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Special Fonts May Help People With Dyslexia Read

By HERWriter
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Special Fonts May Help People With Dyslexia with Reading MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

If you live with dyslexia, more technological options are now available to make your life easier, including special fonts that cause reading to be less arduous.

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that hinders the ability to read, including difficulties with matching up sounds to letters and whole words, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

One example of a specially designed font for people with dyslexia is called Dyslexie, designed by Christian Boer, a graphic designer.

This font is designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia, since the individual letters in the font are made to stand out more from each other than other regular fonts.

This may make it easier to avoid confusing or switching around letters, according to the Dyslexie website.

“With a heavy base line, alternating stick/tail lengths, larger-than-normal openings, and a semi-cursive slant, the dyslexia font ensures that each character has a unique form,” according to the website.

There are studies from two different universities that support the font’s helpfulness, and a survey was completed as well.

One study is part of a master thesis at Universiteit Twente, and results suggested that there was a decrease in reading errors while using the special font, although reading speed did not increase.

Another font available is called OpenDyslexic and OpenDyslexic-Alta. Like Dyslexie, this font is also free to download.

Although no research has been done on this specific font, the creator of the font, Abelardo Gonzalez, states on his website that it has helped with his reading and friends who have dyslexia. The font is updated based on suggestions of the general public, as well.

“Letters have heavy weighted bottoms to indicate direction,” according to the website. “You are able to quickly figure out which part of the letter is down, which aids in recognizing the correct letter, and sometimes helps to keep your brain from rotating them around.”

“Consistently weighted bottoms can also help reinforce the line of text. The unique shapes of each letter can help prevent confusion through flipping and swapping.”

Sheldon Horowitz is the director of LD resources at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and an expert advisor for website Understood.org, a resource for learning and attention issues, said in an email that whether these fonts really help come down to individual preference, just like the average person may prefer Times New Roman over Comic Sans for whatever reason.

“The best information we have about these special fonts is not based on research but rather on anecdotal reports of people who have tried them,” Horowitz said. “The bottom line is this: there’s no harm in trying them (especially because they are free to download), and enjoy them if they are right for you.”

Another technological option to help people with dyslexia is a text-to-speech and dictation software program.

“Many of those impacted by dyslexia have significant difficulties reading printed words and transcribing their thoughts onto paper,” Horowitz said.

People with dyslexia can have a variety of struggles, including difficulties sounding out words, or issues with speed and efficiency when it comes to reading, as well as problems understanding and remembering what they read.

Here are three additional tips to help cope with different symptoms of dyslexia via Horowitz:

1) “Many reading specialists recommend scanning text for unfamiliar words before starting to read.”

2) “Others recommend developing a hypothesis about the meaning of what they are about to read and stopping frequently to check their comprehension.”

3) “Because reading is a language-based activity, it is sometimes helpful when people with dyslexia read words aloud, listening to themselves and self-correcting along the way.”

Neil Milliken, head of accessibility and digital inclusion at Atos, has dyslexia and mentioned in an email interview that there are other fonts available to help people with dyslexia, such as “Read Regular” (not free to download).

He said that regular fonts seem to work fine for many people with dyslexia, as long as they are sans serif. "Sans" is French for "without". Sans serif letters don't use serifs, which are small lines at their ends.

“On a (screen) tablet, PC or phone I have a preference for well-spaced, highly legible text on a just off-white background, as I find that the glare from pure white slows me down,” Milliken said.

He added that font size and layout contrast are important for readability as well. He uses technology such as Mind Mapping, speech recognition, and tools on his smart phone, such as word prediction and the speak page function.

Dyslexie Font. Research. Web. November 26, 2014.

Universiteit Twente. de Leeuw, Renske. Learning Sciences. Special Font For Dyslexia? Web. November 26, 2014.

OpenDyslexic. About. Web. November 26, 2014.

Hohenadel, Kristin. A Typeface Designed to Help Dyslexics Read. Web. November 26, 2014.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Dyslexia Information Page. What is Dyslexia? Web. November 26, 2014.

Horowitz, Sheldon H. Email interview. November 21, 2014.

Milliken, Neil. Email interview. November 19, 2014.

Reviewed December 1, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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