I’ve browsed many studies that lots to say regarding to accessibility on websites. I have also read blogs and articles about how typography should be your first port-of-call when the brief demands accessibility.
What I am trying to say is that if the typeface you’re thinking of using isn’t right for all abilities, the design simply isn’t comprehensive for every type of user. This includes the huge number of users that include the visually impaired, the elderly and users who in-fact endure having dyslexia. I have dyslexia (a mild form of it) and I do struggle every now and again when it comes to reading or even surfing the web.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia a general term for disorders that involve issues with the learning to read or interpret words, letters, and alternative symbols, however that doesn’t have an effect on the general intelligence of someone. They say even Albert Einstein was dyslexic.
The signs and symptoms of this learning disorder does differ from person to person. Every individual with the condition can have a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses.
Dyslexia may be a learning difficulty that primarily affects the abilities involved in fluent and accurate word reading and spelling, but it is also the characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal process speed.
Co-occurring difficulties may also be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, however, these don’t seem to be, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
Now that we have dug a little into the meaning, I thought I would make it even more relevant to what Fifteen do which is design including typography.
Which fonts are the easiest and best to read?
Dyslexia may be a disability that can be incredibly sensitive to particular typefaces, in both print and on screen. We intend to take a look at some of the typefaces we recommend to suggest that whatever materials you are creating, they’re accessible to a broader audience as possible.
Dyslexic individuals notice that the readability of a piece of text can varies greatly relying upon the font (typeface or type style) used. I actually wish to stipulate that some fonts that are recommended and used by dyslexic people through out all types of materials and technology.
Serif fonts, with their ‘ticks’ and ‘tails’ at the top and end of most strokes (as found in traditional print fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman), tend to obscure the shapes of letters, therefore sans-serif fonts are generally most well-liked. Thus we tend to see many dyslexic individuals find it easier to browse a font that appears almost like a handwriting as they’re familiar with this style, and some teachers prefer them.
However, most of those forms of typefaces could result in confusion with some letter combinations, like “oa” and “oo”; “rn” and “m” that in my experience could get extremely muddling and impair how I would read something that is in front of me. This said, reading a sentence incorrectly and me worry about people are judging me or completely misunderstanding what I am reading is something that I had to deal with.
The size of the ascenders and descenders of letters (the ‘stems’ on letters like p and b) is additionally vital as many dyslexic readers believe on recalling the visual form of a word thanks to poor phonological awareness. If ascenders and descenders are too short, the form of the word can get harder to spot and may make reading slower and less accurate.
So what makes a font more accessible and what must you look out for once you opt for one with people who have dyslexia?
Top 10 tips for accessible type styles
- A clean fashionable sans serif with large open counters is taken into consideration is to be the most suitable form of typestyle for signage, sub-headings and captions where there are small amounts of text set at 16pt and above
- Look for a font with optimum character recognition to best assist legibility wherever sure a characters are deemed confusing. Does the Capital ‘I’ and lowercase ‘l’ appear the same? Or are the ‘B’ and ‘8’ too similar?
- Take care with the positive and negative areas in and around the letterforms (making certain that the letter spacing looks equally balanced)
- A serif added to the lowercase ‘i’ enhances character recognition
- A character stroke that is about 17-20% of the x-height can be proven to be the most legible form
- Pay attention to the letterforms on a darkened background because the spacing could look tighter and also the letter shapes could appear to ‘glow’
- Numerals need to be clear and simply recognisable. 0 (zero) might have a dot to assist the legibility and it’s preferred that the ‘6’ and ‘9’ have open terminals.
- Choosing a typeface with an over sized x-height, extended ascenders and descenders as this helps legibility and readability
- Open terminals aid clarity and permit the letterforms to be simply read
- People with learning disabilities are usually treated as inferior with childlike design hence such a bigger joke is made around the font Comic Sans. An accessible font shouldn’t mean childlike, there’s no reason to compromise craft for readability. A highly crafted typeface with a considered, clear and elegant design is highly recommended
So with these points, below is a list of fonts that I think would be perfect for you to use for all kinds of materials from web to print.
In 2003, Natascha Frensch, a graphic designer at the Royal College of Art, designed a font specifically for dyslexic readers, taking into account the issues discussed above. There are examples of Read Regular on her web site at www.readregular.com and the children’s publisher Chrysalis is now using it for two-thirds of the 150 children’s titles it brings out every year. In May 2012, Dutch educational publishers Zwijsen adopted the Read Regular typeface, where it is known as Zwijsen Dyslexiefont.
This typeface is designed specifically for dyslexia. You can download it from www.k-type.com free for individual use. It was developed quite a bit over the last few months, although it still has some minor irregularities. It tries to avoid some possible dyslexic confusions (e.g. b-d) by using different shapes and is broadly based on Comic Sans, see below. Please let us know what you think of it.
Has been designed for Visual Impairment. Originally produced for subtitles and signs, there is now a screen version Tiresias PC font. It is good for legibility, but doesn’t address the issue of dyslexic confusions.
A sans-serif font which maintains the basic design of Monotype 20th Century, but has been modified to ensure satisfactory output from modern digital systems. The design is influenced by the geometric style sans-serif faces which were popular during the 1920s and 1930s.
Calibri is a modern sans-serif typeface with subtle roundings on stems and corners. Its proportions allow high impact in tightly set lines of big and small text alike. Calibri was included with Windows Vista and Office 2007 and is now the default typeface for Microsoft Office.
This font is often recommended for dyslexia but was actually designed for early reading. Also, it is quite expensive and can be bought through Adrian Williams Design and elsewhere on the web. Letter shapes are similar to those that schools use to teach handwriting, and ascenders and descenders are exaggerated to emphasise word shapes.
A modern typeface designed by Adobe. We have begun to use Myriad Pro in our designed materials and in part on this dyslexic.com site. Myriad Pro has a clean sans-serif aesthetic making it suitable for people with dyslexia.
A number of fonts have been commissioned by Microsoft, others are available through Google Web Fonts, all with the aim of making on-screen reading easier and are included in many of their packages. While some have a fault common in many modern fonts in that they have large bodies and short descenders and ascenders, which makes the letters harder to tell apart, they are very professionally worked, so they are as clear and clean as possible at all sizes and in all media.
Trebuchet MS has short descenders but reasonably long ascenders, small body size and generous line spacing. We find this font suits many readers.
Although there are thousands of fonts freely available on the web, most of them are fancy display fonts totally unsuited for blocks of text. We are therefore currently obliged to fall back on the fonts distributed with Windows and Mac OS for our style sheet.
Our other two choices are Geneva for the Mac and Arial for older Windows systems.
Some dyslexic people find that Comic Sans is one of the more readable of the commonly-available fonts. Others find it too bold, too childish or too informal.
All in all, know your audience and also be aware of the other users who may not be able to read something without difficulty.
However, be creative too!
So if you need any more information on what you need for your customers or need us to design that perfect piece of work that can be accessed by all then please drop us an email or give us a call on 0115 932 5151 and we can discuss more.