A new font — now available for free use on smartphones and in web browsers — may make it easier for people who suffer from dyslexia to communicate digitally. Some recent studies have shown that bottom-heavy fonts — those in which the letters appear a little thinker at the bottom than they do at the top — can provide relief for some dyslexic patients by making them less likely to invert letters and words while reading. OpenDyslexic is available on Android phones for download, as well as through the iOS app openWeb, which converts websites in Safari into the easier to read OpenDyslexic.
Dyslexia can be tough to tackle because its various symptoms don’t manifest in predictable ways. Dyslexia affects patients in a variety of different fashions, meaning that doctors and therapists need a lot of different treatment options at their disposal. While bottom-heavy fonts like OpenDyslexic are far from a cure-all for the condition, they could provide a valuable and surprisingly simple tool to have on hand, simplifying many every day tasks for the people who benefit from them. Researchers don’t yet understand how these new font styles work to improve reading skills, and more work is needed to comprehend the mechanism at work, but while researchers ask why it seems to help, designers are already rolling out fonts in an effort to serve patients.
As typewritten communication like text messages and emails continue to dominate the way we talk to one another — think how many of your phone calls have been replaced by SMS messages in the past few years — ways to make that communication more friendly to dyslexics have been lacking. OpenDyslexic and other fonts like it — most of which are licensed, rather than open source — could improve the quality of life and communication for many patients. Even if it is probably not the most aesthetically appealing font on the printing block, making Comic Sans look kind of sober and dignified by comparison.
(via Medical Xpress)
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