Your Subtitle text


Contact for PDF of Readability Levels
Click for PowerPoint of Automaticity


Readability Levels for Online Instruction:

Making Accessibility Work


Jeri Stickney Phillips

Purpose of the Study

            The purpose of this study will be to improve accessibility for students in online courses. Readability levels will be examined in online lecture documents to determine how readability may affect student comprehension and self-efficacy. Hypertext will also be examined to determine how hypertext and readability levels may affect student comprehension and self-efficacy.

Research Questions


1. How will comprehension and self-efficacy change when readability levels are different in online lecture documents for middle school, secondary, and post secondary students?

            2. How will comprehension and self-efficacy change when hypertext is embedded in online lecture documents for middle school, secondary, and post secondary students?

Literature Review

This literature survey contains five intertwined, thematic components:

1.      Accessibility

2.      Readability

3.      Hypertext

4.      Cognitive Load

5.      Self-Efficacy


Acrey, C., Johnstone, C., & Milligan, C. (2005). Using universal design to unlock the potential for academic achievement of at-risk learners. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(2), 22-31.

Anderson, R. C., Hiebert, E. H., & Wilkinson, A. G. (1985). Summary of becoming a nation of readers. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

Bailey, B. (2002). Readability formulas and writing for the web.   Retrieved February 18, 2008, from

Bernard, M. L., Chaparro, B. S., Mills, M. M., & Halcomb, C. G. (2002). Examining children's reading performance and preference for different computer-displayed text. Behaviour & Information Technology, 21(2), 87-96.

Burns, B. (2006). I don't have to count syllables on my fingers anymore: Easier ways to find readability and level books. Illinois Reading Council Journal, 34(1), 34-40.

Chapman, T. G. (2001). A comparison of literacy and readability in the Extended Institutes of Religion program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Unpublished Ed.D., University of Wyoming, United States -- Wyoming.

Chavkin, L. (1997). Readability and reading ease revisited: State-adopted science textbooks. Clearing House, 70(3), 151.

Cunningham, P. (1984). The great readability debate. Educational Leadership, 41(7), 84.

Der-Thanq, C., Wong, A. F. L., & Jackie Jing-Fong Hsu, A. F. L. (2003). Internet-based instructional activities: Not everything should be on the internet. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(1), 50-59.

Edward, F. (2002). Readability versus leveling. The Reading Teacher, 56(3), 286.

Fitzgerald, J. L., & Watkins, M. W. (2006). Parents' rights in special education: The readability of procedural safeguards. Exceptional Children, 72(4), 497-510.

Forbes, J. D. (2002). Bridging the second digital divide: Readability of news Web sites. Unpublished M.A., California State University, Fresno, United States -- California.

Fry, E. (2002). Readability versus leveling. Reading Teacher, 56(3), 286.

Kibble, R., & Power, R. (2004). Optimizing referential coherence in text generation. Computational Linguistics, 30(4), 401-416.

Matching books to students: How to use readability formulas and continuous monitoring to ensure reading success. (2007). Renaissance Learning   Retrieved February 18, 2008, from

Mayeaux Jr, E. J., & Murphy, P. W. (1996). Improving patient education for patients with low literacy skills. American Family Physician, 53(1), 205.

Oakland, T., & Lane, H. B. (2004). Language, reading, and readability formulas: Implications for developing and adapting tests. International Journal of Testing, 4(3), 239-252.

Sperling, R. A. (2006). Assessing reading materials for students who are learning disabled. Intervention in School & Clinic, 41(3), 138-143.

Spinks, N., & Wells, B. (1993). Readability: A textbook selection criterion. Journal of Education for Business, 69(2), 83.

Stevens, A. B., McDaniel, K. S., Glover, E. D., & Wallace, L. S. (2007). Are instructions for over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products readable? American Journal of Health Behavior, 31, S79-S84.

Subbaram, V. M. (2004). Effect of display and text parameters on reading performance. Unpublished Ph.D., The Ohio State University, United States -- Ohio.

Using universal design to unlock the potential for academic achievement of at-risk learners. (2005). Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(2), 22-31.

Venable, G. P. (2003). Readability case study and scenarios. Topics in Language Disorders, 23(3), 248-251.

Walker, S., Schloss, P., Fletcher, C. R., Vogel, C. A., & Walker, R. C. (2005). Visual-syntactictext formatting: A new method to enhance online reading. Reading Online, 17-37.

Wallace, L. S., Roskos, S. E., & Weiss, B. D. (2006). Readability characteristics of consumer medication information for asthma inhalation devices. Journal of Asthma, 43(5), 375-378.

Walsh North, R. (2003). Fostering inclusive online learning environments for students with disabilities in higher education. Unpublished M.Ed., Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada), Canada.

Wenzel, T. H. (2000). The effects of technology on the literacy growth of students with pervasive developmental disorder or dyslexia. Unpublished M.S., University of Houston-Clear Lake, United States -- Texas.

Whitlock, G. H. (1969). Automated readability index. Training & Development Journal, 23(1), 54.

Wimberly, L., Reed, N., & Morris, M. (2004). Postsecondary students with learning disabilities: Barriers to accessing education-based information technology.   Retrieved November 22, 2007, from

Wisdom, J. P., White, N. A., Goldsmith, K. A., Bielavitz, S., Davis, C. E., & Drum, C. (2006). An assessment of web accessibility knowledge and needs at Oregon Community Colleges. Community College Review, 33(3/4), 19-37.



Web Hosting Companies