(Note: This is a guest post by my friend Mary Garcia Dodson, originally posted on LinkedIn. Mary is a writer, a passionate educator, and all-around cool person. I asked her to send me this post so I could share it here, in order to show that typography can be used as a tool in creating more inclusive educational environments. If you want to look at a couple of the fonts that she mentions, look at Dyslexie and OpenDyslexic. -Gene Hart)
Empowering Dyslexic Readers Through Typography
By Mary Garcia Dodson
Okeechobee, FL, July 13, 2023
Introduction: Understanding Dyslexia and the Power of Typography
Dyslexia, a learning disability characterized by difficulties in accurate word recognition, fluent reading comprehension, and spelling abilities, affects an estimated 10-20% of the global population. In the United States alone, dyslexia impacts 1 in 5 students, making it the most common learning disability. While dyslexia presents unique challenges, research indicates that simple design solutions, specifically typography, can significantly enhance reading accessibility for individuals with dyslexia.
Recognizing Dyslexia: Online Screening Tools and Their Role
If you suspect that you or your child may have dyslexia, there are free online screening tools available to provide initial insights before seeking a professional assessment. It’s important to note that these online screeners serve as indicators and are not substitutes for comprehensive medical evaluations. Specialized professionals conduct full diagnostic workups, including in-depth, standardized testing across various domains such as vocabulary, oral language, phonological processing, reading, spelling, writing, and memory. Nevertheless, accessible online screeners allow individuals to self-assess and identify preliminary signs of dyslexia.
Here are a few reputable online dyslexia screening tools:
Fonts that Aid Dyslexic Readers
Certain fonts have emerged as highly effective for dyslexic readers, often referred to as “dyslexia-friendly” fonts. These typefaces incorporate subtle modifications to letterforms that significantly improve readability and reduce errors.
For example, the font Dyslexie, developed by Christian Boer, features weighted bottoms, larger openings, and slanted lines to differentiate letters, minimizing visual distortion. Similarly, OpenDyslexicemphasizes heavy bottoms to prevent letter flipping, while Lexie Readable utilizes open letter shapes and varying forms to enhance recognition.
Mainstream fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Trebuchet MS also offer clean, straightforward designs suitable for individuals with dyslexia. Their simplicity and letter spacing contribute to enhanced readability.
Experts recommend using fonts sized at a minimum of 12-14 points for dyslexic readers. Applying the right fonts can transform documents and reading materials into more accessible formats for individuals with dyslexia.
Advocacy and Implementation of Dyslexia-Friendly Fonts
Educators, designers, and publishers play a pivotal role in implementing dyslexia-friendly fonts in their resources. Additionally, digital platforms and e-readers should offer these font options as standard features. Raising awareness about how typography impacts dyslexic readers is crucial, and greater advocacy is needed in this regard.
Conclusion: Empowering Dyslexic Readers through Typography
Inclusive design and typography have the power to empower individuals with dyslexia, enabling them to embrace their talents and potential. Small adjustments to letter designs on a page can result in smoother, faster, and less frustrating reading experiences. Typography offers a simple yet potent way to create a more accessible world for millions of dyslexic readers worldwide.
I maintain no affiliations with the companies offering dyslexia screening tools mentioned in this article, nor do I receive compensation from them. I provide their links solely as valuable resources for readers interested in conducting preliminary self-assessments before pursuing formal professional evaluations.