Posts Tagged ‘Accessibility’

News from the Exciting World of Fonts

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

We love fonts.

Maybe not as much as ABC’s The Middle character Brick Heck, who created his very own podcast devoted to fonts (or should we say, “fontcast”). But when we saw that fonts were in the news, actual real mainstream news, we couldn’t help but notice that our heart rate increased ever so slightly and our palms started to get clammy. Yes, we became excited.

In case you missed it, Christian Boer, a 33 year old Dutch designer and a graduate of Utrecht Art academy in the Netherlands, has introduced a “Dyslexie,” a font designed to help those who suffer from dyslexia, a condition he himself has.

Those with dyslexia often subconsciously mirror, switch, or rotate letters and numbers when they read. The International Dyslexia Association believes that up to ten percent of the global population suffers from dyslexia. Interestingly enough, the Cass Business School in London conducted a study and discovered that a significantly higher cross section of entrepreneurs, 35%, show signs of dyslexia.

Dyslexia certainly makes reading a challenging task, especially when traditional typefaces base letter designs for an entire alphabet on only a handful of shapes. So Boer created his alphabet in a way that helps prevent errors. For instance, he varied the width of strokes, making them thicker at the bottom and narrower at the top. He discarded traditional curves and “pinched” them to prevent readers from mistaking the letter “b” for the letter “d.” Capital letters at the beginning of sentences and punctuation marks are bolder when compared to other characters to more obviously flag pauses in reading.

And the font works. According to the Dyslexie website, two studies conducted by the University of Amsterdam show that 84.3% of Dyslexie users report they can read faster and 77.8% report making fewer errors when using the font.

The question becomes, will business adopt Dyslexie to make print and digital collateral more easily read by those who are affected by such a common disorder (especially considering the increased incidences among entrepreneurs)? If so, will we see the rise of additional typefaces that also enhance readability for dyslexics to provide more variety to designers?

We’re interested to see what the future holds for Dyslexie and how it might be integrated with traditional typefaces in the design world. But remember, in the words of fontanista Brick Heck: “any more than three fonts in the same document, you’re just showing off.”