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DyslexicTypography

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DyslexicTypography

  1. 1. 17:610:586 The history of the book. Dyslexic Font: How Can We Make This All Work? By Kayla Lappino List of figures figure 1 Dyslexie Aspect 1 figure 2 Dyslexie Aspect 2 figure 3 Dyslexie Aspect 3 figure 4 Dyslexie Aspect 4 figure 5 Dyslexie Aspect 5 figure 6 Dyslexie Aspect 6 figure 7 Dyslexie Aspect 7 figure 8 Dyslexie Aspect 8
  2. 2. 1 figure 9 Dyslexie Aspect 9 figure 10 OpenDyslevia Font Introduction In our day-to-day life we rarely think about the impact font has on her ability to read and understand text. We don't consider that the size, shape, thickness or even spacing could make it easier or harder to read. Your average person of average reading ability looks at a sign, or paper, or book and doesn't think twice about what the font looks like. Now take someone who has a reading related disability like dyslexia and the concern over font may be more in the forefront of their thoughts. Dyslexic readers are more aware of the way in which text is presented to them due to the fact that they have a difficulty in decoding it. As someone with dyslexia I am curious in what ways typographers are trying to make the using experience easier on the dyslexic reader. What is it about current font styles that make them
  3. 3. 2 difficult for dyslexic readers? How can font style be improved to make it more legible for dyslexic readers? What are the options available dyslexic readers in regards to access to font styles that make reading easier? It is my intention to look at the font available for dyslexic readers and evaluate how helpful they are. I plan on looking at available feedback from others dyslexics but primarily focusing on my own opinion as a dyslexic.It is title for a dyslexic to not only have options but be aware of whether not the options are good. I want other dyslexics to know what is out there as far as what they can use to improve their reading ability and that our needs are finally being heard. Background Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects the reader's ability to decode written language. The severity of this decoding issue with the various from individual to individual. An abundance of research has been done on the cognitive aspects of dyslexia. The majority of researchers are focusing primarily on what causes the breakdown in a dyslexics translation and how to diagnose someone with dyslexia. An over abundance of research is focused primarily on children with dyslexia and less so on the adults. I personally had a very unique experience with the diagnostic process for my dyslexia. I was diagnosed with dyslexia part way through fifth grade, however for some unknown reason my family and I were not informed of my diagnosis until I was in 11th grade. As a result of the strange nature of my diagnosis I can understand how wanting to find out how to help the children before they reach adulthood is important. Though I have a mild case of dyslexia my personal
  4. 4. 3 reading ability could be on par with the average individual if I had gotten help I needed when I was younger. I may understand the reason for the focus in research but that does not mean that I don't firmly believe other areas don't need just as much attention. Simply understanding why or how a dyslexic individual is unable to decode text information does not mean that you will be able to help them in the future. As I tried to find information on how researchers may have been looking into dyslexic font I was saddened at by the lack I found. I found little to no articles or journals or anything talking about it. I found one useful article talking about the spacing between the letters of a font and how letter crowding can affect reading. "Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia" by Marco Zorzi and others, However this article primarily referred to personal adjustments for the average dyslexic and not a permanent font solution. “Overall, our results showed that extra large letter spacing provides an efficient way to improve text reading performance on the fly... This finding is consistent with our hypothesis that the manipulation of spacing influences the letter identification stage, which is assumed to be identical across the different alphabetical linkages." Though the information revealed by this article is very important to the dyslexic reader it is not a font based on their needs, but merely more of a trick they can use to make their life easier if it's an online format that their reading. There needs to be more of an understanding of the visual aspect involved in dyslexics reading various fonts. Most font types focus more on unitary function and not understanding the minorities role in the world. I find font types and their theoretical views that are more image-
  5. 5. 4 based tend to lend themselves more towards the point of view of someone approaching dyslexic font. Dyslexie There is a font type designed by Dutch designer Christian Boer that is specifically designed for dyslexic readers. Boer was a graphic design student who also suffers from dyslexia. He created his font type Dyslexie in 2008 as his graduation project from HKU University. He sends his new fonts to various dyslexic individuals gather feedback in order to refine it. Once he was happy with how the font turned out he made it available online. Very quickly it became very popular among the dyslexic community. It became so popular that the price for keeping the sight open was to much to be able to keep the fonts free. So he began to license the font within the year. Primarily the majority of its initial acclaim and popularity was in the Netherlands where it originated. As the years went by the fonts began to branch out into various media. Now the Dyslexie font can be found in various online formats such as e-books, educational apps, and various reading and writing related products. According to the website, dyslexiefont.com, the most notable things to happen this year involving the fonts is that there were 1000 books added using the fonts and the one of those books where is the diary of Anne Frank. Boer’s Website is quite remarkable. It is jampacked with information on every aspect of the font that you might want to know. It also has information about everywhere you can find the font being used. It also has information about how to freely download a personal copy or
  6. 6. 5 purchase a mass use copy. This website was an abundance of information and my primary source for all information related to the font itself. Boer gave a TEDxDubai talk In which he goes over his general creation of the font type and some of the goals he was trying to achieve. In the video he points out some of the common reasons why dyslexics have issues with font types he used the example of Helvetica in pointing out the issues. He refers to how the letters are very uniform and have very little difference between them. He also points out how there's a lot of recycled shapes and designs in the typeface. He goes on to give examples of specific letters that look similar were are in fact the same merely turned or rotated. The general impression he gives is that Helvetica, which is the most predominant typeface and considered the most calming and blends into the world around us, possesses just about everything that makes reading font difficult for dyslexics. Both in the video and on the website for the font there is a nine point breakdown of the various aspects of the fonts that have been designed to achieve certain level differentiation for the dyslexic reader. I will go through each of these points accounting Boer's reasonings and my personal opinions on these aspects. The first aspect of the font in figure 1 Boer indicates the fact that he made of the letters bottom heavy. Overall the lower portion of each letter is thicker than the upper portion of the letter. He says this is to prevent flipping letters upside down. The overall weight of a letter can have some affect on how the letter is perceived. In the case where letters like p and b can look at virtually the same just flaps having all the letters of with a noticeable weight at the bottom can prevent that mixup. In the letter p the weights would be at the base of the line where as in the letter b the weight would be at the base of the curve and the bottom tip of the line. This aspect of the letter design I feel does in fact achieve its overarching goal.
  7. 7. 6 (Figure 1) The next point Boer refers to as slanted parts as seen in figure 2. He endeavors to add more variety to aspects of letters that would still be seen as similar even after weighing down the bottom of letter. He does this by adjusting some aspects using slanting or what you might refer to as italicizing. In regards to letters like lowercase b and d this is necessary. Letter something not only occur vertically but also horizontally. For me personally letters I most commonly flip are b and d so this aspect of the font I personally find the most appealing. The fact that this lands go in a direction that would make flipping them seem all I did further helps the differentiation. For example on the b the slant occurs on the upper side of the curve whereas in the the slant occurs on the lower side. So if you were to flip the letter the slant would be in the wrong location. A dyslexic reader would register to differences in the letters to the point where they would inflict it because they would register that the letters are significantly different. (figure 2) The third aspect of the fonts seen in figure 3 is Boer gave the letters bigger openings. This is to get the letters more "breathing room" as he says. Every aspect of this font is to further
  8. 8. 7 make each letter more unique. I can see how this could help with some letters that a dyslexic might confuse. if the opening the letters too small or condensed they could confuse it with others. For example if the opening of a C is too small they might register it as an O by mistake. I don't think this aspect of the font has as big of an impact as some of the others I've discussed so far but every little bit helps in the grand scheme of things. (figure 3) Next up we have other aspects of the letter that can be easily viewed as duplicates like general vertical lines. In this figure 4 Boer implemented small variations in these lines per letter. This is to prevent confusion of double letters. This is another aspect that is small but yet important. When it comes to letters like i, j, and l they can look very similar and get mixed up. I personally depending on the font type will have issues with i and l also the capitalization may affect the confusion. This yet again is a thoughtful and efficient allocation to make the fonts even a better for dyslexics. (figure 4)
  9. 9. 8 On Boer’s web site he describes this aspect as such “By lengthening the ascender and descender of the letters, the difference is emphasized and it is easier to see them as unique letterforms". This is further taking what we know of as the existing letter and stretching it into a shape that makes it even more unique. The stretching can be seen in figure 5. The most common theme with every aspect of this font is it needs to make it more unique. If a factor in the font doesn't lend itself to meet the font more unique it will not help dyslexic readers. (figure 5) It is important when reading that you can tell when a sentence begins when a sentence ends. In figure 6 Boer shows an aspect of the font that is meant to make this easier. By making punctuation and capital letters larger and older than all the other letters visually the dyslexic will be able to more easily pick out beginnings and ends of sentences. This is a key factor in reading so I find this aspect of the font to be largely important. Often when reading I barely even notice punctuation and capitalization so having a font designed to draw my attention to these facts seems very beneficial to me. (figure 6)
  10. 10. 9 In many fonts the tips and peaks of letters with similar structures tended to be even make it even harder to tell them apart. As seen in figure 7 Boer changes the height of various points of individual letters so they are no longer the same. The one glance for the average reader the difference may not be noticeable for a dyslexic it can mean the difference between the mixing up a V and a W while reading a given statement. I personally don't often have this particular issue but many dyslexics do and so I the value in this aspect of the fonts. It just further goes towards the goal of making every letter unique. (figure 7) Boer Explains it best "by increasing the X axis of letters the spaces in the letters are consequently increased. This makes the letters easier to recognize" once more varieties key. In my opinion the effect of this aspect of the font, seen in figure 8 isn't much different than the effect that I described in figure 5. Once again we are taking the letter and stretching or working yet in some way to make it more unique. I personally think the similarities between what is done in figure 5 and what is done in figure eights are too much the same and so having both might not get the font much more variety. Thus with this particular aspect of font I think it is redundant and provides nothing new to the typeface. In my opinion it probably could be dropped from explanation on the website or in his general talks about it.
  11. 11. 10 (figure 8) Finally in figure 9 Boer has decided to widen the space between the letters themselves and the words. The spacing between letters and words is a bit more well researched I think. There is a paper entitled "extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia" that looks at how spacing between letters can be beneficial to dyslexics while reading. “A second, complementary approach is to focus on the accessibility of the reading material by manipulating the physical properties of print(e.g. print size, font type, etc). However, very little research has investigated the potential effects of such manipulation. Here, we pursue this approach, which is a motivated by behavioral evidence showing that dyslexics are abnormally affected by crowding a perpetual phenomenon with detrimental effects on letter recognition that is modulated by the spacing between letters." (Zorzi 11455). As a results it is no surprise that having this covered in this fun type which came out before the specific paper I referenced would be beneficial. I have often looked up an article or paper of some sort online and instantly the closeness of the letters made my head hurt and my eyes squinted up and I felt as though I was being physically pained. The level of concentration and decoding the have to go into separating out the letters the freaky to find out what they are is probably one of the bigger issues faced by dyslexic readers
  12. 12. 11 (figure 9) My overall view and opinion of the Dyslexie font is it is a masterful creation that takes an account the difficulties that its target audience faces. Yes in general all typography thinks about the use of the letter forms, however the ability of individuals who are dyslexic or have other reading disabilities never comes into account in the general day-to-day construction. The fact that not only did Boer think about all these aspects, but go on to explain step-by-step why he did. what he did helps not only dyslexics but not dyslexics understand why this font is useful and special. As to not be the only voice on this particular fonts I'd like to include some feedback I found on Dyslexie website “Well I just wanted to say I was dubious but then I tried to read using it in the examples and while it worked, I stopped using all the defaults copying mechanisms that I have developed over my life and when using the fonts and found that I could scan of read, it was almost twice as fast as I usually read and I was like argh I need this point." “I am 42 years old and I knew that I always have problems reading and keeping focused without any distractions. However once I saw your fonts I was completely free. It was like a breath of fresh air that had been let loose. I cannot tell you how much your research has opened my eyes to how I read it and other people read." OpenDyslexic
  13. 13. 12 In my search for more dyslexic based fonts I came across a site called opendyslexia it is a open source free downloadable dyslexic font. It endeavors to create a fun type that dyslexic readers can use easily. Just like Dyslexei the letters are given variety. Unlike the previous font type the official websites provides little information about. There is camps for the information but all aspects of the website aside from the main page are down and have been every time I've gone there to look at it. After doing some digging I was able to determine that the original creator was Albelardo Gonzalez a New Hampshire-based mobile app designer. The old one of the aspects of it being an open source is that anyone can contribute to making it better by using the Glyphs Or the source material on Glthub. I was disappointed that I couldn't learn as much about this typeface as I did about the previous one. I also found the fact that stand the point of view of why this individual was doing what they were doing made me trust the font less. Having a point by point description does a lot for one's belief in a thing. From what I have seen of the typeface seen in figure 10 I can determine some of the aspects that were used to make the letters more varied. The first is letter weight. Though what part of the letter is weighed heavier than the others is not 100% certain it appears to be bottom heavy. Though looking at it it easier to see that the lowercase letters is bottom heavy the uppercase letters are a little more difficult to pinpoint but also appeared to be bottom heavy. The varying weight and thickness of various aspects of the letters seems to go from being very sick your the bottom to very thin near the top.
  14. 14. 13 (figure 10) Next I noticed that there is a notable difference between b and d in the fact that the d has a tail but the b does not. There are few other instances of similar looking letters having an extra little number two them to differentiate them from their possible twin. This is also seen in the p and q. All of these are things that I have previously gone over that make the letters more unique and easier to read. I wish that I had been able to find more detailed information about the specific typeface so I could give it as in-depth of a description as I did Dyslexie, but sadly the detailed descriptions and information about its creation just weren't there for the that. Dyslexia as Dyslexia Daniel Britton felt that dyslexics were in getting the attention they deserved or the understanding they needed. So he decided to design an art piece that would bridge the gap between dyslexics and non-dyslexics. as he states on his web site;
  15. 15. 14 “I wanted to create a piece on Dyslexia as Dyslexia is for the most part greatly misunderstood and extremely miss communicated, even the government agencies that aim to create awareness at best create confusion and being a Dyslexic student I wanted to create a piece of artwork that would allow a understanding and a sense of empathy between non Dyslexics to Dyslexics. I believe that once that Dyslexia is understood then as a nation we can create better learning conditions for Dyslexic students and let them excel in the same way that every other person can.” I greatly admirer this artistic endeavor. He broke up the letters into sections and coloring them differently determine how to remove part of the letter that would make deciphering it difficult but not impossible. By removing just enough of the letter to make instant recognition not possible it requires the review were to look at the letter and decipher what it is they're looking at. This deciphering of the text in front of them read Leah Minix what dyslexic readers have to go through on a daily basis. I personally feel we need more demonstrations will like this to bring awareness to non-dyslexics about the level of difficulty that dyslexic readers go through. If we can get more non-dyslexics to understand the difficulties that maybe we can get more exposure and better font types that will not only help dyslexics to help everyone. Conclusion Dyslexic readers face many challenges. One of the challenges they face is deciphering font and trying to read in general. There is a large gap in the research and development of font types geared to assist dyslexics. I strongly feel that more research on font types that could be beneficial to dyslexics or creating more font types that could be beneficial to dyslexics in the area of research that needs more focus.
  16. 16. 15 To date there are only two font types geared towards dyslexics that are accessible. Though the two font types are different they share many similarities this shows that the problems dyslexics face are universal among the community and not something that is at the whim of any individual typographer. It is very apparent that there are things that are easily identifiable that can be done to make font better for dyslexic readers. Most of the adjustments that can be made to a letter to make it more identifiable are minor and have no real affect on a non-dyslexics ability to read. Something I noticed along the way was that most of the advances in dyslexic font and reading understanding comes at of Europe. Another aspect I might like to go into further in the future or have someone else learn more about is how these typefaces affect and are being used in the US. It's a minor aspect of study but just something caught my eye. Personally my ideal would be if at some point in the future a dyslexic font was created that was universal and was used everywhere. Basically I want a dyslexic version of Helvetica. The idea that I could walk anywhere go on any website or login to any word program and find a dyslexic font is truly beautiful to me. Overall there is a disturbing lack of anything in this field of study and though I may not be the person to further the study in the fields I greatly hope that someday someone will take this to the next level. There are a lot of people miss world and there is a lot of font in this world I don't see why we can have one that helps everyone and is easily available and that we know works. Bibliography
  17. 17. 16 Primary material Boer, Christian. Dyslexie Font. http://www.dyslexiefont.com Gonzalez, Albelardo. OpenDyslexic http://opendyslexic.org Britton, Daniel. http://danielbritton.info/195836/2165784/design/dyslexia Secondary material Zorzi, Marco. "Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vol. 109, No. 28 (July 10, 2012), pp. 11455-11459

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