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Re: read regular - typeface for dyslexics

From: info <info@atutor.ca>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 08:56:37 -0400
Message-ID: <3F93DB85.6050708@atutor.ca>
To: Pete Rainger - TechDis <p.f.rainger@sussex.ac.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hello Pete
I suppose terms used depend on where you come from. Learning Disability 
for one is used differently in North America than it is in your part of 
the world. "Dyslexia" is still widely used here, though the move is away 
from terms that describe specific LDs, to more general terms that 
encompass individual differences.

I acknowledge the presense of "other" charactartistics associated with 
reading disability, though it has been shown that they are in most cases 
the result of a "snowball" effect rooted in a specific phonological 
processing deficit. There has been much research in this area. Kieth 
Stanovich, Linda Siegel, and Bernice Wong,  are three who have devoted 
much effort to identifying the root cause of reading disability. The 
Matthew Effect, as termed by Stanovich, is that snowballing effect the 
results from the phonological deficit affecting other areas of cognitive 
functioning.

Irlen syndrome, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia etc, are all treated 
as separate disabilities not themselves a "reading disability", but 
often accompanying conditions.

At any rate, regardless of the terms used, my point is that this effort 
on behalf of so called dyslexics to determine which fonts are most 
accessible to them, is misguided. I don't disagree that fonts can affect 
readability, but that that readability is applicable to any reader, not 
just those with a reading disability. Font choices should not been 
deemed an accessibility issues, but rather one of usabability.


greg



Pete Rainger - TechDis wrote:

> hi,
>  
> The term "reading disability" is much less common in the UK. We 
> generally refer to Dyslexia as one of many "specific learning 
> difficulties". Not to mention the difficulties, which can sometime 
> accompany dyslexia (or be on their own), such as Dyscalculia or 
> Dyspraxia. Not too mention some thing usual like Hyperlexia.
>  
> In principle I agree that we should be looking at the wide set of 
> reading difficulties that people can have. Though I personally feel to 
> call dyslexia a reading disability limits peoples understanding of the 
> other characteristics like:
>  
> - poor organisational skills and time management skills
> - auditory and visual processing difficulties
> - Problems with short term and working memory
> - difficulties with sequencing and classification
> - difficulties with automaticity
>  
> Greg raised a valid point that much of "dyslexics" reading 
> difficulties relate to difficulties in phonological encoding.
> A good source of reading is Dr Margaret Snowling,  (1987) Dyslexia: A 
> cognitive developmental perspective. Basil Backwell.
>  
> However, there is research into the visual sides of Dyslexia and 
> accompanying symptoms like scotopic sensitivity - now known more as 
> Meares-Irlen Syndrome and more recently "Asfedia" from TintaVision LTD 
> (http://www.tintavision.com/) who have looked at the problem with 
> dyslexia and believe dyslexic's often have a problem edge recognition.
>  
> Also research from Stein, Fowler and Lovegrove has shown that dyslexic 
> children and adults tend to have a weakness in the magnocellular 
> transient subsystem of the retina when attempting to read.
>  
> Here a few references.
>  
> Lovegrove, W (1991) "Spatial frequency processing in normal and 
> dyslexic readers." in Visual Dyslexia vol 13 Stein, J (ed)
>  
> Stein, J & Fowler (1991) "Vision and language" in Dyslexia - 
> Integrating theory and practice op cit.
>  
> There's plenty of research out there on the web to support the idea of 
> "visual dyslexia".
>  
> Pete
>
>     ----- Original Message -----
>     From: info <mailto:info@atutor.ca>
>     To: Peter Rainger <mailto:P.F.Rainger@sussex.ac.uk>
>     Cc: Joe Clark <mailto:joeclark@joeclark.org> ; WAI-IG
>     <mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>     Sent: Friday, October 17, 2003 5:35 PM
>     Subject: Re: read regular - typeface for dyslexics
>
>     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 Monday, 20 October 2003 08:44:57 GMT

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