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Eye Movements In Reading

When your eyes move across a line of print, they move in a series of quick movements broken by very brief pauses. The movements are called "saccades." They are so fast that you are not aware of them. Your brain manages to blank out whatever signals come from your eyes during these saccadic movements. You are only aware of what you see during the pauses.

You aren't even really aware of the pauses, so it is easy to believe that your eyes move smoothly across the page. But if you watch another person read you can clearly see the quick jerky movements.

What you probably can't do, because they are so quick, is to count the movements. The pauses, which are called "fixations," last only one-quarter to one-fifth of a second.

The normal beginner reader makes an average of two fixations per word or, in other words, sees or recognizes less than one whole word at each fixation. This statistic was determined by photographing the reading of over a thousand first graders with The Reading Eye, a camera made especially for this purpose. Each child read a selection of approximately 100 words. During the reading the average child made 224 fixations, about two fixations per word or an eye span of .45 of a word. This average span of recognition increases very slowly to 1.11, or slightly more than one word per fixation, for normal college students at an average speed of 280 words per minute. The average number of words seen at each fixation does not reach one whole word until the eleventh grade.

A dyslexic person or poor reader will be inclined to pause more often for fixations, and the duration of each fixation will also be longer than that of the typical reader.

Another important difference between good and poor readers lies in regressive movements. All of us move our eyes backwards from time to time in reading. Poor readers do it more often than good readers, but there is a further difference: Good readers know where to regress to. They go back to the beginnings of phrases and sentences, and they can pick out important and difficult passages to reread (because that is what regressive movements amount to). Poor readers just move their eyes back because they don't understand what they have just read.

Another difference between skilled and unskilled readers is in the return movement. Return movements occur when you move your eyes from one line of print to the next. Good readers make a single, clean movement from the end of one line of print to the beginning of the next. Poor readers overshoot or undershoot, so they have to make corrections to find the beginning of the line.

Audiblox Reduces Fixations and Regressions

Since it's inception, the Audiblox program has shown to successfully reduce fixations and regressions, thereby increasing reading speed.

Example 1: The reading graph of Werner, who was severely dyslexic:

Before Werner started with Audiblox at the time he was in 10th grade his reading efficiency was assessed at the Technikon Pretoria by means of an ophthalmograph (also called an eye-camera). It was found to be equal to that of a 2nd grade child. This meant that his reading ability was about ten years behind his chronological age. His eyes fixated 164 times and regressed 36 times with every one hundred words of reading. His reading speed was only 107 words per minute.

Five months later, after working faithfully according to a customized Audiblox program for two half-hour sessions per day, five days per week, Werner's reading efficiency was retested. It then equaled a 9th grade level. The number of fixations dropped to 37 and regressions to three. His reading speed was now 163 words per minute.

Six months after this second reading test, Werner's reading efficiency was tested once again and found to be equal to a 2nd year college level. His eyes now fixated only 37 times in one hundred words. The number of regressions, already low, remained the same. He could now read 230 words per minute. This means that, in less than one year, Werner's reading efficiency level improved by twelve years.

The test results of Werner are presented below. The solid line represents the first reading test on 9 March 1990, the thin dashed line the retest on 5 August 1990, and the thick dashed line the second retest on 12 February 1991:

Diagram

Example 2: The reading graph of a 4th grade student, who did a 10-day intensive Audiblox course:

Diagram

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