For the one in five people who have dyslexia, reading can be an exercise in frustration. Letters may appear to switch, flip, rotate or fuse.
To get an idea of what it’s like to have dyslexia, Victor Wedell created this simulator after his dyslexic friend explained how letters appeared to swap, making it difficult to read:
While experts say there is no cure or simple fix for dyslexia – early diagnosis and intervention to teach children decoding techniques is recommended – several software companies have come out with new fonts designed for dyslexics.
Available as apps and downloads, OpenDyslexic, Dyslexie, and Dyslexia Unscrambled were designed to make it easier for readers to differentiate each letter. For example, the letters p,q,d, and b, which are normally difficult for dyslexics to decipher, appear more distinct from one another, thicker in some parts, and thinner in others.
Christian Boer, the designer of the Dyslexie font – who has dyslexia himself – added more space between letters and words to counter the “crowding effect” that makes letters appear to fuse. The capital letters are also bolder, so readers know where a sentence begins and don’t read two sentences as one.
Boer told digitaltrends.com,“If you suffer from dyslexia it takes 5x the energy to read something.”
He added, “Trying to do this for everything from road signs and packaging to long articles online — it’s exhausting! Initially this project was designed to help me. I was my own test group. But as I worked on it I found out that more and more people had dyslexia. It’s gone from being something to help myself to a worldwide project to help everyone who needs it.”
Dyslexia is a complicated condition, and the jury is still out on how helpful these fonts might be.
Sally E. Shaywitz of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity told the Washington Post that research shows “that children with dyslexia are not unusually prone to reversing letters or words.” She added that these new dyslexia fonts may not be a help to everyone as “dyslexia is related to a child’s ability to process language, specifically the units that constitute words.”