November 20, 2014
New font helps make reading easier for dyslexics
by Julia Fleischaker
A Dutch designer named Christian Boer has developed a new typeface designed to make reading easier for dyslexics. As opposed to traditional fonts, which, their website points out, are based strictly on aesthetics, Dyslexie employs a number of small changes to make letters “more quickly recognized and told apart by dyslexics.” Because dyslexics often flip, rotate, and jumble letters, these changes serve mostly to fix letters in place and differentiate each from the ones following. Dezeen Magazine explain Boer’s design.
In Boer’s typeface, the letters are designed with heavier bottom portions to prevent the reader’s mind from turning them upside down.
Lengthened ascenders and descenders – the portions of the characters that stretch beyond the two main horizontal guides – also makes them easier to tell apart.
Letters that usually appear similar are subtly italicised and have added tails where possible, so they no longer look alike and pose less risk of the reader mirroring them.
Boer has also added larger spaces between letters and words, as well as bold capitals and punctuation marks so the start and end of sentences can be better differentiated.
(The Guardian describes Dyslexie as a “chubby-ankled font,” which makes it sound like letters with cankles are the key development.)
Taken together, these changes should serve to help dyslexics keep each letter in its place on the page. Slate reports that while Boer “says that independent studies from the University of Twente and the University of Amsterdam back up his claims that Dyslexie helps both children and adults with dyslexia to read faster and with fewer errors, though the results from Twente were mixed or statistically insignificant.” Boer also told Slate that since making Dyslexie available in June, 12,000 people have downloaded it.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.