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Testing the Readability of Online Content on Autism Spectrum Disorders

Authors
  • Kollia, Betty1
  • Basch, Corey H.2
  • Kamowski-Shakibai, Margaret T.3
  • Tsiamtsiouris, Jim1
  • Garcia, Philip2
  • 1 William Paterson University, Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences, Wayne, NJ, 07470, USA , Wayne (United States)
  • 2 William Paterson University, Department of Public Health, Wayne, NJ, 07470, USA , Wayne (United States)
  • 3 Marymount Manhattan College, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, New York, NY, 10021, USA , New York (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Feb 09, 2019
Volume
3
Issue
1
Pages
85–90
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s41252-019-0095-7
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

ObjectivesThe incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children has been increasing steadily in the USA. The material that is available online is not always reader-friendly and may leave readers unclear on their questions. Considering the prevalence of ASD in the USA and the general population’s limited reading abilities, the purpose of this study was to discern the degree to which articles posted online are readable at the recommended grade level.MethodsA search was conducted with the key words “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” The first 100 websites that met this criterion were included in the analyses. Along with the readability tests, the websites’ extensions were recorded. The URLs were input into an automatic readability score generator. Several readability tests were performed: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Gunning Fog Index (GFI), Coleman-Liau Index (CLI), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Grade Level, and Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease (FRE).ResultsGroup 1 (websites with extensions .org, .gov, .edu) had better readability scores compared to Group 2 (.com, .net, or other: .ca, .int, .uk, .us) for six of the nine tests, suggesting that websites with URL extensions .org, .gov, and .edu are easier to read compared to others (.com, .net, etc.).ConclusionsOverall, the results indicated that the readability level of the information online on ASD is substantially higher than recommended. Simpler writing would permit a larger part of the general population to access useful information, thereby increasing the potential to help with early identification of young children with ASD and help families.

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