Did you know that 5 to 15 percent of Americans—14.5 to 43.5 million children and adults—have dyslexia? This condition falls under numerous classifications, including a reading disability, reading difference, or reading disorder. In addition, the World Wide Web Consortium categorizes dyslexia as a cognitive disability. Fortunately, the best fonts for dyslexia can simplify the web experience for people with this condition.
Although there’s been a big push toward using more graphic and multimedia content on the web, text content still reigns supreme on most sites. Unfortunately, for users with dyslexia, this content can create complex barriers. For example, while users with dyslexia have no trouble seeing text, they may struggle with content containing alphanumeric characters. But providing an accessible font can change their online experience and help make your site more accessible. This blog offers tips for achieving just that.
How Do We Develop The Best Font for Dyslexia?
Accessibility experts have long touted the use of typefaces with specific characteristics, but there’s still work to do. And companies are devising new ways to differentiate letter shapes. For example, in certain typefaces, words like “urn” and “um” can appear almost identical.
Likewise, letters like “p,” “q,” and “g” can be challenging to distinguish. And everyone has probably struggled to differentiate the capital letter “O” from zero (0) with certain typefaces. Ideally, an accessible font shapes letters with care, making them easy to distinguish. It should also form a visual baseline “anchor” to guide users’ eyes better.
San Serif Fonts and Dyslexia
A dyslexic font developed specifically for people with dyslexia provides the best visual representation for accessibility. Nonetheless, numerous san serif fonts can simplify the content experience because they appear less crowded than other fonts. For example, Comic Sans is a much-maligned typeface, but it does increase readability for people with vision-related impairments. That’s likely because this font clearly distinguishes each letter from the other.
This noticeable lettering disparity probably helps people with dyslexia pinpoint specific word elements more easily. So, character irregularity is helpful for many people with dyslexia and perhaps the most crucial takeaway. Even though Comic Sans isn’t tailor-made for people with disabilities, we can learn from it and create even better fonts for those who need them most.
6 Tips on Accessible Fonts for People with Dyslexia
It’s essential to choose the best font for dyslexic readers, but the formatting is equally important. The six tips below are an excellent starting point.
1. Use a font developed specifically for people with dyslexia. Although some san serif fonts increase readability, they still aren’t comparable dyslexia typefaces.
2. Use 12-14 point type for your font sizes.
3. The space that separates each character (tracking) also impacts legibility. This spacing should equal 30% of the average letter’s horizontal dimensions.
4. More space between text lines also makes content easier to read. 1.5/150% is the optimal proportion for spacing between lines.
5. Don’t underline or italicize text because it looks cluttered to people with eye-related impairments. Use bold for emphasis.
6. Don’t use all caps or uppercase text. Lowercase text improves readability.
These Steps Benefit Everyone
It should be apparent to any business leader that making your site more accessible to people with disabilities can only help online sales. One way to achieve that is by integrating the best fonts for dyslexia into your site. But increasing accessibility will also enhance the user experience for all website visitors.
Like most assistive tech tools and initiatives, the steps above simplify your website navigation, regardless of a user’s ability. A cleaner, less cluttered approach to web content enables customers to find what they want and engage with your products and services faster. Most importantly, the web should be accessible to everyone, and the best in this article will give you a foundation for providing an equitable web environment.
Learn More About UserWay’s Dyslexia Friendly Font (UDF)
UDF comes standard on the UserWay Widget and many other powerful accessibility tools. And it’s within the widget, so you don’t have to change the typeface on your website permanently. Please visit the Dyslexia Friendly Font page for more details on this new font and text samples. If you already have the widget installed, go to the features list and click “Dyslexia Friendly” to see this new font for dyslexia in action.
What Defines an Effective Dyslexia Typeface?
Studies have shown that the easiest fonts to read for dyslexia have the following characteristics:
- Sans-serif fonts for easy readability
- Equal space separating letters
- Vertical text instead of angled text
What’s the Best Way to Handle Headings and Formatting?
The most important goal is to provide consistency for people of all abilities to use your site. Heading fonts should be 20% bigger than standard text sizes, and you can always bold text to increase visibility. Also, use your word-processing software to align, justify and indent text. You can also use these apps to provide optimal space between lines and paragraphs for improved readability. And finally, distinguish hyperlinks from headings and other content, so it’s easy to find the primary messaging.
What’s the Best Way to Handle Color?
Use single-color and avoid disruptive patterns with all backgrounds. It’s also crucial to provide substantial color contrast between your text and background. Lastly, consider alternatives to white backgrounds for paper, computer, and visual aids like whiteboards. White can appear too dazzling.