Dyslexia and Me: Ayyy! It’s the Fontz

Source: Family Guy

Source: Family Guy

Maybe I should have a ‘Dyslexia: What really grinds my gears’ section because next to the ‘you should buy Irlen Lenses’ comments when I mention the visual problems I have, number two on my list is ‘you should try *insert name of font here*. I hear that it’s a great font to help dyslexic people with reading’. Well here are my thoughts. 

Since I started blogging a year ago I was unaware of all these different fonts that have been created and described as being ‘dyslexia friendly’. The thing is, dyslexia is different for every person. There are common traits, but everyone experiences it differently. Plus, I have scotopic sensitivity and dyspraxia too, which not all people with dyslexia will have.

When I read, I like to read clear and crisp fonts where there are no tails on letters that confuse my eyes. The like of Arial, Calibri, Verdana are fonts that I regularly use when typing essays or reading if I am able to change the font.

Fonts I hate are those like Garamond, Bookman, Times New Roman which have tails on the letters. They make my eyes go funny as they try to work out where one letter ends and the following one starts.

The cleaner the font is, the easier I find it to read. Arial, Calibri and Verdana are all fonts that tend to come free with the likes of MS Word etc so they’re easy to incorporate into a school environment, the workplace or on the internet/for public use.

When it was first suggested that I could be dyslexic at college (before I was diagnosed) they suggested that I used Comic Sans as a font. Now, while Comic Sans is a font that I can read without the problem of tails, it’s a really ugly-looking font that I would really rather avoid using at all costs! It’s not aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

With that in mind (the aesthetically pleasing part especially) when I have been linked to or asked my thoughts on fonts specifically created for dyslexic people, what I would be looking for is something where each letter is clear and crisp enough not to merge with the character next to it. It doesn’t stop my eyes from doing their own crazy visual stress/scotopic thing, but it makes it slightly easier. However, I have found that a lot of the designed fonts either make reading harder for me or they’re just ugly!!!

Here are some visuals!

This example from http://therealkatie.net is exactly what I mean by tails on letters. These types of fonts are called Sans Serif which, according to http://kevintomasso.com means:

“Sans” is a French word meaning, “without,” and Sans Serif typefaces are just that, type without serifs. Sans serif fonts are usually of the monoweight variety, and can come in many different thicknesses.

Sans serif typefaces are extremely versatile, and can be used for headlines and body copy alike. Sans serif fonts have been shown to be easier on the eyes in digital forms of body copy (you’ll notice most websites use sans-serif fonts).

Letters of the same thickness and without the Serif (or tails) are the kind of fonts that I, as a dyslexic with scotopic sensitivity, look for.

Open Dyslexic, Dyslexie, Gill Dyslexic to me are not aesthetically pleasing. They are ugly and really don’t help my reading at all. While some dyslexics may find these fonts useful, to suggest that they are ‘dyslexic friendly’ feels slightly patronising. I’m dyslexic but I don’t find them ‘friendly’ at all!

So, for my dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers, which fonts do you prefer?

Posted on February 9, 2015, in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Every dyslexic’s dyslexia is unique to them. Every dyslexic’s life experiences are different. So there is no one size fits all solution to dyslexia. Any one who tries to sell a one size fits all dyslexia solution just does not understand dyslexia. We have to find what works for us and what might work for us may not work for anyone else. Me I prefer comic sans but it has fallen out of favour so I no longer use it. Now, in my blogs I use verdana large with a light blue background. Here is a dyslexia story I called verdana veranda for ages lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have visual sensitivity and dyspraxia and like you prefer Verdana and others on your list.
    The fix mentality does grate with me and think they should be presented as potentially helpful.
    I benefit from changing the colour of the background and text colour as well as the space between the lines.
    My daughter also has visual sensitivity and dyspraxia and feels the same. It is not a fix but makes it less energy draining and a bit more comfortable to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Highlighting these fonts as an option is great, but I’ve seen too many people assuming that it’s the answer through the way these fonts have been advertised or discussed. I find that they make my reading worse rather than better. We are all different and though it may help some, calling them a dyslexic friendly font I can’t fully get behind.


  3. ‘Dyslexics think in pictures’…exactly!!! I was diagnosed ‘word blind’ at 8 years old in the 60’s..given no extra help after that I might add…and I know that every word I read has a particular ‘shape’…a picture. Fussy fonts mess this up so I also prefer plain ones…but tbh the special dyslexic ones make no difference to my reading. It’s writing that has always been the problem…as I write I get the letters mixed up or backwards. I’m aware that the word is wrong but not until the ‘shape’ is revealed. Typing is a godsend because I can correct the mistakes..I so wish I had been allowed to use a typewriter in school! So no..special fonts no help to me…and I agree that everyone’s dyslexia is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Dyslexia and Me: Ayyy! It’s the Fontz | NYC Dyslexia Research

  2. Pingback: Dyslexia and Me: My Ideal App « Dyslexia and Me

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