Dyslexics invert and transpose letters because they confuse letters that look alike. The switching of b and d, for example, is very common because the letters are simply reflections of each other. (In fact, dyslexia is much more common for English readers than readers of other languages, like Italian, in which words are spelled phonetically more than they are in English.)
One of the biggest variables today in how we read are fonts—the visual style of letters. Fonts are designed in part with aesthetic goals, but there are features of fonts that can make reading easier or not. For example, serifs (the little feet on fonts) help us read more quickly by training the eye to run along a straight line. Sans-serifed fonts (like those commonly used on the Web and used on this blog) are easier to read on screens than serifed fonts. Learn more about fonts like Comic Sans here!
If some fonts help us read, could a font alleviate the impact of dyslexia? One graphic designer decided to tackle that question for his master’s thesis. The designer, Christian Boer (who happens to be dyslexic), created a font that minimizes the reflections of specific letters, making it subtly easier for dyslexics to differentiate. For example, b and d are slightly altered such that they are not perfect reflections of each other. Other letters have small changes, like a wider c and a, to help dyslexic readers tell them apart.
When another graduate student tested the font with a group of people with dyslexia, it proved to be effective in reducing errors and easing the physical difficulty dyslexics can experience while reading. You can see an example of the font on the Scientific American website here.
Learn about how dyslexia affects the brain here.
We’re excited about this remarkable way to affect reading. Let’s harness the collective ingenuity of the Hot Word community. What are other ways that the look of language could transform how we read and learn? Share your ideas, and we’ll see if we can brainstorm something as helpful as Christian Boer’s new font.
That is really nice and extremely cool. I also would like to check if my computer has that font. I hope it will help dyslexics.
not really get it
So, what is Boer’s new font’s name?
I think people should use fonts that dyslexics can read easily. It’s very frustrating when you keep reading words wrong, or you can’t even understand a word at all!
Wow! That’s really cool! I can imagine how this discovery will help a lot of people who suffer from dyslexia. Amazing!
Oh, and a very good read. Nicely done, Dictionary.com!
WOW! That’s really interesting. Looks like Percy Jackson wouldn’t have any trouble reading that font…
i think this is a good stragedy for people who are dislexic.
I remember in my childhood, the kids’ books about Babar the Elephant were published using cursive writing! I just could not read them.
“Much for common”? Does this mean “Much more common”?
wow really cool it’s amazing how far we have come,to finally be able to do something about dyslexia!
In the last paragraph, first sentence, it’s Affect, not Effect.
I like “Comic Sans MS” font because it looks the closest to how I write. The font of this text right now shows no difference between ‘I’ and ‘l’ (eye, ell). Comic Sans MS highlights the two lines on the top of the letter I that I usually use when I write.
There’s an error in the third sentence. I think you meant, ‘dyslexia is much MORE common’
Great piece though!
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The person/people who came up with the Greek/Russian/Slavonic alphabet (I think it’s called Cyrillic). Some people say it was Sy Cyrill … was he dyslexic?
This is certainly a very interesting article, although I could point out a few spelling/grammar mistakes (i.e. The last paragraph’s first sentence should not use ‘effect’ as a verb rather than using ‘affect’.)
Positive innovation for once!
All I can say is wow. A great example of technology once again helping to make our lives better. Why didn’t we do this before?
“In fact, dyslexia is much for common for English readers”
Very interesting article! Thanks for all the great links too! It’s interesting how much recycling there is in the Latin alphabet. p d and b are the same letter, just rotated! A c is just an o that’s not quite finished. A Z is just a sideways N. Lazy…or efficient?
You might make a couple quick corrections to the text before everyone pounces on them. I believe “Dyslexia is much for common for English readers” was meant to read “Dyslexia is much more common for English readers.” Also, “effect” in the last paragraph should probably be “affect”.
Not to nit pick or anything, but I’d love to see the comment discussion stay on the appearance on language and not become bogged down by a lot of affect vs. effect flaming. Feel free to delete my comment too if any corrections are made.
Thanks for all the great content! I always learn something when I go to dictionary.com.
=== N.B. “much [for=>more] common for English readers” ===
I dabbled in fonts several decades ago–
1. In font run too-close, vertical sidelines appear as extraneous inking between letters. Possibly, angled rather than curved, sidelines, would increase’ ‘visibility’.
On the other hand, if every letter did it, it might be an alignment, But they don’t.
2. Letters that better depict the sound intended, should help unready readers… (Assuming sound formations are known linearly.)
(This was more common millennia ago, e.g. Heb. Shin looks like front teeth.)
The Font looks good. It is a fantastic idea.
Much more useful than the profiling of potential psychopaths by the manner of their spoken language.
My daughter was constantly reversing letters – E, S, P D, d, b, -even K.
I asked her teacher -3rd grade in the 70’s – what was wrong. She – the teacher – assured me Sharon was doing “just fine.” She said lots of kids have trouble that way and eventually get it sorted out. For the time being, they were teaching my daughter “to think.” Sharon never did learn to write and spell until she enrolled in a junior college and and someone there suspected the cause of her problems in reading and writing. A professional examination resulted in the diagnosis of dyslexia when she was well into her twenties. Neither we, her parents, nor she had ever even heard of dyslexia before that.
Last paragraph, first sentence, “effect” should be “affect”.
So dyslexic readers can sort of read properly now? Great!!
Dd a co-worker distract the typist during this article? What am I talking about? This: (dyslexia is much for common for English readers). Shouldn’t that be ‘dyslexia is much more common for English readers’?
I would just like to correct the last paragraph – “effect” needs to be changed to “affect”. I’m sure this author knows that, and that it merely slipped his attention.
That is so cool! And interesting…..
Isn’t it “sans-serif” fonts? With an extra “s”?
“WOW! That’s really interesting. Looks like Percy Jackson wouldn’t have any trouble reading that font…”
His brain is simply wired to not recognize anything besides Greek and Latin properly, period. It won’t help.
The inexcusably absurd spelling of English causes enormous problems, and not just for dyslexics. When I was a child, I had trouble with “b” and “d” — and I saw only about 4 years ago that some kids in school now have the same confusion. But if phonetic spelling is easier for even dyslexics to cope with, then we really just must admit that the adamantly ANTI-phonetic spelling of English causes huge but entirely unnecessary problems, and make radical change, as to my system of absolutely phonetic writing, Fanetik (www.fanetik.org.). I have changed it since that website appeared, to eliminate most Y- and W-glides except where confusion might otherwise result, but the principle that spelling should ALWAYS reflect pronunciation holds.
cool and interesting at the same time.
Do you know that fonts have changed Steve Job’s life? Early in his college years he had the chance to study font design. And from there all is history.
He was a great human being.
this remarkable way to affect reading – not English! influence?
Illustrations of texts in various fonts would have helped!
Very cool. And very funny sumi.
Once again the discussion has bogged down in the affect/effect & for/from typos – I suggest that once typos are corrected, Dictionary.com should remove all related comments as they are now irrelevant and comfusing.
This is very kool
Somebody up there commented they would prefer entries to refer to the content of the article rather than to grammatical mistakes… sadly, this is an entry in a dictionary, no less. So, to see “SANS-serif” (you know, probably from the French word “sans” meaning “without”, i.e., “without serif”) spelled “san-serif”, well, that is just plain wrong. We come here to learn, and we don’t want to learn mistakes. (In the spirit of full disclosure, the OED has “sanserif”, without a dash; my version of Merriam Webster only has “sans-serif”.)
Who could of thought of that? There are some fonts that really make me mad because I can’t read it at all. Let’s hope this really works……
p.s: Izzy isn’t my real name. lol
If I were a text book publisher, I’d be leaping to get my textbooks into that font.
In fact, I’d be requiring it.
And I’d be funding research into fine-tuning it, and perhaps developing other tweaks to font design that make it easier for people with learning disabilities.
“dyslexia is much more common for English readers than readers of other languages, like Italian, in which words are spelled phonetically more than they are in English”
So the obvious next step is to research genuinely mother-tongue bilingual people who are dyslexic (not a large proportion of the population, granted) to check whether they are equally dyslexic in both languages. If they are not, then obviously othography has something to do with it. This is far more useful than introducing additional variables by comparing Italian dyslexics with English dyslexics.
Why are serifs easier to read on paper and sans serifs easier to read on screen?
Thanks to Christian Boer, whose genuine help has made easy reading for those having difficulty like him….
Thank you for another interesting and informative article.
I wonder if the errors in this paragraph are placed in there for ‘us’ to acknowledge and correct.
This study and thesis is an awesome breakthrough for those that have dyslexia! As a webmaster myself, I appreciate seeing things like this so that I can make things easier for all my readers. I bet you Mr. Christian Boer got an A++ for this thesis work and his professor and university was proud.
this is really fab for ppl who really suffer cos of dyslexia. the confusion dat results frm not understandin the prob can be heartbreakin.
That won’ t be only a master’s thesis. It will be, well… making the world a bit of a better place. I am thankful to Christian Boer in the name of my dyslexic friends.
[...] once was ‘Fordy Slexics’ — It might have been Thirdy-nine — Christian Boers us endlessly — cause our [...]
My first year in Sp.Ed. (1983) I taught a brilliant dyslexic boy to make 9’s correctly through multi-sensory activities. This quiet child burst into my room the next day to tell me he’d made 9’s in the dust on all the equipment in the barn, and when he led his mom out she confirmed that they ALL were going the right direction. Still makes me cry, this bittersweet story. I’ve spent a lot of time modifying materials over the years and the announcement of this FONT discovery will: 1) Alleviate frustration for millions of people, and 2) Help people understand that dyslexics are very bright; it is challenging for them to properly recognize and process certain symbols. IT IS NOT A VISION PROBLEM ~ it has to do with imprints on the brain and is much broader than letter confusion, often affecting writing and math skills.
i think that all dyslexics have different font s that they like the most and that they find it easier to read in differnt fonts and colours
Perhaps in some cases “dyslexic” just means “not properly taught because the government in in charge of your learning”?
“Mike on October 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm: In the last paragraph, first sentence, it’s Affect, not Effect.”
You’re wrong, Mike. “Affect” is the verb, “effect” is the noun. Look at the sentence again.
Wait a minute, I mixed up what you said, because what you said doesn’t actually make sense. The article already DOES use the word “affect”–which, as you said, is correct–not “effect.”
What I want to know is why dyslexia occurs. In other words, how it works in the brain.
I would also like to know why they made ‘Dyslexia’ so hard to spell.
Also, why are some fonts harder to read on screen than in print? Will this new one be one of those?
Wow! I feel so bad for dyslexics and now this font will help them read better! YAY!!!
This article is like an appetizer… good, but not enough! It fails to mention the name of the font (google told me it is called Dyslexie), and even with google I cannot find where to download it. I find it ridiculous that there are so many articles on this amazing new font and no resources on where to get it!
Finally! Someone thought of this! Dyslexie (this new font) will definitely catch on.
This article claims that “dyslexia is much more common for English readers than readers of other languages, like Italian, in which words are spelled phonetically more than they are in English.”
The truth is the prevalence of dyslexia in a population is consistent across languages. What differs is the difficulty dyslexics have in learning to read a given language. (See links below for referneces.)
Further, the statement quoted is meaningless in this context, because all languages written with the Latin alphabet have the issue of the b/d reflection. This has nothing to do with whether the words are phonologically regular.
Links regarding prevalence of dyslexia.
I really hope my question gets answered. Ok, so here it is, why doesn’t the word “develop” have an “e” at the end? Because it would make sense for it to be there.
Schools should drop Times and use this instead…what a difference it would make…
This is really good! I am not dyslexic myself, but reading is my favorite thing to do, and I could not imagine not being able to do it easily. That would be awful. Hopefully this way, more people will be able to properly discover the joys of reading. I hope that didn’t sound sappy.
This is interesting indeed. In regard to Izzy’s comment, actually, yes, Izzy is one of your real names, lest you neglect its objective existence. It is simply not your true/biological name. I can give you an entire dissertation about how the term real is illogical in the sense of how it is often used—p.s., According to the dictionary, nothing is real.
Does anyone know what this font is called and where one can find out more about it?
but does it mean i have to change my habit of writing too?
i write cursive
and most of my boss can’t read it
Tarek keeps telling me that CEO like me needs to write print
not cursive (sorry Tarek’s my boss)
and i really like to use cursive fonts when i type my paper
there was this one time a chinese translator was all like
what the hell is this saying
and luckily, i can speak chinese
so i ended up reading it to the translator and letting him translate it
the chinese boss thought it was funny
so made the deal with us.
my boss thought it was funny, too, and thought i set it up
oh god, that was the most embarrasing and intense moment in my life.
Now that I come to think of it, it does seem more easier to read the Comic Sans, Arial, Calibri, and other similar fonts than the Times New Roman, Cambria, Bookman Old Style, Garamond, and the like. Not that Times New Roman is hard for me to read, but it’s just easier to read Comic Sans…if you know what I mean. But still, I like adding serifs to my writing when I’m being creative. Serifs make writing look somehow more artistic, in my opinion. And lol, Nari. Perhaps they are.
Once again, I’ve gained knowledge and wisdom (lol, actually just some facts)…thanks Dictionary!!
wats it called
Leave it to a person with dyslexia to come up with something this cool. I know it is extraordinarily frustrating for people with dyslexia to read and spell our horrible English language,( E.G. four, forty), however the planet is richer by having those dyslexic brains at work for the rest of us. Congrats on coming up with this. ..and I trust it because the person who designed it is dyslexic. Honestly, and generally speaking, others really wouldn’t understand.
I found that article very interesting. I suspect it will help readers in general. I have eyes that grow tired of reading because the words begin to run together. I will loose the concept when a word is misread as another word. I can see a slight modification in certain letters as well as letter combination helping to offset this and creating a new neural path. Who knows, maybe even improving the rate at which we are able to read english and maintain comprehension longer.
I am really excited now because my sister and i both have dyslexia.
Why should dyslexics be expected to see subtle differences when that can recognize gross differences in letters? This is a stupid idea, poorly thought out and, I will bet a Franklin, never tested.
I have a daughter with Dyslexia. Even though there is training available to her, it’s currently out of our price range. So, until we are able to afford help for her, I’m always looking for other ways to help her overcome her issues. We have discovered many ways that help, for example, because Dyslexics are very visual, Spelling Words not only have pictures as to what their meanings mean to her next to the word, especially the more difficult abstract words such as ‘could’ and ‘would’, but we also incorporate Finger Spelling. These two things alone have greatly increased her Spelling ability. Not only can she associate a picture, but she has the three-dimensional version of the letters presented to her in a manner that she understands. There are, of course, many other things that would make my comment several pages long that we have come across that help her, and actually, I think all people, especially children who are introduced to these procedures at an early age, can benefit from the ways Dyslexics need to be taught.
The general population, unfortunately, doesn’t understand the dilemmas that Dyslexics face. It’s a very difficult road for them to travel upon, and they deal with many prejudices from ignorant individuals. I never really thought that a specific font might actually help a Dyslexic reader. This actually makes a lot of sense. Some fonts, such as Typewriter Font, is much easier to read than others. The subtle difference in the characters strike out at you regardless if you consciously notice it. Now that this has been brought to my attention, I will definitely test this theory. Thank you very much for your research.
This link might help to see the name of the font and how it looks like.
If your not dyslexic or don’t know much about it, then don’t post on here!? Sounds very exciting! Dyslexic people are outside the box thinkers & are creative & solve problems differently than most, so hats off to him. Anything to help someone with any learning disability is a plus no matter how small. This is so encouraging.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
we all know what dyslexia or some sort of meaning towards it but how do find out where to get this font it is silly to battle over the meaning when this whole article is on the new font
I often have trouble telling capital “i” from lower-case “L.” Look the same to me.
whats it called?
@ Shannon et al
All comments must be read and passed by a monitor, before they are added to the thread. They cannot be profane, racist, insulting, etc. As the monitor reads them and realizes that mistakes in the article are being pointed out, (s)he makes the corrections to it. That is why posters near the top refer to errors which people further down don’t see. It said “effect” when Mike read it, but had been changed to “affect” by the time you got here. The articles are not immutable. They do get corrected.
OH…i get it! its all so simple.. how couldn’t figure this our before! its all makes sense now!
i dont get it
I selected the option to read the article in the Dysexie font. Though I am not dyslexic, I found that it helped me focus on the text matter more than other fonts I have seen. Maybe this will be useful to non-dyslexic as well as dyslexic folks.
I am dyslexic. Several years ago I suffered a closed head trauma and had to re learn how to read and write. It took a long time and even now, I still struggle with some letters and words.
I clicked on the Scientific American website , then clicked to read the article in dyslexie.
For the first time in my life ( I am 60), I read without struggling. Tears are streaming down my face and I wish that everything could be written in dyslexie.
I’m not a native English speaker, so I would really really really appreciate if you put back the sound of the words please!!!
Sometimes I look up words just to find out how to pronounce them well, please!!!
Thank you in advance,
This is super cool, wanna my best buds is dyslexic and best fiction character PERCY JACKSON, the new book was fantastic, “the son of neptune” can’t wait till next fall!!! Peace
[...] http://hotword.dictionary.com/fontsfordyslexics/ [...]
i really appreciate this since im dyslexic
I’m sorry for your dyslexia. :[ ^
I know a few dyslexic people. This could really help improve people’s reading and I hope more and more people learn about this. Props to Boer! Amazing work!
REPORTING– an overcorrection: The original word, effect, was correct: to the extent that “this remarkable way,” referring to the touted improved font, was indeed to _effect_ reading, previously _affected_ (off/mis/nonreading).
@ Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry
The apparent intended semantic value of the sentence seems to be, “to change or modify the act(s) already happening, of reading by some people, by improving comprehension and thereby increasing volume.” In that usage the verb “affect” is correct.
Only if (your understanding of) the meaning is, “to cause reading which otherwise would not happen, to occur”, would the verb “effect” be proper.
That is REALLY cool.
Surely that type block used as an illustration isn’t the font that he designed? It’s pretty strange that none of those links to ordinary words (how distracting!) link to something that shows us what he designed. Where is it? What does it look like?
Download? Ah, no. It sounds philanthropic (“I nearly kept it to myself” and “I’m not really a business guy” in a 2011 interview) but in fact Boer has a commercial design company called studiostudio. The designer is asking from €70 / household to over €500 per school location.
NOT ‘LIKE’ – there is a world of people helping others with a handicap (visual, auditive, mobile or other) for free. Screen readers, Braille keyboards, Daisy software (reading CD-books aloud) and much more, most on Linux, a lot on Windows and Apple.
I challenge designers to help people with a visual handicap by designing a good font and sharing it with the accessibility community with an ‘open’ license. See wikipedia for this concept.
i meant reading problem