Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Source Dyslexic Font

Programmers seem to be prone to dyslexia, or is it that dyslexics are prone to programming? Whatever the cause, an open source dyslexic font is welcome news. FONT

Now we have an open source font that claims to be dyslexic friendly. It is a modification of the Bitstream Vera font to give each letter a "heavy bottom". The font has been made by Abelardo Gonzalez, a New Hampshire-based app designer, who released his designs onto the web at the end of last year. Since then the Creative Commons licensed font has been downloaded more than 12,000 times, which isn't a lot, but it also has been built into a number of applications - WordSmith, the openWeb browser, various e-readers and now Instapaper.
The idea of the "heavy bottoms" is that it makes each letter less symmetrical in and adds "gravity" so that you can't rotate the letters. The letter shapes are also supposed to stop flipping e.g. p to q and b to d for example.

The only problem with this really great idea, and it is difficult to criticize any noble cause, is that it hasn't been tested. There are some personal commendations from dyslexics on the site and there is a plan for a specialist school to test the font in the future but at the moment you have to look at it and decide for yourself if it works.

The heavy bottoms remind me of a failing old mechanical typewriter where the tops of the letters are fading out because of broken mechanism or drying out ribbon. Overall, it was a relief to get back to a standard font and certainly wouldn't want to use the dyslexic for coding.
But this is a personal opinion and dyslexia is as varied a problem as you can find. The best thing is to try it out.

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