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Install the OpenDyslexia font and tell us how it works for you

I’m interested in doing a little science experiment. I’ve read that a commercial font designed by a dyslexic university student apparently didn’t help reading speed, but does help with certain classes of reading errors. Readers of any Freethought Blogs would certainly classify as folks who read a lot on the internet (yeah, yeah, get the “because you talk too much” jokes out of the way now). So, if there are any dyslexics among our readership — and I’m sure there are — I’d like to collect your anecdata on how a similar, open-sourced (read: free) font helps or hinders your reading.

Font demo of OpenDyslexic

A demo of the font provides a good example, in case you’re skeptical about how well this will work in practice. You can download the font for free from this page, because as an open-source project, it is community-driven rather than profit-oriented. Made by dyslexic users, for dyslexic users.

So, if you are dyslexic, and you’d like to participate in giving this font a trial run, I’d love to hear your stories — success or otherwise. FtBloggers primarily generate text, as opposed to other media, and many if not most of our bloggers are interested in accessibility (by extension of being interested in how privilege intersects with our various struggles). So I’d like to know, from people who might benefit from this, if it’s worth my campaigning to get a custom theme based on this font for FtB. The fact that the studies of the commercial offerings are less than ironclad makes me wonder if it’s worth our time.

Comments

  1. mildlymagnificent says

    Having taught a lot of dyslexic students – and living with one husband and two children with the problem (you’d think the universe would grant me just one child who could spell) – the font solves the non-serif problem of not being able to distinguish lower case l, from upper case I, from number 1.

    It also gives the diabolically dyslexic a chance to distinguish b from p, and d from g or q. Doesn’t do anything that I can see for distinguishing b from d which is more common and strongly inhibits accurate writing as well as reading.

    For early readers I much prefer a round apple lower case ‘a’ rather than the one they have there. Looks too much like a reversed, inverted ‘e’ for my taste – likely to give the same reversal confusion as b and d. And for teaching littlies to write, my personal preference is to start with the ball and (various lengths and positions) stick for a,b,c,d,g,o,p,q.

    I’m not surprised that it doesn’t improve reading speed much. Anyone with serious dyslexia has all sorts of associated “organisation” issues relating sounds to written representations being the major one, as well as some odd hand-eye coordination issues for many. Ask any adult dyslexic you know to distinguish right from left, east from west and see if you can pick the habits they’ve acquired to help them out. (You’ll spot many checking their left hand for the wedding ring or to verify that the extended thumb and finger do look like an upper case L.)

  2. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Readers who aren’t helped by the Dyslexie or Open-Dyslexic fonts may also want to try out Lexia Readable, Gill Dyslexic, or Read Regular.

    Sassoon, Myriad Pro, Trebuchet MS, and Comic Sans are sometimes recommended, though they weren’t designed specifically for people with dyslexia.

    Jason: there’s at least one more FOSS font out there, Tiresias Gifford Bold.

  3. Rodney Nelson says

    I see one problem with the font: “b” and “d” are reversed but otherwise identical. They need to be more differentiated like “p” and “q” are.

    mildlymagnificent #1

    you’d think the universe would grant me just one child who could spell

    Thank FSM for spell checkers. My writing would be incoherent without them.

  4. mildlymagnificent says

    Despite the unpopularity of Comic Sans with adults, its easily distinguished I, l, 1 and open lower case ‘a’ have made it the first resort for primary school teachers dealing with problem readers.

    Making more font options available for specialist teachers and tutors involved with reading difficulties is a very, very good idea. Dyslexic students often have idiosyncratic mixtures of problems leading to their reading and writing difficulties. The easier it is for teachers to tailor materials for specific students, the more likely it is that they’ll do it.

  5. says

    While my dyslexia problem is with numbers, AKA dyscalculia, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyscalculia ) mostly, I must say I like this font. It is clearer and as far as I know, I don’t think I’ve transposed anything, esp and including the numbers as I look at the examples of this font, but there weren’t enough numbers used to actually tell. I’ll have to download the font and give it a real test with numbers to be sure, but it looks very good to me.

  6. says

    I just realized, I could test it out on my younger son, who’s 21 and has “Classic dyslexia”, according to the experts. His reading speed is horrid, IMO, but that’s because he’s trying to comprehend at the same time as he reads (not an easy task to explain given I don’t have that type of dyslexia, because he can read, but his dyslexia makes it difficult for him)and his father has a form of dyslexia too. So, minus my older son who seemed to escape any form of dyslexia (lucky him) most of the family has a form of it.

  7. marypoppins says

    My child is checking it out. The initial reaction is that it is easier to read but the font may actually be a little larger.

  8. ImaginesABeach says

    My GirlChild was diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade. After lots of tutoring, she is currently reading at or above grade level, so she has developed the skills to function with her dyslexia. She found the font MORE difficult to read, probably because she has adapted to more common fonts. Will try it with my BoyChild, who has much more trouble with reading and will get back to you.

  9. says

    There are more anecdotes here. So far, all seem positive.

    However, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get this implemented as a theme installed on the site, but it’s certainly possible we could point dyslexic readers to an extension or maybe a Greasemonkey script to do the job for us. Certainly people who benefit from the font on our page could further benefit from the font elsewhere.

    Now my brainmeats are chewing away at how to batch-replace fonts with this one. And how to do it without wrecking every page on the internet. This font is certainly differently-sized than just about any other “standard” one, so I’m sure things would get weird-looking.

  10. didgen says

    When my dyslexic husband comes home I will have him take a look. I swear we read separate books, because the characters never have the same names, nor countries or places when we compare notes. I do cherish the letter he sent me when my job kept me away from home for quite a long time and he told me that he needed me as much as a man in the dessert needed water.

  11. quixote says

    There’s an extension for Firefox (and its offshoots Iceweasel and Pale Moon) called Stylish. (Can be downloaded and installed from addons.mozilla.org.) It puts an icon in the addon bar. Clicking on that gives you the option to add a new style. If you select, say, freethoughtblogs.com a window pops up in which you can specify a font to use for that site or for all sites.

    Example (the bits to add are in bold, the others are part of the popup window):
    ——————————————————————————————
    @namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
    body {font-family: Dyslexie !important;} if you wanted it everywhere
    p {font-family: Dyslexie !important;} if you wanted it everywhere, but only for paragraph text
    @-moz-document domain(“freethoughtblogs.com”) {
    body {font-family: Dyslexie !important;} if you wanted it only on ftblogs
    p {font-family: Dyslexie !important;} if you wanted it on ftblogs, but only for paragraph text
    }
    ———————————————————————————————
    I’m assuming “Dyslexie” is the name of the font the browser understands. If not, put in the real name of the font. You could, of course, use any font you want the same way. The “!important” part forces an override. Many sites don’t need that to respect your choices.

    There may be the equivalent for chrome, or this extension may even work in chrome. Some of them do. No ideas for IE or Safari, though.

    Anyway, just thought this might be of interest as a workaround to test out fonts for people.

  12. quixote says

    (Um, not sure how often moderation queue is checked. I just left a comment about Stylish, which allows the user to decide which fonts a site displays. It went into moderation because it has a couple of links.)

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