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Re: read regular - typeface for dyslexics

From: info <info@atutor.ca>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 12:35:19 -0400
Message-ID: <3F901A47.3020904@atutor.ca>
To: Peter Rainger <P.F.Rainger@sussex.ac.uk>
Cc: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>, WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
All-

Is there scientific evidence published that suggests font variations 
improve reading for dyslexic readers? I'd like to see it, if someone can 
post a reference or two.

Having spent many years studying the subject myself, I can tell you that 
dyslexia (or reading disability as it is now called among practioners) 
in the vast majority of cases is the failure or reduced ability to draw 
the phonological link between graphic and auditory forms of letters or 
words, not the ability to recognize letter forms. In a very small 
percentage of readers who have an orthographic type reading disability, 
letter forms may pose a problem, thought this form of reading disability 
is quite rare, and it is generally associated with the inability to 
automate recognition of letter patterns, like common syllables or 
affixes,  rather than individual letters. Phonological encoding problems 
(letter to sound correspondence) is the generally agreed root of reading 
disabilities, not letter recognition.

I think addressing the readability of fonts is a general issues rather 
than one that affects dyslexic readers exclusively. Fonts that are 
difficult to read for dyslexics, are also difficult to read for normal 
readers.

greg

PS. Yes, I do have a reading disability myself.

Peter Rainger wrote:

>Hi,
>
>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). 
>http://www.techdis.ac.uk/seven/test/dyslexia-letters.html
>
>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".
> 
>Pete
>
>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 12:24:23 GMT

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