The designer of a special font aimed at people with dyslexia says more than 12,000 people have downloaded it since he made it available free of charge for home use.
The Dyslexie font is designed to deal with a conflict between the ways many fonts are designed, and one of the ways dyslexia makes reading harder.
In many cases, a font designer will value consistency throughout the font, for example always using the same length for long and short strokes. As a result, in many fonts a “d” rotated 180 degrees will be identical to a “p”.
The problem according to designer Christian Boer is that people with dyslexia “often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds.”
To deal with this and other issue, Boer designed Dyslexie with several key changes:
- designing the letters to be bottom-heavy, for example with bolder strokes at the base;
- widening the openings in letters to make them more distinctive;
- slanting sections of some letters (as if they were italics), tweaking shapes and subtly altering heights to exaggerate the differences between letters that could be confused;
- making punctuation and capital letters slightly bolder to exaggerate the break between sentences; and
- slightly increasing the space between each letter and each work, reducing the chances of the reader jumbling them up.
Boer cites studies from universities in Twente and Amsterdam showing that 78 percent of test subjects made fewer mistakes when reading documents in the font, while 84 percent were able to read faster.
The font is free to download and use at home, but carries a licence fee for educational establishments and businesses. Unfortunately, the free download has an unwelcomed irony: the form includes a Captcha challenge that uses a mix of lower case and block capitals in an intentionally obscure font.