Christian Boer: Man Invents Font To Help People With Dyslexia

Christian Boer, a 33-year-old Dutch grahic designer, has created a font that makes the task of reading easier for those people who, like himself, have dyslexia.

And he’s giving it away for free.

Boer calls the font “Dyslexie” and first developed the special typeface as a student at the Utrecht Art Academy in the Netherlands. In fact, the font designed to ease reading for those with dyslexia was his final thesis project.

The premise behind the font is both simple and brilliant. The font makes it easier for those with dyslexia to read by varying the shapes of each individual letter by a broader degree. For example, care was taken to make sure that the letters “b” and “d,” both of which are often confused by those with dyslexia, look much different from one another. The different looks of the letters within the font make it harder to confuse what are normally similarly-shaped letters.

Font designed to help people with dyslexia.
One way the font works is by simply adjusting the width of the bottom of the letters and numbers. [Image via Daily Tech]
“Traditional fonts are designed solely from an aesthetic point of view, which means they often have characteristics that make characters difficult to recognize for people with dyslexia,” Boer’s website website reads. “Oftentimes, the letters of a word are confused, turned around or jumbled up because they look too similar.”

Boer designed the font several years ago, seeking a way to make reading a less arduous task for himself. In 2011, Boer won the prestigious Smart Future Minds Award in Amsterdam, and his revolutionary font was covered widely. It has recently gained attention again thanks to outlets devoted to people with special needs such as the Mighty, as well as the fact that the font recently celebrated its 1,000th book published in the font, including The Diary of Anne Frank. Toy manufacturers are also now using the font, and the prestigious Victory and Albert Museum London gave a presentation on the special typeface designed for those with dyslexia, cleverly titled What the Font.

Man designed font to help those with dyslexia read.
The font also works by using a slight slant on the angles of some letters. [Image via Dyslexie Font]
But beyond the awards and commercial successes, research shows that the font is actually an academic and practical success, as well, accomplishing exactly what it was designed to do. Studies show that there is a definite decrease in the flipping and mirroring of letters when reading, which creates a marked increase in ease of reading for those who have dyslexia. Independent studies conducted at the University of Twente and Amsterdam actually showed that almost three quarters of the students surveyed during the studies said they make far fewer mistakes when taking a test written in the font designed for those with dyslexia.

Those with dyslexia have average or above average intelligence, but dyslexia does present a specific kind of challenge when it comes to reading. Those with dyslexia struggle to read words by associating sounds with letters, or letter combinations. They also struggle to recognize “sight words,” or words that occur so frequently withing writings that most readers recognize them instantly, or “on sight,” such as “the” and “in.” Those with dyslexia also face challenges when it comes to spelling, which is referred to as “encoding.” PBS points out that recent research supposes that there are actually two main features of dyslexia.

“First of all, people with dyslexia have weak phonemic awareness. This means that they have difficulty hearing the fine distinctions among individual sounds, or phonemes, of the language. They also have difficulty rhyming and breaking words down into individual sounds. Phonemic awareness relates directly to learning to decode and to spell words. In addition, it takes longer for people with dyslexia to ‘process’ phonemic information, or to make connections between sounds and letters or letter combinations. When reading, people with dyslexia need more time than typical readers to put together individual sounds into words.”

Around 17 percent of the population is believed to have dyslexia.

[Image via Shutterstock]

Share this article: Christian Boer: Man Invents Font To Help People With Dyslexia
More from Inquisitr