For the roughly 10 percent of the world’s population who have dyslexia, reading can be a real chore. Standard fonts are deliberately made to look alike — the ‘b’ flips around as a ‘d’ and ‘n’ becomes ‘u’ — in an effort to keep them neat and aesthetically pleasing. But it is exactly this that makes it so hard for dyslexics to distinguish between different letters, since they are prone to flip words, mirror them, or rotate them in their minds. As a graphic designer who also grapples with dyslexia, Christian Boer designed a new font called Dyslexie that addresses these design issues, and one publisher has already published 40 books using it.
“When they’re reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds,” Boer told Dezeen. “Traditional typefaces make this worse, because they base some letter designs on others, inadvertently creating ‘twin letters’ for people with dyslexia.”
Dyslexie addresses this in a number of ways. In addition to alternating lengths of the stick that juts out from a ‘p’ or ‘b’, for example, he has also made the rounded parts heavier so that dyslexic readers are less likely to flip them. Boer also created more spaces between words and letters and puts capital letters and punctuation in bold so readers can better distinguish the beginning and ending of sentences. Letters also have a slight slant.
The Dutch designer says people with dyslexia have a lot less trouble using his font and make fewer mistakes. Reading also becomes more enjoyable, which is a huge selling point.
Boer initially designed Dyslexie for his thesis project in 2010 at the Utrecht Art Academy, and then presented his design at a TED talk in 2011. He is currently presenting his groundbreaking work at the second Istanbul Design Biennial, which runs until 14 December, 2014. Dyslexie is available for download and is compatible with most word processing software.
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