Rob Mientjes[ˈmiːn-chəs]

Questions about dyslexia

Starting from big to small, here are some questions I have about dyslexia fonts and the research that tests them and supports them.1

If it is true that ‘we read best what we read most’, what do we read most? In which medium do we read that the most? How do people feel about the fonts they read the most? Is familiarity with a bad font better overall than offering up a new distinctive, dyslexia-focused design?

The distinction between graphemes and phonemes is considered one of the main exhibitions of dyslexia.2 How much is the Latin alphabet suited to attempt to bridge this gap? Or would every grapheme–phoneme-combination be, in essence, language-constrained, or even limited to dialects? And then, does it logically follow that the International Phonetic Alphabet might be a better fit (if not practically or realistically)? If dyslexia functions differently according to the language involved, how does a specific font approach this problem?3 Essentially, is this a font problem or a language problem?

Another chief dyslexic problem is the confusion between similar shapes, such as the bdpq set. Can that be fixed by modifying the descenders or by modifying the bowls? How about both? Which changes benefit readability for everyone?

Translation-style pen-based type design inherently has ‘systematically different’ contrast angles – could that already prevent confusion between b and d?

Is a good dyslexic typeface perhaps simply a distinctive typeface with high information density? Is that not just a particular style of typeface?

  1. Of particular note is the research that purported to scientifically test the Dyslexie font, written by Renske de Leeuw.

  2. Pure alexia

  3. Functional neuroanatomy of developmental dyslexia: the role of orthographic depth – A dozen sources support the notion that a shallow orthography is easier to tackle than a deep orthography.

Published on May 8, 2015