JKP rolls out first dyslexia-friendly industry guidelines

JKP rolls out first dyslexia-friendly industry guidelines

Jessica Kingsley Publishers is to release the first guidelines for producing dyslexia-friendly texts and workplaces in the industry. 

It comes as awareness around dyslexia-friendly publishing comes to the fore, with Anthony McGowan's Lark winning the CILIP prize this year, published by dyslexic-friendly specialist and children's press Barrington Stoke. 

Written in association with Hachette UK's Accessibility Network and consultation with the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), the guide outlines changes that can be implemented by publishers to make books and the workplace acessible for those with learning difficulties. 

A spokesperson at Hachette confirmed the publisher plans to "cascad[e] these guidelines through all managers at Hachette so that staff are aware, and so movements can be made in a direction to celebrate diversity and inclusion".

The guidelines include suggestions for dyslexia-friendly formatting and design, commissioning, and office layout. Fonts are advised to be sans serif, printed on cream paper with generous line spacing and a large font. Book cover designers are advised to "keep text horizontal", and to "avoid visually cluttered covers". Instructive non-fiction should include short paragraphs, subheadings, bulletpoints and clear visuals. 

"The world of books can be challenging for dyslexic people to access, and I am proud that we're the first publisher to create guidelines to address this," said Amy Lankester-Owen, senior commissioning editor for dyslexia and specific learning difficulty resources at JKP. "There are some very simple things we can do to make books more readable for dyslexics and other neurodiverse individuals, such as avoiding fussy fonts with serifs, and changing the line justification on the page."

In the workplace, meetings should be accompanied by visuals to minimise notetaking, and followed up by clear action points. Digital materials should ensure clear navigation, and where possible allow an audio option for e-books and web platforms. Search boxes for key words and content are advised, along with avoiding green, red and pink colour schemes, as these are difficult for colour-blind individuals. 

Gillian Ashley, interim c.e.o. of BDA, said: "It is very exciting that a mainstream publisher is committing to taking these principles on board and awareness raising around dyslexia-friendly publishing. Reading is a crucial life skill and it is important the world of books is accessible for dyslexic people." 

JKP has a dedicated reading list for neurodiverse readers, which includes Alais Winton's Fun and Games for Children with Dyslexia, and Margaret Rooke's Dyslexia is My Superpower (Most of the Time). In September, the press is also releasing The Bigger Picture Book of Amazing Dyslexics by Kate Power and Kathy Forsyth.