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Dyslexia fonts

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Dyslexia is a Phonological Processing disorder. This means it is an issue with language processing, not vision.

Dyslexia is a slight disorder of the brain that causes difficulty in reading and spelling, for example, but does not affect intelligence.

Dyslexia affects about 1 in 5 people worldwide. Its symptoms range in severity from mild to extreme. It causes your brain to transpose letters, numbers, punctuation, and other characters, which affects your ability to read. This means that making Dyslexic-friendly fonts and typography choices are important things to consider.

Background

When designing fonts, some typographers flip and rotate one character to form other characters. Letters b, p, d and q are usually created using this method. This is because it makes it easier to make the font.

However, this practice may cause problems for people with Dyslexia. It can make some letters, numbers, punctuation, and other characters become indistinguishable. This can make it easy to confuse one character for another. As a result, people with Dyslexia may prefer fonts where all the characters are unique.

The questionable utility of Dyslexic fonts?

Dyslexia fonts are typefaces designed so that each character is unique and distinguishable. Dyslexia fonts also make each character unique by using thicker lines in some parts of the letters, as well as slanting them a bit. They are intended to help people with Dyslexia.

According to recent studies, it has been proven that Dyslexia fonts do not help people read faster and make fewer mistakes. In fact, most people with Dyslexia prefer Comic Sans, Verdana, and Helvetica to other fonts. For a detailed review of the research, see Good Fonts for Dyslexia (PDF).

General font tips

The following are general tips that improve the overall quality of your website's typography:

  • Font size should be at least 12-14pt or its equivalent. This help people with cognitive disabilities, language and learning disabilities, as well as people with low vision who may not be able to perceive the text.
  • Larger line spacing improves readability. Proper line spacing makes web content flow smoothly, and ensures that the visually rendered text is presented in such a manner that is perceived without its layout interfering with its readability. According to the WCAG Visual Presentation (level AAA) success criterion, line height (line spacing) should be at least 1.5 times the font size.

Note: There are no hard rules that defines when the line spacing is too loose. However, when the lines of text seem to be visually floating from each other, it is a sign of excess line spacing.

  • Use a small number of fonts, ideally 1 or 2. This is because multiple fonts makes a website look unstructured and unprofessional. Also, multiple fonts obstructs the flow of content of the web page as people spend time adjusting to each new font. Hence, reducing readability.
  • Use bold to add emphasis rather than italics. This is because large amounts of italicized text can be difficult to read.
  • Avoid large amounts of UPPERCASE text. When words are written in all caps, they have a uniform rectangular shape, meaning some readers may not be able to identify words by their shape.
  • Animated text must be used sparingly and honor reduced motion preferences. This is because animations can be distracting, especially for a person with ADHD.

Summary

This article can be summarized into the following:

  • Dyslexia affects your ability to read.
  • Dyslexic fonts may not be effective.
  • Good typography is more helpful.
  • Letting a user change their font and type size is important.

Further reading