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Re: read regular - typeface for dyslexics

From: Peter Rainger <P.F.Rainger@sussex.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 16:08:12 +0100
To: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Cc: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1066403292.3f9005dc1ea6d@webmail.sussex.ac.uk>


When considering readability for dyslexic learners the issues are a 
little more complicated than just typography.

To clarify when I said "simple fonts" I mean't non-fancy/fantasy fonts.

Joe states that "Simple design impedes letter recognition", this might 
be true for the bulk of the population, however I would assume this 
research did not look at the impact of visual processing difficulties 
on the results (a common dyslexic characteristic).

I have knocked this Flash animation together to demonstrate the visual 
effects for some dyslexic readers. 
(apologies it is merely a visual animation and not accessible - see 
bottom of email for alternative description). 

Even if a "simple font" does not provide the most optimum letter 
recognition accuracy there are other issues involved, including the 
readers preferences for a readable font. Complex fonts could can be 
less "friendly" than other fonts, which can put some dyslexics even off 
bothering to try to read something if it is not aesthetically pleasing.

This may not be the science of typography but in the end practitioner 
based experience shows that fonts like "comic sans ms" have been found 
to aid some dyslexics in reading whether it is actually a placebo 
effect from finding it more visually appearing we don't know - but who 
care if it helps. 

No one is suggesting any one font can solve a problem - but 
acknowledging the experiences of real dyslexic learners is important. I 
would always prefer to listen to a room full of those sharing their 
experiences than an "expert opinion".

Alternative description of animation.

The letters "c", "n" and "u" are very similar if you rotate them round 
their centre.

The letters "p" and "q" are similar if you image p reflected in a 
mirror, the same is also true for "b" and "d"

Quoting Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>:

> > This does seem an interesting font type.
> "Outright failure," you mean?
> > Dyslexia friendly fonts generally have a simple design that aids
> in
> > letter recognition
> Simple design impedes letter recognition. Bet you didn't know that.
> > and this font design seems to have put a lot of
> > thought into avoiding the typical dyslexic reading traits of
> letter
> > transposition, rotation and reflection.
> Yes, and for that reason, simplified letterforms *worsen* dyslexia.
> Consider bicameral vs. unicameral _a_ and _g_. Which are really
> easier to
> read and harder to confuse?
> > Other "simplistic" fonts include Comic Sans MS and Sassoon -
> whether or
> > not the Typographers think they are "real fonts" or not.
> Of course they're "real" fonts. Comic Sans works beautifully in
> Microsoft
> Comic Chat, whose main instantiation these days is the comic strip
> Jerkcity <http://jerkcity.com>, and works nauseatingly badly
> everywhere
> else.  Sassoon (the Primary is best known) is a script font, which
> would
> hardly be considered a dyslexia aid or appliance.
> > It certainly looks a bit better than Comic Sans,
> Blunt trauma to the eyes would work better than Comic Sans.
> <http://www.bancomicsans.com/>
> You're all entitled to your opinions. I'm just looking forward to
> some
> that are actually informed. "I like it" and "I can read it" are not
> valid
> criteria.
> --
>   Joe Clark  |  joeclark@joeclark.org
>   Author, _Building Accessible Websites_
>   <http://joeclark.org/access/> | <http://joeclark.org/book/>
Received on Friday, 17 October 2003 11:14:40 UTC

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