Christian Boer, a typographer at the firm Studiostudio, based in the Netherlands, has designed a special font for people with dyslexia. The font, called "Dyslexie," uses specially shaped letters to exaggerate some of the differences between letters that dyslexics find hard to distinguish from one another.
How well does it work? A master's thesis by Renske de Leeuw at the University of Twente shows that the font boosts accuracy, but not reading speed; although there are certain words that are now harder to read than before, the net effect is positive. What's needed now, de Leeuw explains, is a more robust research program, testing specific changes to the letterforms to see which ones help dyslexics and which ones don't. You can get a sense of some of the ways in which typography might help by looking at detailed images of the font here.
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.