Now Hear This: Technology for Dyslexics
Now here’s a technological development journalists, graphic designers and website developers can all get behind.
New on the font scene is OpenDyslexic, a font specifically targeted at online users who also happen to be dyslexic. In the OpenDyslex font, the bottoms of letters are weighted – they appear bolder than the tops of the letters. This feature assists dyslexics’ brains in holding individual letters steady so that words are easier to read.
The OpenDyslexic font is downloadable for free. It is available in regular, bold and italic. Although most learning disability experts advise against the use of italics in text for dyslexics, the OpenDyslexic team has developed a form that is still readable.
The font’s creator, Abelardo Gonzalez, deserves substantial credit for identifying a demographic that is potentially missing out on aspects of the online world due to a frustrating and often misunderstood disability. According to the Dyslexia Research Institute, dyslexia can prohibit dyslexic individuals from finding jobs or taking full advantage of their communities. But the OpenDyslexic font helps to solve this issue.
OpenDyslexic is not the first font of its kind. In 2010, there was Dyslexie. Unlike OpenDyslexic, however, Dyslexie was not free. It’s refreshing to see developers using their skills to create products that help people with learning disabilities. The debut of OpenDyslexic is a reminder of the dearth of such products – especially free ones. In all the coverage of technology advancements, there seems to be very little discussion on technology tackling learning disabilities.
Ten to fifteen percent of Americans have dyslexia. Even more have some sort of learning disability. Meanwhile, there are plenty of young people out there looking to build start-ups and develop useful technologies. Some of them may be overcoming disabilities of their own. It’s time for techies to follow Gonzalez’s lead.
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