Dyslexie, a new font to help dyslexics read

A dyslexic  graphic designer from the Netherlands has created Dyslexie, a new font that’s constructed to make it easier for dyslexics read. He’s done several things, like making the base of the letters bolder and adjusting their overall shape, to help readers distinguish commonly confused letters and judge their proper orientation.

Unlike other readers, dyslexics have a tendency to rotate, swap and mirror letters, making it difficult for them to comprehend what they’re reading. For years it was thought that dyslexia was a vision problem, but scientists now know that the condition stems from the brain. Scans of dyslexic brains show that there are structural differences—including in the thalamus, which serves an information way station—when compared with other brains. Some dyslexics even see letters as suspended 3-D animations that twist before their eyes. “I perceived letters floating like balloons in my head,” Boer says. As a means to finally “tie down” these balloons, Boer dedicated his time and graphic design skills to come up with Dyslexie.

Whereas the majority of typography designers want their fonts to be aesthetically pleasing (think of the flowing serifs of Lucida Calligraphy or the chiseled lines of Arial), Boer was more concerned with reading comprehension. He estimates that the time he spent designing his font added up to 15 hours per letter. He even recruited dyslexic college pals for feedback.

One of the first things he did was increase the boldness of letters at their bases, to make them appear weighted, causing readers’ brains to know not to flip them upside down, as can occur with “p” and “d.” Boer also enlarged the openings of various letters, such as “a” and “c,” to make them more distinguishable from one another, and increased the length of “the tail” of other letters, like the “g” and y.” He also put certain letters at a slant so that they would appear to be in italics, like the “j,” a tactic to increase the brain’s ability to distinguish it from the letter “i.” Finally, he boldfaced capital letters and punctuation, and provided ample space between letters and words, to allow the brain more time to compute the letters and begin forming them into words and sentences.

Take a look at the Dyslexie version of the article. I’d be interested in readers comments on this – I found it extremely easy to read and found I could scan the article very quickly compared to the normal web version.

2 Responses to “Dyslexie, a new font to help dyslexics read”

  1. Steven D. says:

    I found the font to be readable, but somewhat uncomfortable to read. My eyes kept trying to focus on the heavily weighted sections of the characters. The text almost appeared to be a bit blurry, even though it wasn’t blurred; a bit of an odd senstation.

    The blue text might have contributed to that issue.

    It is an interesting attempt at solving a problem, but I can’t see the font gaining widespread acceptance. I can imagine dyslexic individuals using it for their own writing needs, which is probably it’s main purpose.

  2. Keith says:

    I found the blue text put me off a little but overall I did find the font much easier to read than standard Arial or other similar sans serif. I’m quite nearsighted and I suspect that may have something to do with it – the features added to help dyslexics distinguish the letter forms may also help people like me with visual problems.

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