parts of the text by putting it in a box
  • Align text on the left in left-to-right languages (flush left, ragged right)
  • Align text right in right-to-left languages (flush right, ragged left)
  • Break text into columns, rather than making long lines


  • Overlong sentences
  • Long paragraphs
  • Starting a new sentence at the very end of a line
  • Glossy paper which can increase glare
  • Unnecessary use of capitals
  • Flimsy paper that allow overleaf text to show through
  • Unnecessary hyphenation

British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Dyslexia Style Guide:

If there is a choice between several publications or editions then this list can help identify the most suitable material for persons with dyslexia. When producing your own material (such as an information folder, a leaflet in print or texts for your website), use this list.

Top tips for creating dyslexia friendly print materials:

Easy-to-read materials

In 2010 IFLA published the second (revised) edition of the Guidelines for easy-to-read materials (Professional report, 120).
Some pointers for easy-to-read materials or adaptations:

  • Avoid abstraction: be short, simple, concise and concrete
  • Action should be direct and simple
  • The action should follow a single thread with logical continuity
  • Use symbolic language (metaphors) sparingly
  • Avoid difficult words but use language that is adult and dignified
  • Explain unusual words through context clues
  • Explain or describe complicated relationships in a concrete and logical manner
  • Use a logical chronological framework to order the events
  • Test the material with actual target groups before it goes to press

An excellent rule of thumb is to write as if you were retelling the story face-to-face with your reader.

Simplicity does not have to be patronising. A well-made book in simple language can be a positive reading experience for everyone.

How to integrate DAISY talking books

In many countries, libraries for persons with print disabilities offer online services to readers to download or listen to DAISY talking books. DAISY books cannot be bought on the commercial market and have a historic association with visually impaired persons and this sometimes makes them hard to promote as a public library service. However, DAISY talking books have applications for many different kinds of readers and offer superior functionality to many types of commercial audio books.

  • If available, DAISY talking books are the perfect choice when providing a talking book service to persons with dyslexia.
  • Develop a lending service of DAISY talking books by joining forces with your national library for print disabled persons e.g. all public libraries in Sweden include DAISY books as part of their regular service.
  • If possible, promote DAISY books as downloads on mobile phones or portable MP3 players with DAISY playback software (such as the Read2Go app).
  • DAISY playback software can be downloaded for free:

Drawbacks of digital text

There are some drawbacks in using digital or electronic files to meet the needs of persons with dyslexia. Here are the more obvious:
It is not always possible to obtain a digital file that contains the full text of the work.

  • Digital files may be protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) to prevent unauthorized copying which may block the Text-to-Speech application.
  • Creating digital text from a printed book is difficult, time consuming and runs the risk of misspellings through faulty optical character recognition [OCR].
  • Reading text on a PC screen is often associated with learning or work, not with leisure reading. This does not apply for reading on a tablet.

For more detailed information on the accessibility of electronic files see the Eu Internet Handbook and


Many eBooks can also be used on the TFT/LCD screens of a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, but they require a special application such as Adobe Digital Edition or iBook for reading, and, in many cases, unlocking the digital protection measure. When reading eBooks on laptops or tablets more functionality can be added to the reading experience through using color, audio, and/or moving pictures/videos. Adding these multimedia layers on top of the digital text can increase the accessibility of the multimedia eBook. The EPUB standard (co-developed with the DAISY Consortium) is exemplary in specifying the accessibility issues that publishers and producers of accessible files are facing.

Protection measures for eBooks
The protection measures that publishers or booksellers take to avoid illegal copying can have an impact on the way that eBooks can be read. For instance, eBooks bought through Amazon can only be read using the Kindle, and eBooks bought through iBook Store can only be enjoyed by using iBooks. Most booksellers do not change the eBook file to their own proprietary format, but many do develop their own applications (and apps) to secure sales and to tie in the customer to their stores. It is often difficult (if not impossible) to extract the eBook file from the app and copy it to a reading device of choice.

Can libraries lend eBooks?
Just as publishers struggle to find the best business model to sell eBooks, so libraries struggle (mostly with the publishers) to find the best way to lend eBooks to their users. In most countries eBooks are not included in the copyright exceptions that allow libraries to add printed books to their lending collections. However, in cases where the eBook file is converted into an accessible version of an otherwise inaccessible work libraries can use the disabled users’ copyright exception to lawfully distribute it to readers with dyslexia.

Examples of DAISY multimedia books

  • Yoleo is a Dutch website where young people can interact with full multimedia DAISY books, created and operated by Dedicon
  • DAISY multimedia textbooks are provided to pupils with dyslexia from elementary and junior high school by the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities in cooperation with volunteer DAISY production organizations

Last update:  29 Jan, 2020