The first dyslexia friendly Gospel

1 in 10 people in Britain has dyslexia and struggles to read, especially the thin, crowded pages of a Bible. But last year we released a dyslexia-friendly version of Mark’s Gospel. Find out what difference it’s made to one curate living with dyslexia…

‘The Bible is off-putting to read,’ says curate, Revd Mark Wilson. ‘But it’s God’s word, so I strive on.’

Mark’s struggles with the Bible aren’t necessarily theological. He finds it hard to read because, like one in ten of the British public, he’s dyslexic.

This manifests itself differently for everyone. But for Mark, it means that patterns appear between the words, and that ‘words don’t look like words’ he says. So Mark was delighted when we published a dyslexia-friendly Gospel of Mark.

The best format for a dyslexia-friendly text

Over several months we took advice from a group of dyslexic people and the British Dyslexic Association to produce a book that most people could read.

It has thick, creamy pages, preventing the text from showing through. The typeface is clear and the size is larger than a normal Bible.

Sentences and paragraphs are short. The columns of text are much wider than a standard Bible, but narrower than in a novel.

The difference made to readers

‘It’s really clear to read,’ says Mark who took up the role of curate at St Thomas’ Church, Kidsgrove, in the Lichfield Diocese, last summer. ‘I really liked it. When are you doing the complete Bible?’

Mark says that the new gospel doubled the amount that he was able to read. ‘Reading is often tiring,’ he says, ‘so normally when I read the Bible before bed, I read about a chapter. With this, I can read two chapters.’

Mark struggled to read the Bible when he first became a Christian, but persevered because he thought, ‘This was God speaking to us. How can you miss an opportunity like that?’

Helping many access the Bible

But not everyone has that drive and motivation and he believes the dyslexia-friendly Gospel of Mark will be an easy-to-read option for today’s teenagers living with dyslexia.

‘I think it will be really useful to be able to give this to dyslexic children. It’s so much easier to read. I can tell them how it’s helped me,’ he adds.

Matthew Van Duyvenbode, Bible Society’s Director of External Relations, Advocacy and Research, said, ‘It’s easy to think that everyone in Britain has access to the Scriptures. Sadly that simply isn’t true.

‘One of the reasons is that the Bible is a hugely difficult book for people with dyslexia to read. Clearly, we want to change that.’

‘We’re hugely encouraged by the early responses to this book. People are telling us that they’ve wanted this for years and asking when we’re going to do the whole Bible.

‘We don’t know the answer to that one yet, but we really hope that the Gospel of Mark opens up part of the Bible to a whole sector of our community who couldn’t read it before.’

You can buy a copy of the dyslexia-friendly Gospel of Mark for £3.99

This article first appeared in our Winter 2015 issue of Word in Action. It has been updated for this web article.

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