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Open Dyslexic - Dyslexia Fonts (dyslexicfonts.com)
65 points by joeyespo on Sept 19, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 44 comments

I'm dyslexic and I love this idea! However this font is much harder to read.

Here are my trouble letters in this font: http://i.imgur.com/ilkUV.png Note that there is no indication what letters these are other than by direction (which is really hard for many dyslexics).

Compare this to a regular font: http://i.imgur.com/mbi54.png Note that there are hints in the serifs that distinguish direction.

By reversing the regular serif font, you can see these hints: http://i.imgur.com/t1sxB.png=

Also, the kerning is pretty bad: http://i.imgur.com/A9PJk.png

There are several versions of the font available, and the newest on github and dafont have some of those issues fixed.

There are Windows specific issues, and those are being worked on.

I'm not dyslexic, but I still checked out the fonts expecting them to bump up readability even for me.

Usually, if some product is made to be usable by folks who have difficulty with something, it turns out to work better for folks who don't have that problem (kitchen implements come to mind).

That didn't turn out to be true in this case. I went "ouch!" when I looked at the page. Do you find this font giving you an overall bump in readability over the standard fonts?

There are several comments already about the scientific validity of this font, but the issue is much deeper.

"Dyslexia" cannot be meaningfully distinguished from "poor reading skills" in any measurable way. There is no evidence for the efficacy of any intervention that is uniquely suited to dyslexia; All effective interventions are equally effective in improving the reading skills of non-dyslexic individuals. There is no evidence for the efficacy of special fonts, coloured overlays or any other visual aid. These interventions are simply placebo and are likely to distract from proven interventions which are known to be effective.

The popular notion of dyslexia as a unique neurological disorder has no basis in fact. There is no agreed-upon definition of dyslexia beyond the very general description of "a significant impairment in reading ability without significant cognitive impairment". The intellectually honest thing would be to abandon the term completely in favour of a simple factual description such as "poor reading skills", but this is politically unlikely.


I agree that it’s disingenuous to give a specific-sounding label to a somewhat ill-defined thing, but you must consider the perspective of a dyslexic person. I have a close friend, intelligent and hardworking, an excellent speaker—who simply finds it difficult to read and to express himself in writing, or to learn foreign languages. Whether he can meaningfully be called “dyslexic” is of no import. Having that label to attach to his difficulties when he was younger let him more easily find resources to improve his written language skills. It doesn’t matter if a term is historically or etymologically inaccurate; what matters is the actual usage.

I'll be blunt about this - the term dyslexia exists to absolve incompetent teachers and schools of responsibility. All the available evidence points to the fact that dyslexics have simply been incompetently taught and never gained a coherent sense of how language works. By labelling the student as dyslexic we perpetuate the lie that the reading difficulty has come from within the individual, rather than from the failings of the adults around them.

It is very likely that your friend is absolutely no different from anyone else, but for the fact that they had a poor early experience of reading. A failed education system has found it more convenient to convince your friend that they have a neurological disorder, rather than admit to their culpability. Your friend should not have needed any clinical diagnosis to access proper teaching; We should be thoroughly ashamed of the continuing systematic failures that create such a situation.

I get the point you're making but reading this is bumming me out. Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability. It's estimated that 5 to 10 percent of people are affected. By saying that the teachers are incompetent is dismissive but ultimately minimizes the struggles of the people who have to figure out how to deal with this very real learning difference.

But there isn't any evidence that there's anything fundamentally different about dyslexic students. We have no proof whatsoever that they enter school any different to their non-dyslexic peers, but we do know that they leave school with poorer reading skills. To say that these students are dyslexic, rather than saying that we have failed to teach them to read, is a political rather than scientific decision. We are arbitrarily labelling those most poorly-served by school as learning disabled, for no rational reason other than to absolve the system of blame.

I'm not big on throwing this out there but I've struggled with dyslexia. As an example I wasn't able to read until I was in 5th grade. I can get lost in my own neighborhood. I have trouble learning something without physically writing it down or actually doing the activity. I'm 44 now and I wouldn't say that was a lack of skill from my teachers. When I grew up in the 70's and early 80s there was very little awareness about what to do with kids with dyslexia but it seems like your point is that if these kids just were taught properly then we wouldn't see this symptoms. From my own personal experience I can tell you that's not true at all. I also have a friend who's so dyslexic that he can't drive. He's so crippled by it that he can't even type in his own pin number. If he needs money from the bank I'll drive him and get the cash out of the ATM for him. I'm sure I could teach him how to type in 4 numbers but that's clearly not going to help. This is just a personal story with a sample size of two. I get that. With that said, maybe will shed some light on something that's affected me in a very profound way. best.

There may indeed be no evidence that these students enter school any different from their peers. However, in the absence of evidence, you cannot make any conclusions at all. It does not necessarily follow that the school is at fault, nor does it follow that there is some sort of conspiracy at work. All we can do here is give our opinions.

If a person has a low aptitude for something, then they themselves will naturally tend away from it, and toward things at which they feel they can succeed. I liked programming initially because it fit with how I thought and what I liked to do, so I practiced it and became better. I don’t care that much about cars, so I don’t know a lot about them—just enough to do basic repairs once in a while. So it could very well be that the child has no learning disability and the educator is not at fault. We cannot know without hard data.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck than it probably is a duck.

"Poor reading skills" wouldn't cover the thing that's different in your brain if you've dyslexia. I can't find the stats anymore, but I thought around 40% of the wealth is owned by dyslexic people. Look at a list of entrepreneurs with dyslexia http://www.incomediary.com/top-30-dyslexic-entrepreneurs or how many famous people (actors, writers,.. ) are dyslextic.

All these people have something in common and it's not "just" poor reading skills;) there is definitely something more going on.

I can't offer science but I will offer that my family has had a history of dyslexia on the side of my family that my brother greatly seems to take after. He has used colored overlays, lenses and contacts and it's noticeable for him if he has to go without. He's been wearing them for probably 8 years now, maybe.

It would take some careful research to show helpful (if at all) different fonts are for people with reading difficulties, who after all are still going to be in a world full of standard fonts.

Much of the best research on dyslexia is gathered into the very interesting recent book Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read



by Stanislas Dehaene. There are definitely educational approaches that help prevent the development of dyslexia in young readers or that alleviate it in older readers. Cross-national comparisons of reading in different scripts for differing languages, and comparisons of reading performance with differing typefaces for English (both reported on in the book) don't suggest that letter forms are the MAIN issue in dyslexia, although helping readers notice distinct letter shapes is helpful for readers who don't distinguish them. It would be a good idea to use the kind of brain-imagining studies mentioned by Dehaene (a neuroscientist) to test the usefulness of different fonts for readers who are categorized as having dyslexia.

As they say in Chinese, "實事求是" (the standard English translation is "seek truth from facts," which will do for this Hacker News comment), so whatever helps dyslexic persons, more power to it, but test to make sure how helpful it is and to find out what else would be helpful too.

who after all are still going to be in a world full of standard fonts.

That is true, but one of the advantages of electronics/computers over paper is that you could set this entirely as your only font for the web, your ereader etc.

Is this scientifically-backed or just some guy claiming it's better?

Because I'm not dyslexic, however reading through that text I had a number of dyslexic moments, which would lead me to conclude it's either a very good attempt or a very bad one.

For example, the word "bold" came across as "blood" and other fleeting examples that I can no longer recall.

It looks like a clone of http://www.studiostudio.nl/project-dyslexie. That, IMO, is more smart marketing than science. The only underlying research I can find is http://www.ilo.gw.utwente.nl/ilo/attachments/032_Masterthesi..., which states:

"Results: No significant difference in speed was measured, but there were some positive and negative effects found for the interaction font and dyslexia on the accuracy for reading words and non-words.

Conclusion: Reading with the font “Dyslexie” does not improve the reading speed for reading words. However some specific type of reading errors are decreased, but others are increased. Overall the dyslectics read fewer errors while reading the words printed in the font “Dyslexie”.

Further research in needed to examine the hypotheses that the reading speed and accuracy increases while reading texts that are printed in the font “Dyslexie”."

So, I would treat it as "if it works for you: fine", but I wouldn't start using it in physical print, as some publishers have done.

Speaking as a non-dyslexic, that font is actually really hard to read.

Very interesting project, though.

Speaking as a dyslexic, it hurts my eyes.

I'd love to see some details about why fonts like this are easier for dyslexic people to read.

One theory is that the "heavier" base "anchors" the font, and stops letters dancing.

I have no idea what the research is like.

This old website has some calm information: (http://www.dyslexic.com/fonts)

Before that, I'd like to see some evidence that they are easier for dyslexic people to read.

The idea is that many letters in the Latin-based alphabet are similar (i/j, v/w, b/d/p, etc.) and dyslexics confuse them. The idea of the fonts is emphasize the differences and de-emphasize the similarities.

According to research [1], fonts similar to this don't entirely do the trick, but they help with certain errors.

[1] http://www.ilo.gw.utwente.nl/ilo/attachments/032_Masterthesi... (page 3)

As someone working on a free open-source project that is almost as text-intensive as it can get, I was really happy to see a dyslexia font/typeface that was truly free, when Marco Arment announced it would be included in Instapaper.

The gist of the research is to create typefaces whose characters, even flipped and rotated, cannot be confused at all.

I've seen others like http://redd.it/j277w that, as interesting as the look, weren't free, and as a result come with a lot of problems.

There are two approaches:

1. Client-side typeface support.

2. Service-side typeface support.

People with dyslexia can easily purchase a dyslexia typeface and embed it in their OS and force their browsers to display websites with the new typeface, while service-providers can't always just fork over five bucks and link to the .ttf or .otf file without getting into trouble.

Paid typefaces are great for clients, but aren't always for service-providers.

I have always wondered why Apple have never provided a dyslexia typeface with iOS and OS X. Considering their efforts in accessibility, maybe they don't believe in the efficacy of dyslexia-friendly typefaces.

While there is still a discussion of quality[1] and efficacy to be had, the real news here is that someone made the effort of providing people with a truly free dyslexia typeface, which has been sorely missed to this day.

[1]: I think what irks me is the large font weight even for the regular font. The bold font is barely discernable from the regular.

Thanks for the kind words. :)

Oddly enough, it shows up less bold on a non-windows machine.

Eulexia is an SIL-OFL one that is thinner too. But I haven't worked on the windows font smoothing with that one yet. :-/

Thanks for the typeface. I really appreciate it.

If you want an example of it in action, you can go to a deployed example of my app at http://pygm.us/kzXSwSRV with the log-in admin//password. I haven't gotten around to letting people change their settings, but you can use the button in the sidebar to see it in effect. If you apply the CSS in one of the threads, you may see why I find the font weight to be a bit on the heavy side. But to each their own and all.

Of course, now that Instapaper supports the typeface, you should check it out in it as well, if you have an iOS device.

Thanks again! :)

Regular user of Instapaper. :) As soon as I got an email about it, I upgraded Instapaper to check it out. Made my day. :D

That's interesting. I've received documents from people in the past that have looked like this and my first reaction was always "why did this person send me a document in the ugliest font possible?".

Never thought there was actually a reason for it.

They thought you were dyslexic? (Otherwise, there's no reason to send people text with those fonts---as opposed to using that font in your editor.)

I'm assuming they were dyslexic themselves and found it easier to read that way and assumed everyone else did too, either that or they just forgot to change the font.

I think there is no single font that will help "dyslexics" because many students in our practice have told us different preferences in the font sizes, shapes / serifs, colors, and character spacing re: readability.

As a group, there are some scientific studies which show the need for larger font and increased character spacing, among other issues. The option to customize will help some people though.

In our dyslexia practice, many kids tell us that they prefer Comic Sans with a larger font...the extra shaping of letters helps distinguish mirror letters like b and d.

FWIW, I think your thoughts are more of a reality than just your opinion. Thanks for saying it better than I can. Even in these comments, there are people that love it, and people that can't use it.

There are also many forms of dyslexia. Some are related to letter shapes. Some involve glare, etc. etc. etc. No one solution will help everyone. That is why there are color filters, lenses, rainbow'd lines of text, fonts like these, etc.

In the emails I've gotten the past few days, and since I've started this project, there are people who insist their life has changed, people who just like reading with it, and people who are bothered by it. It's just the nature of things.

edit: spellings and such.

I have tried reading this font, and had a lot of trouble although not dyslexic. What I gather from your posts is that greatest importance is having a font with letters highly distinguishable from one another (so they don't become misinterpreted). As an idea, a set of random dots can be added around each letter. As the person encounters the same letters while reading, they would encounter the same set of random dots for those letters. I am not sure if this would work, but it can be done and tested.

Thats the theory behind "Dyslexic Notation." You can try it if you'd like: https://github.com/antijingoist/AlphaSymbolic

Instapaper has just integrated this font to iOS app. I researched Internet a little bit today and this seems a good and free alternative to dyslexics.

This is really fascinating, and a good addition to all the typography articles currently on the front page. A designer can forget that standards of usability depend on, fittingly, the users. There are broad guidelines, but no objective standards—the narrower the audience, the more specific optimisations are available to you as a designer. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of them.

Was I the only one who thought these were going to be normal fonts with some of the letters switched around?


Is the weird kerning on the lowercase i intentional?

More than anything it reminds me of the Team Fortress 2 font http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/Fonts. I wonder if they're both the result of some optimization process.

I will donate $200 if they release a monospaced version.

This may be of interest to you (non-free):


If you guys are serious, someone opened an issue on github and I replied there.

The positive response really lifts the spirits. :D


I opened a feature request issue on their github about it. https://github.com/antijingoist/open-dyslexic/issues/6

Thanks! Just saw that!

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