Dyslexic friendly fonts

Out of a class of 30 children, statistics suggest that ‘between one and three’ will have dyslexia (Svensson, 2008, p. 160). Dyslexia is a condition that can be caused by a multiple of different underlying problems and affects children in many different ways, making it difficult to define. The BBC Health website provides a good overview of the condition.

Although the condition presents itself in different ways, there is a consensus that it affects children’s ability to read, with children frequently stating that words appear to be leaping out of the page (Svensson, 2008).

OpenDyslexic is a free font that is designed with weighted bottoms to reinforce the unique shape of different letters, helping to avoid children mixing them up.  It was featured in a recent BBC News article. The word cloud (this time designed in the brilliant Tagxedo) provides a summary of the key words used on the OpenDyslexic homepage.

This video for a similar font called Dyslexie provides some more insight into how these types of font are designed to work.

The use of such fonts has some support. Evans (2001) states that about two-thirds of dyslexics struggle to process and interpret visual information. This is made easier with the use of dyslexic-friendly fonts because the letters are carefully individualised. Furthermore, the font is evenly spaced, which is recommended by the British Dyslexia Association as part of their Dyslexia Style Guide.

Research into the font Dyslexie has suggested that it helps to decrease some types of reading errors; although it doesn’t improve reading speed. The report suggested more research is required to ascertain how effective such fonts are.

Overall, the limited research available into the use of these types of fonts suggests that they could have some benefits to children with dyslexia. As such, it might be worth teachers trialling them in the classroom to see how children respond to their use. They might make a real difference to a child.

References:

Included here are the paper-based references I used in this blogpost.

Evans, J. W. (2001) Dyslexia and Vision. London: Whurr.

Svensson, C. (2008) Dyslexia and Reading. In: Graham, J. and Kelly, A. (eds.) Reading under control: Teaching reading in the primary school. 3rd ed. London: David Fulton.

2 thoughts on “Dyslexic friendly fonts

  1. This is a really interesting post. You suggest trialling these fonts in the classroom but I wonder whether we should only be using this type of font in the classroom? As dyslexia is not tested before the age of 8, I feel it would be sensible to use these fonts right from reception and throughout the school.

  2. You have raised an interesting point here, Lindsay. I’m not sure if we should use only these types of font because the research into their effectiveness is currently limited; although what is available is positive.

    The British Dyslexia Association has produced a style guide, which I think should be considered when producing resources for the classroom. It can be accessed by visiting this link – http://tinyurl.com/l43y2q.

    This guide does not mention the font above; however this might change as more research comes to light. The style guide does have a list of fonts to use and I would recommend that these are the main fonts used in the classroom to help support all children. Dyslexia is a complex condition and different children might prefer different fonts off of this list so it could be worth trialling them with the whole class.

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