Google Web Fonts and Dyslexia

December 20, 2011, by A. U. Crawford

The text on this site has a specific font. It’s called Andika, and I found it on Google Web Fonts. You don’t know what that is? Most web browsers only understand a handful of fonts like Times or Arial. In the past, if you wanted cool fonts, you had to use an image.

Web Fonts are fairly new and give designers more freedom of choice. The down side is that the various browsers haven’t agreed on which format to use, so enter Google Web Fonts.

Google Web Fonts allow you to scan through hundreds of different fonts. Pick the one(s) you like then simply by adding in a small snippet to the head you can call that font in your CSS. It does add a tiny amount of processing time but you will have to decide if you can live with it or not. For me It’s not noticeable enough.

How is this related to Dyslexia? Basically I have a mild form of Dyslexia.which for me, means that my brain reverses d’s and b’s. I deal with it by reading more carefully. For others it’s worse because it can jumble all kinds of letters. I found out that some fonts help to correct this by making the letters more obviously different.

Dyslexie Font ExampleLike Dyslexie created by Christian Boer, a graphic designer from the Netherlands. Of course this font is not available on Google Web Fonts, but if you learn about how it works you can find other fonts that do similar things. The Font I choose I find helps me to read a little faster and with more clarity.

There’s a good article over at hobo-web about the various things to think about when designing for Dyslexia. You can also Learn more about Dyslexie and it’s creator from the article at Scientific America.

So why use Web Fonts at all?  Why not just use Arial keep putting special font in the images?

When it comes to SEO content is king, and  the content that search engines pay the most attention to is text. The more relevant text you have on you site the better. Also changing text is a heck of a lot easier than changing an image. Though changing an image is easy, you must have the original file, potentially the correct software, and it takes several more steps to do it.

As far as Arial, while I agree Arial is more universal and I think looks better than Verdana (just my opinion), It’s boring.

Dyslexia affects anywhere from 1% to 30% of the population depending on the region. In the US it’s about 10 to 15%. While changing fonts won’t fix it for all Dyslexia, it does aid the readability of the text. Not just for the Dyslexic, but for everyone.

If you are a web designer then definitely give it a try.

Leave a Reply