In a previous post I shared an article from the Wall Street Journal about the connection between dyslexia and visual thinking.  One of many artists and designers with dyslexia, Christian Boer of Studiostudio, has designed a font specifically for people with dyslexia (thanks to Jason Kottke for turning me on to this.)

a sample of Dyslexie font

The visual processing of letters is difficult for people with dyslexia because their brains transpose and rotate letters, turning sense into chaos.  The chaos is encouraged by the similarity of so many English letters – with “b”  “d”  “p” and  “q,” for example, we have one shape creating four different letters.  Boer added weight to the bottoms of letters so they would be less likely to transpose themselves, changed the internal shapes of letters to make them more unique, gave  some letters longer tails and created bigger, more distinct punctuation so that sentence boundaries were clearer.

[If you have a slow download and tend to skip videos, here is a Studiostudio page that explains the changes.]

A Dutch study that found that people with dyslexia using Boer’s “Dyslexie” font made fewer reading errors than the control group.  What an encouraging possibility – something as simple as a change in font can give dyslexics an increased ability to control those frisky letters.

I want my students to have this tool.  I found an address for Lexica, which is apparently the company in the Netherlands that has the rights to the font.  I wrote and asked, got a lengthy reply in Dutch, and immediately shipped it off to my beloved Dutch sister-in-law (ah, the serendipity….)  Apparently it is not being marketed to individuals, only schools and institutions and is priced accordingly.

However, in my Google explorations, I found a blog pointing out that the font Comic Sans  has similar characteristics that stabilize the letters for people with dyslexia.  I don’t know if all my students with dyslexia already know this, but if not, I plan to share.  I know there is a lot of hostility out there about Comic Sans but I don’t know why, and if it will help my students read better, I most surely don’t care.

I do intend to talk to our disability support office and see if they can hustle up the money somehow.  But until that happy day, I am going to revisit using Comic Sans as my font of choice and be grateful that Christian Boer’s new font has deepened my understanding of dyslexia and how to help my students who have it.

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