New free font helps dyslexic people read web text
A free, open-source font has been created to make digital content easier for people with dyslexia to read.
One of the main symptoms of dyslexia is believing letters are rotating, swapping, or ‘wiggling’ about on the page.
Characters in the new specially designed font are particularly dense at the bottom, adding weight and gravity designed to prevent them from flipping over or swapping around in the minds of dyslexic readers.
The project was originally created by Abelardo Gonzalez, a mobile app designer based in New Hampshire, U.S. He told the BBC that although similar fonts do already exist, they are currently so expensive that no one can afford to use them.
Gonzalez wanted to make his font entirely free and available to everyone across a wide variety of platforms. So, to gain publicity, he featured the font on a free browser he released on Apple’s iOS app store last year, before advertising the browser on a number of related sites.
Other developers soon caught on, including the creators of Dox on Box, an e-reader designed for iPads, and the makers of Wordsmith, a word processor for Mac computers. Android users can now install the font onto their devices, allowing it to be used across a range of software.
Now Instapaper, a programme used by over two million people to read webpages offline, is giving dyslexic users the option to transform all text into the new font. Mr Gonzalez said: “Given what Instapaper does – capture any web page and present it in a consistent, adjustable, customer-controlled environment – it’s a natural fit for bringing improved accessibility and legibility to anyone who needs it.”
Schools across the U.S and UK are said to be testing the font with their children, and big-name companies Sony and Amazon are allegedly considering it for their e-readers.
According to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), around 4% of people in the UK are dyslexic. Arran Smith, project officer, explained that the font worked for him by reducing the effects of the visual stress he usually experienced when trying to read text.
It is hoped that the font will become increasingly available across the world to help dyslexic people decipher text on a range of platforms, from e-readers and browsers to smart phones and tablets.
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