Thursday, April 21, 2005

An Exciting New Typeface

Okay, normally, I’m not one to get all excited over a new font. Sure, choosing the right font is important, but I don’t normally tell the world about it. On Monday, however, The Times had an article about a new typeface that is helping dyslexic people overcome reading difficulties.

Natascha Frensch designed the new Read Regular font when she was studying at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Here’s why it’s interesting:

It seems that with most fonts, there are relatively few unique letters because a ‘b’ is inverted to make a ‘d’ and, when turned upside down, makes a ‘p’ which is then inverted to make a ‘q’. With the Read Regular font, however, ‘each letter has been designed so that it is sufficiently different and does not mirror another. Each character stands on its own and works with the previous or next character, but without interfering with legibility.’

Read Regular has also been designed to counter three common types of effects sometimes experienced by dyslexic people: the washout effect (where the middle of the word seems to fade out), the river effect (which groups words and seems to place random spaces between groups), and the swirl effect (where the words in the reader’s peripheral vision become blurred).

It is said that Read Regular works much better than other fonts designed for dyslexic readers because the Read Regular font looks much like regular type but includes enough subtle differences in letters that many struggling readers are easily able to read more quickly and fluently. Here in the UK, Chrysalis Books is planning on using Read Regular for all its textbooks for primary schools.

So, what does this all mean? It’s no magic pill to help dyslexic people learn to read better. But, if the learning process if aided simply by using a different font, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

More information is available at this website:


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