Can You Read This? New Font Mimics Difficulty for Dyslexics
Can you imagine what it's like to struggle to read this page? Now you can. Dan Britton, a graphic designer and dyslexic, has designed a font that helps non-dyslexics see what it's like to have the debilitating disorder.
According to Wikipedia, "Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by trouble reading despite a normal intelligence. Different people are affected to different degrees. Problems may include sounding out words, spelling words, reading quickly, writing words, pronouncing words when reading aloud, and understanding what was read. The difficulties are not voluntary and people with this disorder have a normal desire to learn." One study suggests 6% to 17% of the school-age population suffers from the disability to some degree.
Britton created this typeface to mimic the experience of reading with dyslexia, removing approximately 40% of each letter.
According to a review by PBS, dyslexia isn't so much about how people see letters; it's more related to sounding them out, with something called "weak phonemic awareness". Dyslexics are often very smart with strong vocabularies.
10 Ways to Design a Font for Dyslexics
It's one thing to try to visualize the difficulty dyslexics have reading. What about designing a font that makes it easier for dyslexics to read in the first place? A number of font designers have tackled the challenge. Here is some material from the site dyslexiefont.com, which provides these 10 great insights into font design.
1. By lowering the letters' 'center of gravity', a dyslexic is less likely to see the letters upside down. Next to one another, the heavier underside gives the letters a baseline.
2. By enlarging the openings in the letters, they are clarified and made more distinctive, making them more easily recognizable.
3. Some letters are slightly slanted to increase the differences between 'twin' letters.
4. Additional modifications have been made to letters which tend to look alike, for example by adjusting their shape or tail. This decreases the chance of mirroring them.
5. Jumbling of letters is prevented by giving certain letters a longer descender.
6. By slightly bolding capital letters and punctuation, a reader will be less likely to miss the point where one sentence ends and a new one begins.
7. By giving similar looking letters differing heights, they each have their own character and are less likely to be confused.
8. By increasing a letter's height but not its width, the letter is allowed to 'breathe'. This makes individual letters easier to recognize.
9. Differing heights within the letter makes them easier to distinguish.
10. Increasing the space between letters and between words counteracts the crowding effect.