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Digital Accessibility

What’s in a font?

Posted by: 
on Juli 31, 2023 from Australia

For many web developers, choosing fonts for their sites comes down to aesthetics. However, for people with dyslexia, the choice of font can determine whether text on a page can or cannot be read.

There are two font families, serif and sans serif. For example, Times New Roman is a serif font, and Arial is a sans-serif font. Serif fonts have small serifs or tails on the letters. For a dyslexic user, the presence of serifs on letters can result in words becoming a visually confusing mess. Sans-serif fonts are, as the name suggests, lacking serifs. Sans-serif fonts are a lot less confusing and easy for a dyslexic person to read. The best sans-serif fonts to use are Verdana, Helvetica, or Arial. Cursive fonts, as well as italics for both serif and sans-serif fonts, are among the hardest for those with dyslexia to read. Cursive fonts are popular from a design point of view; however, they are a very inaccessible choice of font.

OpenDyslexic is an open-source font which weights letters in such a way that similar letters cannot be confused with each other. Commonly encountered reading problems like letter hopping and line skipping can still occur with OpenDyslexic. It is a font which takes some time to get used to, and as with everything, it isn’t a fit for everyone. For those who choose to use OpenDyslexic, it can be often a valuable tool. As someone who reads books every night, having the option to use OpenDyslexic on my Kindle app has meant I’m not re-reading sections I missed or reading things incorrectly. Unfortunately, using it on my computer for browsers has not been as smooth a process, as many websites do not function well with the add-on.

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