First Free Digital Font Optimized for Dyslexics Arrives
September 27, 2012 4:47 PM
comment(s) - last by
OpenDyslexic supposedly helps people with this language difficulty read easier
While dyslexia is a diverse and complex language-related learning disability, it can prove a key challenge to reading and writing. The
same is true in the digital world
: people with dyslexia can take longer to process -- or be unable to process -- text that the rest of us would be able to easily mentally parse. Approximately 1 out of every 10 individuals suffers from some form of dyslexia, according to the
International Dyslexia Association
I. Helping Dyslexia Victims With an Affordable Font
The plight of dyslexic individuals served as inspiration to Abelardo Gonzalez, a New Hampshire-based mobile app designer, who devised a clever font to help dyslexics read digital text easier.
The font, dubbed "
", employs a trick in which the bottoms of characters are weighted. Curiously some dyslexic individuals visual processing cortexes rotate images that look slender, making characters appear backwards or upside down. By making the bottom look "heavier" the font reportedly reduces
this kind of visual "bug"
in the brains of people with this disability.
Mr. Gonzalez wasn't the first to use this trick, he explained, but he was the first font designer to make an affordable version. He comments in a
, "I had seen similar fonts, but at the time they were completely unaffordable and so impractical as far as costs go. I figured there's other people who would like the same thing but had the same issues, and so I thought I'd make an open source one that everyone could contribute to and help out with."
"The response has been great: I've had people emailing saying this is the first time they could read text without it looking wiggly or has helped other symptoms of dyslexia."
II. Spreading Across the App Space
The app he made --
-- is free for iPhone and iPad users and modifies the Safari browser to use OpenDyslexic as the enforced font, making most pages' text load with the font-face.
Android owners and owners of jailbroken devices have downloaded the font and used it system-wide on their devices, which allows any app that uses the system's default font for text to display in the special font-face.
Fellow app developers have also taken note. The latest
to add support
is the iOS app
, a popular app that saves webpages for offline reading.
openWeb and Instapaper both use the OpenDyslexic font.
Reportedly many special education teachers in the U.S. and abroad have started using the font to try to help their students read easier. The Kildonan School -- an institute that specializes in dyslexic children -- is interested in conducting a more comprehensive trial to see how broad the improvement is and
what types of dyslexia
are countered by the font.
Sony Corp. (
) and Amazon.com, Inc. (
) have both contacted Mr. Gonzalez about potentially using the font in their e-readers. Google Inc. (
) is also looking to add the font to its
web fonts directory
to allow web developers to use it.
III. Legal Challenges
Fonts are in a gray area of the law -- in some areas (like the U.S.) they are generally exempted from copyright law -- but there are some exceptions/technicalities. That's a key reason why Mr. Gonzalez offers his font for free.
He relates that he was contacted by font designer Christian Boer (who sells an alternative font called dyslexie
for $69 USD
per "single-use" license) to "
cease and desist
" early during his process.
At the time he was charging a nominal fee and did reuse some bitstream-vera-sans characters as the basis for his font. Bitstream-vera-sans'
explicitly allows derivative fonts to be sold (free of fee to the bitstream font creators), however, Mr. Boer was claiming that the offense occurred due to the fact that Mr. Gonzalez had changed the (free) font in a similar way as he had. By all appearances the real issue was that Mr. Gonzalez was offering it for far cheaper than Mr. Boer.
So Mr. Gonzalez went a step further and simply made the font free. He also modified the characters to be more unique (and less-close to Bitstream-vera-sans). Mr. Boer has not filed any lawsuits against Mr. Gonzalez yet, but he's certainly not happy about the new state of affairs -- "free".
Indeed, legal challenges loom for the free font, as it puts an end to a lucrative -- but perhaps exploitive -- digital market. Mr. Gonzalez vows to continue with the project, though, writing, "Why did I continue working on it? The great positive feedback from people who liked my work. And I’m sure my work is why he’s now added an italic version to Dyslexie (see, I did have a positive impact on his life)."
"I’m still working on [OpenDyslexic] after a year, and can only afford to work on it during whatever free time I can afford to schedule, which isn’t much. I have, at any given point, 3 jobs I’m working on."
For paid fonts Mr. Gonzalez now recommends one of Mr. Boer's rivals --
-- which is more reasonable at $20 USD per license. Gill-Dyslexic has a monospace font -- perfect for dyslexic-friendly
or dyslexic-friendly code IDEs.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
9/27/2012 9:45:45 PM
I see the recommended alternative commercial font is currently on special for $10.
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft Office Corner: How to Paste Ascii Art Into OneNote
February 12, 2012, 6:40 PM
Brain Imaging Technique May Predict a Dyslexic Child's Ability to Improve Reading Skills
December 23, 2010, 7:23 AM
Intel Reader Speaks Printed Text, Targets Vision/Learning Impaired
November 11, 2009, 7:43 AM
Verizon Wireless Unlimited LTE Customers Rejoice; Throttling Campaign Canceled
October 1, 2014, 4:57 PM
Quick Note: Apple's iPhone 6 Billboards are Ironically Bent
October 1, 2014, 4:55 PM
Now Verizon Wireless is Jumping on the "Double Data" Bandwagon
October 1, 2014, 2:50 PM
Sprint Counters AT&T’s Double Data Promotion, Offers Even Larger Data Pools
October 1, 2014, 1:38 PM
Report: Microsoft’s Lumia 530 to Hit T-Mobile This Month for $69 Off-contract
October 1, 2014, 9:10 AM
Quick Note: Pebble, Pebble Steel Smartwatches Reduced to $99, $199 Respectively
September 30, 2014, 3:59 PM
Most Popular Articles
New AT&T Mobile Share Value "Double Data" Promotion Lasts Through October
September 28, 2014, 8:32 AM
Update: Apple Releases iOS 8.0.2 Update to Make Up for Botched 8.0.1 Release
September 25, 2014, 8:19 PM
Appalling Negligence: Decade-Old Windows XPe Holes Led to Home Depot Hack
September 8, 2014, 8:58 PM
TiVo Mega Features 24TB of Storage, Can Record Three Years* Worth of TV Content
September 8, 2014, 8:45 AM
FBI Outraged That Apple, Google are Adopting Digital "Locks" to Protect Users
September 26, 2014, 1:00 PM
Latest Blog Posts
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information