Our approach to text assessment springs from reflections in several areas of reading research.

The many layers of lexical knowledge

Reading research tells us that "to know a word" one must make connections between many stimuli, including sound, meaning, and the visual shape of letters, clusters and words. These connections are themselves "tunable", and sensitive to practice. As the brain encounters stimuli in regular patterns, the neural networks become increasingly more efficient. Truly, the best way to become a good reader is simply, to read!

It follows then, that since words have various processing loads in the brain, we can assume that texts themselves have their own texture or topography. If a text's topography could be observed in some way, we might gain useful knowledge about language which could, among other things, help us arrive at more accessible, or "readable" texts.

Observing a text's "Topography"

While any number of sophisticated techniques might be pursued to estimate brain activity while reading, we have aimed at simple, cost-effective approaches, which arguably could be performed even with pen and paper. Two such techniques which have already shown promise are the "Eye-Voice Span" (EVS) technique, and Inter-Reader Fluency Analysis" (IRFA).

The IRFA technique, takes its inspiration from Kenneth Goodman's "Miscue Analysis" technique, which underscores the value of information gained from disfluent readings of a text, the essential difference being that in the case of IRFA, the goal is to examine the text rather than the reader. IRFA depends on data from new readers. The EVS technique, on the other hand, can function even with fluent readers.


Bailey, Troy. 2005. Inter-Reader Fluency Analysis (IRFA): a topographical approach to text assessment for emergent readers. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Hyderabad, India.