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Auto-adaptive fonts for dyslexics

More reasily eadable.
  [vote for,

This was prompted by the linked idea, and I speak as someone with no direct experience of dyslexia.

It seems that font design is particularly important for dyslexic people, and there has been much discussion (on fora devoted to dyslexia, and probably elsewhere) on choosing or designing suitable fonts. Typically, they try to ensure that letters are distinctive and clear, that things like "p","b","q" and "d" are not mirror-images of eachother, and so on.

Several fonts (both standard and specially adapted) have been found to be better for dyslexics in general. However, I suspect that there is room for improvement.

Above all, it strikes me that most reading is (or can be) done on-line or on a Kindle, which means that there is much more flexibility in the use of fonts to suit individual needs.


I suggest an application which can be an add-on to any electronic text reader - be it a web page, a Kindle book, or a Word document. The purpose of the application is to adapt the font and fine-tune it to the needs of the individual dyslexic reader.

Let's assume it's implemented on a Kindle, for argument's sake.

To begin with, the reader can choose from a wide variety of fonts (including some tailored for dyslexics) according to his/her preference.

The book is then presented in this font.

Once the Kindle has established the reader's speed with this font (for instance, by noting the time between page- turns), it starts to introduce some subtle changes to the font. For instance, it might extend the descenders on "p" and "q" a little, or use a more 'handwriting style' form of "a", or make "m" look less like an upside-down "w" (as is the case in the font you're reading now). It will make just one such change, chosen at random. The reader will barely notice the difference.

After a few more pages, the program sees whether the reading speed has risen or fallen, or is unchanged. If the reading speed has fallen or is unchanged, it goes back to the original font, but tries a new random change (maybe the word spacing is wider, or the line-spacing is altered).

If this change now leads to an increase in reading speed, it is kept, and the programme goes on to try another variation to see if it helps further.

Over the course of many books, the font will gradually evolve to be as readable as possible - *by that individual*. It may look quirky or ugly to a non-dyslexic reader, or even to a different dyslexic person, but it will be ideally suited to that specific reader.


The "tailored font" can be ported across to anything which that person uses for reading electronic text. They can have "their" font on their Kindle, on their iPhone, in their Word documents, on any Web page they browse - anywhere. Any. Where.

It doesn't matter that other people find the font difficult or distracting - the dyslexic person can write a Word document or an email in their own font, and convert it into a "standard" font when they want to send it to someone else.

It may even be that this approach would help in developing "universal" fonts which work well (though not as well as a personalized font) for both dyslexics and non-dyslexics alike. Previous attempts at this have not had a strong evolution/selection component, as far as I can tell.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 04 2011

(??) Prompted by: requesting_20a_20font_20or_20a_20macro_2e
[MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 04 2011]


       One's personal Kindle font would become like one's handwriting: idiosyncratic and (to others) illegible. Cool.   

       [+], if you'll accept a silly vote for a serious idea.
mouseposture, Jun 04 2011

       As long as I can get a serious vote for a silly idea later. Thank you.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 04 2011

       I would use this for the reason mousey gives.
pocmloc, Jun 05 2011

       I'd like to see the exact opposite ie a font adaptation system that gradually imposes dyslexia on the reader.
xenzag, Jun 05 2011

       Brilliant! Nub [+].
Grogster, Jun 05 2011

MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 05 2011

       // xenzag // prolonged exposure to micro gravity environments can cause astronauts to develop reading difficulties similar to dyslexia. NASA make returning astronauts do balancing exercises on arriving home to help reverse this. Xenzag if you spend all of your time laid on your back and not moving that will simulate a micro gravity.   

       So instrument panels for space ships may be an other use for your fonts.+
j paul, Jun 06 2011


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