This New Font Is Designed for People With Dyslexia
Thomas Edison had it. So did Henry Ford and Charles Schwab. Richard Branson flaunts it, as do Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary and Daymond John, three of the Sharks on ABC's reality competition series Shark Tank.
And they are far from alone. While an estimated 10 percent of the global population has dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder, it's likely far more prevalent among entrepreneurs. In fact, a 2004 study from the Cass Business School in London found that 35 percent of entrepreneurs in the U.S. show signs of dyslexia.
Branson and Corcoran have been particularly outspoken about dyslexia's many benefits: "It made me more creative, more social and more competitive," Corcoran told Entrepreneur, while Branson wrote that it "actually gave me a great advantage in business, since I have been able to bring a different perspective to problems and challenges, which often enables me to see solutions more clearly."
But despite these long-term advantages, dyslexia can make school a painful experience for students. In the classroom "I was thought to be slow, and indeed I struggled to keep up," Branson wrote.
Luckily, Dutch designer Christian Boer has created a font that he believes will help dyslexic students on this front.
"When they're reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds," he explained to Dezeen magazine. Boer, who is dyslexic himself, noted that many standard typefaces are particularly confusing because they use "twin letters" -- in the typeface Helvetica, for example, the letter 'n' is simply an upside down 'u,' while the letter 'd' is just a backwards 'b' -- which are easy to confuse.
His font, which you can download for free, is designed to minimize such issues by thickening the bottom portions of letters to keep reader's from flipping letters; elongating letters' stick and tail lengths (the portions that descend and ascend past the lines on a page); widening spaces between letters and words; bolding capitals and punctuation marks to mark the end of sentences; and finally, subtly slanting letters that appear similar to make them harder to mix up.
Recent research suggests that his font does, in fact, help dyslexics read faster and with fewer errors, Boer told Slate. Once installed, dyslexic readers can use it to type, print, and surf the web.
Check out the video below to see the differences between Boer's font and traditional fonts.