For people with dyslexia, reading can be a significant challenge. Dyslexia is a neurodivergent condition that affects one’s ability to read and process written language. It can also affect an individual’s ability to write and spell. However, choosing the right font can help improve readability and reduce the strain on dyslexic readers. In this blog, we will discuss what font styles are appropriate for dyslexic employees and why it matters.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects approximately 10% of the population. Dyslexia affects the way individuals process written language. It can make it challenging to recognise letters and words, leading to difficulties with reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. Dyslexia is not related to intelligence, and individuals with dyslexia can be highly intelligent and creative.
How Fonts Can Help Dyslexic Employees
Fonts can have a significant impact on how easy or difficult it is for someone with dyslexia to read text. Some fonts are more dyslexia-friendly than others because they have unique features that make reading more comfortable for people with dyslexia. These features can include wider spacing, larger letterforms, more significant contrast between the letters and the background, and shapes that make letters easier to distinguish.
Some of the most dyslexia-friendly fonts include Arial, Comic Sans, Verdana, and Open Dyslexic. Let’s take a closer look at these font styles and why they are beneficial for dyslexic readers.
Arial is a sans-serif font that is commonly used in various applications, including print and digital media. Arial is an excellent font for dyslexic readers because it has a clean, straightforward design with clear letterforms that are easy to read. The font has a high level of contrast, making it easier to distinguish between letters and words.
Comic Sans is a widely debated font that is often criticised for its informal design. However, for dyslexic readers, Comic Sans is one of the most effective fonts because it is designed with a unique set of features that make it easier to read. The font has a larger letterform, wider spacing, and a simple design that makes it easier to distinguish between letters and words.
Verdana is another sans-serif font that is commonly used in digital media. The font has a clean, straightforward design with clear letterforms that are easy to read. Verdana is an excellent font for dyslexic readers because it has a high level of contrast between the letters and the background, making it easier to distinguish between letters and words.
Open Dyslexic is a font that was specifically designed for dyslexic readers. The font has unique features that make it easier to read for individuals with dyslexia. The letters have a more substantial bottom, which provides a more stable base and makes it easier to distinguish between letters. The font also has wider spacing between letters, making it easier to read.
Why Font Style Matters for Dyslexic Employees
The font style matters for dyslexic employees because it can impact their ability to read and comprehend written material. Dyslexia can make reading a challenging task, and certain font styles can exacerbate the difficulty. Fonts with thin letterforms, close spacing, and low contrast can make reading more challenging for dyslexic readers. This can result in slower reading times, increased eye strain, and reduced comprehension.
Choosing the right font style can make a significant difference for dyslexic employees. Dyslexia-friendly fonts can help reduce eye strain, improve reading speed, and increase reading comprehension. Dyslexia-friendly fonts are essential in creating an inclusive workplace where everyone has equal access to information.
Practical Tips for Choosing Dyslexia-Friendly Fonts
Consider using Sans Serif Fonts
Sans serif fonts are a popular choice for dyslexic individuals because they are simple and easy to read. The lack of extra flourishes on the letters make them easier to recognise, making it less likely for the reader to get lost in the text.
One popular sans serif font that has been designed specifically for dyslexia is Dyslexie. Created by Christian Boer, a Dutch graphic designer who himself has dyslexia, Dyslexie is a typeface that incorporates subtle changes to letter shapes to make it easier for dyslexic individuals to distinguish between similar letters such as b, d, p, and q. The font also includes wider spaces between letters and slightly elongated stems to help prevent letters from blurring together.
Other sans serif fonts that may be suitable for dyslexic readers include Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Helvetica.
Consider the Font Size
Font size is another important factor to consider when choosing a font for dyslexic readers. Small text can be difficult to read, especially for individuals with dyslexia. However, excessively large text can also be problematic, as it can be overwhelming and difficult to process.
A font size of 12-14 point is generally recommended for printed materials. For digital materials, it may be useful to provide the option to increase the font size using the zoom feature or by adjusting the settings on their device.
Consider the Contrast
High contrast between the text and the background can make it easier for dyslexic readers to distinguish individual letters and words. However, excessive contrast can be just as problematic as low contrast.
When choosing font and background colours, it is important to strike a balance between contrast and legibility. A light background with dark text or a dark background with light text is usually the best option. Avoid using busy or patterned backgrounds, as they can be distracting and make it harder to focus on the text.
Consider the Layout
The layout of the text can also have a significant impact on readability for dyslexic individuals. Dense blocks of text can be overwhelming and difficult to process, making it harder to focus on the content.
To make text more manageable, consider breaking it up into shorter paragraphs. Use headings and subheadings to help organise the content and make it easier to navigate. Leave plenty of white space between paragraphs to give the eyes a break and to make it easier to distinguish between different sections of the text.
Consider Providing Audio Options
For some dyslexic individuals, listening to text rather than reading it can be a more effective way to process information. Providing an audio option, such as an audiobook or text-to-speech software, can be a useful accommodation.
Text-to-speech software can read text out loud in a natural-sounding voice, allowing dyslexic readers to listen to the text while following along with the written words. This can be especially helpful for individuals who struggle with decoding written text or have difficulty with reading comprehension.
Real-World Examples of Dyslexia-Friendly Fonts
There are many examples of companies and organisations that have implemented dyslexia-friendly fonts in their marketing materials, websites, and products. Here are just a few examples:
- The IKEA catalog, one of the largest and most widely distributed catalogs in the world, has been printed in the Dyslexie font
- Amazon has introduced a font called “Bookerly” that was designed to improve the reading experience for users of its Kindle e-readers. The font has been found to be particularly helpful for dyslexic readers because it is easier to read at smaller sizes and has a slightly larger character spacing than other fonts.
- McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland changed its drive-thru menus to use the “Dyslexia-friendly” font earlier this year. The fast-food giant adopted the font after a trial with the British Dyslexia Association found that it could help improve ordering accuracy for dyslexic customers.
- In 2017, Tesco, a UK-based supermarket, launched a new range of own-brand packaging featuring a dyslexia-friendly font. The font, called “Dyslexie,” was designed by a dyslexic graphic designer, Christian Boer. The font has been specifically designed to make reading easier for dyslexic people, with unique letter shapes and spacing.
In conclusion, selecting an appropriate font style is essential for creating accessible and inclusive documents for dyslexic individuals. Fonts that are simple, clean, and easy to read are best, while decorative or complex fonts should be avoided.
It’s also important to consider other factors that can impact readability, such as line spacing, margins, and paper colour. By making simple adjustments to the layout and presentation of documents, dyslexic individuals can more easily access and understand the information.
As employers and colleagues, we have a responsibility to create an inclusive and accommodating workplace for everyone. By taking the time to consider the needs of dyslexic individuals and making simple adjustments, we can create a more accessible and inclusive environment for all.