There has been a lot of media attention lately regarding special “fonts” designed to help with dyslexia. Here is what the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) had to say about it (posted on the IDA website Dec 2014).
What if people with dyslexia could read more easily by switching to a special font? That’s the promise behind several typeface designs created in recent years. Here are three things to know about all fonts:
1) While font design can impact reading effectiveness, reading time and perceptions of legibility, this holds true for all readers including those who have dyslexia and those who do not.
2) It’s important to compare apples to apples. Many factors need to be taken into account when comparing fonts including text characteristics, text size, line and character spacing and computer display settings.
3) There are tradeoffs. For example, research points to a relationship between fonts, reading accuracy and reading speed. Some studies show fonts that are read faster may also read less accurately.
Still thinking about switching fonts? Whether you have dyslexia or not, experimenting with fonts may be worthwhile and boils down to personal preference. Above all, it’s important to remember for those who have dyslexia there are no quick fixes and switching fonts is not a substitute for a Structured Literacy approach to reading instruction.
Bernard, Michael, et al. “A comparison of popular online fonts: Which size and type is best.” Usability News 4.1 (2002): 2002.
Bernard, Michael L., et al. “Comparing the effects of text size and format on the readibility of computer-displayed Times New Roman and Arial text.”International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 59.6 (2003): 823-835.
Mills, Carol Bergfeld, and Linda J. Weldon. “Reading text from computer screens.” ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR) 19.4 (1987): 329-357.