Dyslexie font - activism

There's a title using the Dyslexie font in manuscript – this will be published by Oxford University Press. Can I apply passive activism here… or is that too disruptive? The font license could be identified as high risk, or too costly. I am also struggling to find their EULA… 


This is the paragraph from a book in "teaching the postsecondary music student with disabilities". There is no reference to any empirical research, it is a stand-alone paragraph.

A new font has been developed that makes reading much easier for individuals with dyslexia. The font, dyslexie, is designed for people with dyslexia to read with less effort. Each font character counteracts the symptoms of dyslexia that include changing, rotating, and flipping characters. A sample of dyslexie is shown in Figure 5.1. I now create any Powerpoint visuals with text using dyslexie. Information on purchasing the font can be found at www.dyslexiefont.nl. 



  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 245
    edited August 2016
    Here's a link to some of that missing research (a PDF) that discredits the typeface's ability to improve reading performance for those with dyslexia: http://bit.ly/1ACdkOL

    Regardless of what the font license might say, if it were me, I'd stay well clear of publishing anything touting the cognitive benefits of snake oil.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,974
    See also Bigelow & Holmes survey of the science on type and dyslexia.
    All in all, my conclusions are that certain kinds of typography do offer potential benefits for dyslexic readers, especially on electronic reading devices like tablets and e-books, but that typeface design in particular has not yet been shown to provide statistically significant benefits in reading speed for dyslexics and has shown only mixed results in reading error reduction.

  • Dyslexie is a joke... but so is thinking that typeface design cannot help.
  • @Hrant H. Papazian If you want to find out how it can help, perhaps the aforelinked PDF, from Cory’s post, could set us on a path. But that might be a bit off-topic.

    @Katy Mawhood: I don’t think passive activism is active enough. Between the research Cory cites, the meta-research from Bigelow & Holmes that John cites, and the actual bogus research that underpins the claims to legitimacy that Christian Boer makes, there is ample reason to be actively activist. Of course, doing this touches on a lot of social and financial factors that are yours to disentangle, but the science behind it? It’s misleading at best.
  • @Katy Mawhood in case you haven't tracked it down, the basic license document (for Publishers) can be found as a PDF on their website using this link: http://www.dyslexiefont.com/media-upload/licenses/LicenseDyslexieFontPublishers.pdf

    If you would like to see it in action on the web, Pearson's Project Literacy has embraced it (despite strong discouragement): http://www.projectliteracy.com/
  • Ah, but that "more distinct shapes" is what should make us think: goodbye history.

    BTW overly loose spacing counters immersive reading.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,974
    edited August 2016
    BTW overly loose spacing counters immersive reading.

    What constitutes 'overly' loose spacing? That's question begging.
  • Yes, that is a central question. Those who don't believe it is (and everybody believes something) are at a serious disadvantage in formulating proper empirical testing. Mere technicians who are so enthralled by Big Data that they forget to listen to intuition and deeply contemplate the nature of the beast are not true scientists, hence mostly distract us.

    "When intuition is joined to exact research, it can greatly speed up exact research. There is no substitute for intuition."  — Paul Klee

    And speed can make a qualitative difference.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,974
    Sorry, I forgot that there's no point in engaging with you on this because you're just going to repeat the same assertions that you made for years on Typophile, with the same lack of evidence and the same appeal to intuition. I value intuition very highly, but there is nowhere to go in that conversation other than to agree or disagree on the basis of, well, intuition. If there is anything worth saying about reading as a perceptual and cognitive process, then it's empirical, and if the evidence contradicts intuition, that is actually what makes the topic interesting.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,970
    I value intuition very highly, but there is nowhere to go in that conversation other than to agree or disagree on the basis of, well, intuition

    Not to mention that if one is to rely on intuition, well, some people on the internet have intuited that Dyslexie makes reading easier, so it must be legit.

  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited August 2016
    Hrant, your usage of intuition sounds dangerously congruent to bias, and it's the kind of logic that leads to antivaxxers and creationists.

    As for the Dyslexie font: It makes my eyes bleed. The «research» page says that also adults report faster reading speeds — did they mean adults with dyslexia, or general-populace adults? It certainly slows me down (and gives me migraine).
  • KP MawhoodKP Mawhood Posts: 294
    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. Sadly, editors are busy people – I received this response. I did follow up very briefly, but I suspect we're about to become the licensee of the Dyslexie font.
    I see the issues here, thank you. Let me write to the Dsylexie font folks and request one-time permission for this figure.
    @Cory Maylett Thanks for the link to the research.
  • KP MawhoodKP Mawhood Posts: 294
    @Rob Mientjes What would you suggest in terms of activism? The bias favors positive results, not negative. As these fonts are increasingly adopted, it becomes much more difficult to discredit their findings with any meaningful affect.
  • Here is a simple solution I gave couple of years ago discussing the same argument: If your mind has trouble rotating/shifting/flipping glyph shapes, then you need a simple way to indicate which position is down (ground), no matter the shape orientation. One way is to in-build some sort of directional indicator into the typeface (has to be researched), other is to just use any typeface with underline (not disturbing normal readers in any way):

    Even using text in all-caps, which is bad, is better idea, because the information is coded vertically not rhythmically - so glyph orientation is of no importance, than making bad glyph shapes just for the sake of marking their indication. Some research in unicase is also a good idea...there is just no excuse for making bad type - some may be better at reading it, but the rest of us just get a headache...

  • I can certainly appreciate the suspicion of over-reliance on intuition, which I actually share. In fact the irrefutable scientific proof of saccadic eye movement nicely shot down the general intuition of how we read (which I myself held). I very much value scientific evidence. But it has to be good, otherwise it makes things worse. It's somewhat like lying with statistics; most people are fooled, and those crying foul are generally ignored.

    All the empirical evidence I've seen that refutes the use of the parafovea for reading is flawed, because by design all of it has precluded immersion. Just because my Typo 13 article is about a decade old doesn't mean all the evidence it presents supporting the bouma model of reading (and explaining how the letterwise model is flawed) should be ignored. Many people regularly read far faster than the subjects in Larson's experiments, without loss of comprehension; people saccade 15, even 20 letters ahead, without loss of comprehension; people regress, to maintain comprehension that should have been assured if only the fovea were being used. The letterwise model cannot explain these bits of entirely scientific evidence.

    We need experiments that are designed far more wisely, nor merely in a technically sophisticated way, before we can discount the centuries of anecdotal evidence for things like serifs, small point sizes and tight spacing helping readability. The letterwise model is like a donkey with blinkers; it thinks boumas are not there because it can't see them. Come to think of it, blinkers, almost literally, is what the experiments refuting immersive reading impose on test subjects. The pesky parafovea is not invited.

    Above all else, it has to make sense; and beyond non-immersive, snail's-pace foveal reading the letterwise model does not. But anybody who wants to ignore the "dark matter" relevance of the white in the cohesiveness of reading should just go ahead. In fact nobody will be able to prove they're designing bad type. But those of us crafting notan will know better, and help people read better.
  • Here is a simple solution I gave couple of years ago discussing the same argument: If your mind has trouble rotating/shifting/flipping glyph shapes, then you need a simple way to indicate which position is down (ground), no matter the shape orientation. 
    That would be true, if that was what dyslexia is. But it isn’t. This is a theory popular among the general public but with zero backing from research.

    Fundamentally, Dyslexie has been tested and found to not help dyslexics. The creator misrepresents what little research there is.

    I wrote about this some years back for Communication Arts, and more in my blog
  • Luke FreemanLuke Freeman Posts: 61
    edited August 2016
    I went to his talk at the V&A Friday Late Night Type Friday. I be honest his font seemed to be his solution to his own personal experience with dyslexia, as he explained the process of why Dyslexie was created. It was designed during his time on a design course and found the briefs given by lecturers, had effect on his personal experience with dyslexia. 

    His process was pretty much hacking out parts of a type by distorting the letters shape optical legibility, then extended lowercase letters like y, to have almost a 2nd lower descender. The main point of his talk was, when you read your eye travels and stops at certain letters that cause you to become distracted.  

    During the talk people walked out in a sense of disagreement, and put off with his outcome of drawing type. 

    As someone who suffers with dyslexia, I couldn't adjust to his font it felt uncomfortable. Fonts as sans serif, have optical appearances to make type consistent when used in text. Dyslexie alters that theory, creating a contrast between thick and thin. If you look at the font it's top part of the letterforms are light, then the bottom is heavy.

    Naturally English up bringing we read from left to right, then down the page to the next line. 
    Dyslexie looses that rhythm of reading for me, doesn't become a particle solution, as children who suffer with dyslexia growing up, pretty much your adult life you will notice type changes.

    What was nice was as I left his talk, in contrast to his talk. Colophon Foundry had a workshop testing to see how people could follow the dots that make up to a letter by a stroke in a matter of speed. This was about testing their font Castledown http://www.colophon-foundry.org/fonts/castledown/about-font

    Castledown was a clean font, felt it was a better solution.

    Here is a photo of my proof going to his talk, pretty much 3 people left every 5mins.
    I will try and find my case notes from his talk and findings and private message you.

    I would’nt bother with using it, it wouldn't grow on you as you mature with dyslexia. 

  • A neurologist friend tells me that, in a variety of perceptual maladies similar to dyslexia, new strategies that introduce an unfamiliar element may appear to work at first, but as the brain becomes accustomed to them, it reverts to its old ways. Some of you might remember from Psychology 101 the experiment in which a subject fitted with prism lenses that turn everything upside down will eventually adjust and reverse the effect. Our natural vision is, in fact, upside down, and as babies we adjust to the world as it is supposed to be perceived.

    If this is true, the idea of making fonts that attempt address dyslexia may well be a waste of time. A better strategy might be to change the fonts, or even its sizes and line spacing, at certain time intervals. One can do that on a device such as Kindle. Has this ever been tested?

  • ... change the fonts, or even its sizes and line spacing, at certain time intervals. One can do that on a device such as Kindle. Has this ever been tested?

    That sounds like it would be very distracting - a cure worse than the malady?
  • @Katy Mawhood

    The trouble with creating a passive activism on a font, isn't easy. You have here are reactions and people extracting their insights how they feel about a font perceived in reality. 

    Dyslexie isn't a default font (as those listed on dyslexiahelp are recommended are default fonts) freely installed for global usage. Dyslexie doesn't become a lab rat for testing if it has known improvement for people that suffer with dyslexia – unlike Comic Sans, which ironically enough on the same day and event the creator of Dyslexie was giving a talk at V&A Type Friday was also a talk about Comic Sans being discussed by it's creator Vincent Connare on the love and hate that Comic Sans it receives, that people hate it so much they got ‘married over their passion of hate for it’. 

    Not sure if the theme of the talks was related to dyslexia, it pretty much seemed that way.

    What I’m getting at is it hasn’t been picked up among the design community to get it’s treatment of passive activism. However there have been exposure Dyslexie font, it’s just regurgitated from what the creator of the font says. 

    Let me say this, Dyslexie is always shown in blue, when in black and white it doesn't work because it's distorted contrast. 

    This a nice talk on readability within contrast fonts Wicked Problems in Type Design

  • KP MawhoodKP Mawhood Posts: 294
    I very much think this is going to be published, as "approved by the OUP Board of Delegates and Editorial Board and by our music education advisor, and received endorsements from specialists."

    However, this paper makes quite a nice point:

    …Using a font with claims to improve reading for individuals with dyslexia without evidence to support this claim could result in further frustrations by teachers, parents, and individuals with dyslexia when no differences is observed after changing fonts used. Teachers and other practitioners need to be able to discriminate between those interventions that have been empirically shown to be effective from those that have not… Inert interventions can in fact cause other forms of harm, in depriving resources (time and financial) away from those interventions that have demonstrated efficacy… Further, the use of unsubstantiated interventions can impact the credibility of the profession and lead to the public losing trust in special educators… Finally, the most harm may come when students who have already experienced significant struggle and academic failures related to learning to read, have yet another experience with failure when they are not able to read significantly better in a font designed to do so. A repeated failure experience can further damage students’ self-efficacy and academic self-esteem.

    Wery, Jessica J., and Jennifer A. Diliberto, ‘The Effect of a Specialized Dyslexia Font, OpenDyslexic, on Reading Rate and Accuracy’, Annals of Dyslexia, 2016, 1–14 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11881-016-0127-1&gt;

  • Considering some of the discussion above, this should be relevant:
  • Thank you @Cory Maylett for your account and the parallel you draw between dyscalculia and dyslexia. Merely pressing the "insightful" button didn't seem to do your comment justice :)
  • RaseOneRaseOne Posts: 9
    I for one don't fault them for trying. From my limited understanding there's currently no way to fully or reliably solve the difficulties faced by people with Dyslexia. I think any serious attempt, done in good faith & based on solid theory is a step in the right direction. The exaggerated indications of correct orientation seem likely to provide cues a reader with dyslexia could train themselves to recognize over time and/or use to determine with some effort what is truly correct.

    Some of the studies linked above don't really discount the efficacy of OpenDyslexic but more say it is limited or inconclusive. One in fact says it does do some good & also says that sans-serif & monospaced fonts do some good. OpenDyslexic is sans-serif and the wide spacing is closer to monospace than most fonts. Another says that these type of modifications to glyphs can do some good.

    These fonts are made as an attempt to solve a hard problem. People still argue over serif and sans fonts in terms of which reads faster or easier. It's hard to expect clear results but you've gotta start somewhere & these fonts seem like a start.

    It's probably the claims that bother people. The claims for OpenDyslexic seem less definite than those for Dislexie. 

    If it's the commercial nature of Dyslexie makes it seem shady then maybe try or even contribute to the open source attempt.

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