Monday, February 9, 2015

A More Inclusive Font

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the ability to read and comprehend languages, despite levels of intelligence.  A person can be born with it or develop it later on in life, but either way it creates problems with language, but verbal and visual.  Many people live with various levels of this condition and all of them must find a way to successfully navigate languages that don't always make sense to them.

A Dutch graphic designer, Christian Boer, has lived with dyslexia his whole life and decided to do something to help himself and others.  The most classic problem with dyslexia comes when reading languages written with Latin characters.  Many of the individual letters look incredibly similar, and this is where the confusion comes from.  For example, the letters p, q, d, and b present the biggest problem.  There are also issues with c and e, among others.  They are often difficult to distinguish between and this creates the problems with reading comprehension.

To counteract this, Boer has created a completely new typeface that he believes will help.  Dyslexie aims to highlight and create differences between letters so that they are easier to tell apart.  Boer said that as he studied for a hard final one night, the letters on the page would not stop spinning around, making it nearly impossible to read anything.  The biggest feature of Dyslexie is a heavier line thickness at the bottom of the letter.  This helps to anchor each character and stop it from spinning around.

The problematic p, q, d, and b are slanted to create greater differences.

Some letters are given slumps or bigger gapes.

Lengths of certain letters are exaggerated as well.

Letters are bolded to signal the start of sentences.

There are many other features to the font as well, such as spacing, letter heights, and even text layout.  While thorough research has not yet been completed, the creators have seen promising results from tests done at the University of Twente.

Though this idea may not change the world, it embodies little-c creativity.  Boer was faced with a problem every day and knew he was not the only one going through it.  So he did something about it.  As people continue to work on this font, it will only get better and more effective to help those with dyslexia.  Maybe in the future it will be used as regularly as Times New Roman is nowadays.  For today though, you can download the font for free at their website.


  1. Anne -- The concept of the dyslexie font is super cool! Thanks for sharing. I am in some ways surprised that such a product hadn't already been created. I am also curious to know what kind of research was done to discern how to construct each letter and what sorts of things were helpful for individuals with dyslexia. I also wonder if these individuals write differently than those without dyslexia (i.e. does their handwriting reflect the patterns and tools used in the type-face font). Regardless, this is a super ingenuitive and useful product. Perhaps someday textbooks will be available for purchase in the dyslexie font!

  2. Thanks, Anne! This is a great example of creativity defined as a response to necessity, for Christian Boer's idea stemmed from his own experience with dyslexia. It is respectable that he made the decision to channel his frustrations in a productive manner--working towards a solution in the face of personal challenge instead of ignoring the problem altogether.

    Thinking ahead, Boer should apply this to alphabets of all languages, from Greek to Cyrillic. I am not familiar with foreign languages beyond Spanish and Italian, but I could imagine that all readers around the world could benefit from this.

    My mom is an elementary school teacher who frequently works with dyslexic students to improve their reading skills. I am curious if she has heard of this clever product. I will definitely tell her to download the font for her classroom computers so that her students can have an easier time reading a more inclusive font.


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