Skip to content

Chapter 3

Leave space around numbers

Last updated on

#The numbers don’t look the same

For people with Irlen syndrome, numbers and words appear distorted. Numbers look fuzzy, backward or in the wrong order. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between numbers and letters, like the number 7 and the letter L.

Focusing on the shapes of numbers is hard when numbers are covered by other content, like words, images, pop ups and anything else. 

When numbers are obscured, people struggle to understand and remember them. The number could be a booking reference number, an emergency telephone number, or information about a medical appointment. 

The NHS says that the main reasons for people not attending outpatient appointments are:

  • unclear, inaccessible or incorrect appointment information

  • difficulties cancelling or rearranging their appointment

  • no recent reminders for appointments booked years before

Leaving space around numbers helps people easily pick out the shape of numbers. Skim readers do this too

#Reading when you’re stressed

Everyday situations might be stressful for people with dyscalculia, maths anxiety or low numeracy, like: 

  • arranging medical appointments

  • paying for something 

  • organising travel 

  • logging into an important service, like banking 

  • playing games

Leaving space around numbers helps people when reading fast or skim reading. 

We make more mistakes when we’re stressed. You should let people make mistakes when entering numbers