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Free Font Helps People With Dyslexia

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  • Uhhh well, shit. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:41AM (#41497317)

    Never thought I had dyslexia, never imagined I had problems reading, but holy crap reading a page in anti-dyslexia fonts like this one http://www.pixelscript.net/gilldyslexic/ is like all the words leap off the page making sudden sense in an instant.

    *random expression of surprise at finding something new at age 44*

    • by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:51AM (#41497337)
      Interesting. I think that this font also makes it easier for me to read more quickly, but I wouldn't consider myself dyslexic as I've never felt as though I've had difficulties reading almost any font and read quite frequently. Maybe I'm just thinking that I can read that font more quickly, but for some reason it does seem easier to read. Perhaps it's something that's true for people in general. I'd be curious to see if there have been any studies to determine if this font also improves reading speed for people who haven't been diagnosed or probably wouldn't be diagnosed as dyslexic. All that aside, stuff like this is really awesome. Even though a lot of people like to say or think that the world is going to shit, it's also getting better in a lot of ways for a lot of people.
      • by Dins (2538550) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:50AM (#41497509)
        Actually, it seems to be a little harder to read than normal for me. I've never thought I had dyslexia, though.
      • It would also be interesting to study if certain letter-combinations can be optimised (e.g., specialized ligatures). Or perhaps optimizations at the word-level.

    • by DigMarx (1487459) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:54AM (#41497353)
      I tend to read by seeing an entire line at a time. The page you referenced sort of forced me to read left to right, parsing as I go. I'm not dyslexic either, but I can see how the font may help people by encouraging a "normal" cadence.
      • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:21AM (#41497443) Journal

        The last time I saw a web page with a narrow enough column width that I could read a line at a time was... well, do you remember Netscape Mosaic?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The last time I saw a web page with a narrow enough column width that I could read a line at a time was... well, do you remember Netscape Mosaic?

          Hold the control key, and press plus or roll the mouse wheel upwards. HTH, HAND...

          I learned to speed-read with a speed-reading machine in elementary school. I apparently automatically focus on a few words at a time, but not a whole line.

          • by dgatwood (11270)

            At least in WebKit-based browsers, that only works up to a point. Beyond a certain point, you can't zoom further without editing the page CSS because the column width extends past the edge of the window.

        • by yotto (590067)

          Check out http://readability.com/ [readability.com]

          It's made the web readable again for me.

      • by ballpoint (192660) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:48AM (#41497503)

        Eulexics prefer simple and clean sans-serifs over the spectrum from serifs to ornamental. This font distracts by its irregular features (especially noticeable in g and p).

        The same applies on a larger scale where eulexics prefer undecorated text over the highlighted, underscored, colored and fontful, and a white sheet over magazine style.

        Apparently dyslexics need variety, while eulexics prefer uniformity. Interesting.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, that font actually slowed me down. Maybe it helps on average, with a bigger sample on the side of dyslexic

        • Can you give me a link or something on eulexia? Googling it does not seem to give results. But I have been feeling like a white crow because of my dislike of serifs...

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            You are not alone.

            Down with serifs!

          • by qubezz (520511)
            It's a made up word for the rest of us, eu- meaning "good". It is a reverse euphemism, designed to imply there are two classes of "differently-abled" people, as opposed to dyslexics simply being impaired.
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Color is a big area of interest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotopic_sensitivity_syndrome [wikipedia.org]
        So you will see the testing for and the sale of tinted lens.
      • by tomhath (637240)
        I found the same thing, had to read each word one at a time instead of scanning the line. I suspect part of the reason is because the font size is so big, I tried making it smaller but that made the letters blend together. Hopefully this will help some people but I'll stick to regular sans serif fonts for now.
      • This font makes me wonder if some of the Sixties and Seventies [microsoft.com] poster designers were dyslexic.

    • I notice that when I find myself having a difficult time reading, it's because I'm reading text written by some idiot who likes to use every uncommon word in his vocabulary as often as possible. I imagine that what is going on is that one part of my brain is just scanning my eyes across the text, snapping little photos under the high-res portion of my retina, then passing them along to the next stage in the pipeline. With common language, that next stage can largely guess what a lot of things are, and so
      • by commlinx (1068272) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @04:52AM (#41497673) Journal
        Interesting, I often find the same reading things not succinct and broken into paragraphs.
        • I typed newlines, but apparently Slashdot decided to eat them. I thought it was just a bug with the preview as I've seen it do that before, with the newlines showing up in the final post, but apparently I no longer have any choice but to use <br> tags if I want newlines.
          • by jafiwam (310805)

            It's your settings.

            If you have "post in HTML" (or something like that) enabled, you have to put a paragraph in front of each paragraph to get a new line. Line breaks work too.

            As often as I use P r e and boldface or whatever here, I should set mine back... but I code HTML a lot for work so banging out yet another paragraph tag is fast and I don't have to think about it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, I'm going to make sure that my support group DAM (Mothers Against Dyslexia) hears about this.

    • Never thought I had dyslexia, never imagined I had problems reading, but holy crap reading a page in anti-dyslexia fonts like this one http://www.pixelscript.net/gilldyslexic/ [pixelscript.net] is like all the words leap off the page making sudden sense in an instant.

      I wonder how much simply the font weight (line thickness) affects here. For example, on Windows, try how much the "semi-bold" variant (included in the font) of Segoe UI makes it nicer to read.

    • The letters seem to be somewhere between a true serif and a sans serif font and the typesetter took it easy on the kerning too. I also find it amazingly easy to read, especially because it takes the "straightness" (I don't really know how to describe this) away from most of the letters, especially noticeable in the lowercase "i" and the "l". I have the feeling I can use less brain cycles on deciphering the lettering and I can focus more on the meaning. It looks ugly, and I wouldn't use it for a billboard or

      • The letters seem to be somewhere between a true serif and a sans serif font and the typesetter took it easy on the kerning too. I also find it amazingly easy to read, especially because it takes the "straightness" (I don't really know how to describe this) away from most of the letters, especially noticeable in the lowercase "i" and the "l". I have the feeling I can use less brain cycles on deciphering the lettering and I can focus more on the meaning. It looks ugly, and I wouldn't use it for a billboard or anything, but text passages are written to bring a message through and this font seems to be very good at that.

        That has got to bee the ugliest, worst-kerned rendition of the letter "I", I have ever seen. It actually makes the other text less readable because it unduly distracts on account being so ill-fitting.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      It is interesting, because when I read TFA (I assume in the font in question) it was VERY difficult to read. Gill was better, but the words just didn't come flying off the page. It is too bad, because it would be nice to have a good font that works for everyone.
    • by msauve (701917)
      Dyslexics of the World, Untie!
    • by Snaller (147050)

      Plus, you designed the font, eh? ;)

    • by 7-Vodka (195504)
      The FREE ONE [dyslexicfonts.com] that is the subject of the article is EVEN BETTER. I love it.
    • Well, it seems that I'm obviously not dyslexic, because I can't notice any speed improvement. It all seems the same to me.

    • That is immensely interesting. (No sarcasm)

      For the sake of further experiences with the font, here is mine: I'm normally a self-proclaimed fast and proficient reader and reading this font is no different. No harder and no easier. So it does seem to have very individual and seemingly only beneficial results which is very cool.

    • If I read more than half a page I'd like totally barf.

  • Wohoo! (Score:2, Funny)

    by kh31d4r (2591021)
    No more comic sans? Please?
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)

      No more comic sans? Please?

      Having said this, you'll be pleased to note that yes, there is a Comic Sans Dyslexic version, with the same "weighting" as Gill Dyslexic adds to Gill.

      Internet Rule 135 -- Any sufficiently bad idea provided as an example of what not to do will be done by someone, if only to say someone did it.
      Internet Rule 135, Corollary A -- This goes doubly true for MMORPG players.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Comic sans is one of the best fonts to use for people learning English.

      I'm not really sure why you're bitching about it, it's just a damned font.

      • by yotto (590067)

        I actually like the font, myself. The problem most people (myself included) have with it is that EVERYBODY* used it for about 3 years when setting up their first webpage.

        That, animated gifs, and black backgrounds are completely ruined forever in many people's minds.

        And auto-playing music, but that's inherently wrong** while the others are - in theory - possible to do correctly.

        *Not actually everybody.
        **I never speak in absolutes***, but auto-playing music the first time you visit a page is wrong. Always.
        ***

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:57AM (#41497359) Homepage

    I'm pretty severely dyslexic, and I just plain cannot read his website in that font. The weird shading from top to bottom makes it look like it's been printed on a daisywheel with the platen out of alignment.

    It's so hard to read I had to turn off the stylesheet to make my way through the page.

    • Teh ehll you are ydslexic!

    • by rusty0101 (565565)

      He points out in the comments on his blog post that he has not tested the font completely on Windows browsers. Apparently different browsers in Windows are rendering the font differently though, and he's working on the issue when he has time available. A specific complaint was the appearance that the font is faded at the top for some readers.

      The problem very well may be render-er specific though. The assumption that not all browsers on windows are using the windows font rendering feature. I suspect that thi

    • That can only mean one thing: You're CURED!

  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:57AM (#41497367) Homepage

    I'm torn on this. On the one hand, the OpenDyslexic guy specifically states he intended his project to infringe on the other Dyslexic fonts.

    On the other hand, This Christian Boer guy comes across as having tried to stake a claim on the very idea of using a weighted font to combat Dyslexia.

    On the, er, foot, the comparison image [apathyonline.net] that Boer shows off does have quite a few similarities. And beyond merely the "well duh, they're the same letters" level of similarities.

    On the er, other foot, Holy cow, did not know that you cannot copyright a font. That explains all those $10 CDs with 5000 fonts on them and the like. I presume this means I can go find a copy of WildWord for free online instead of having to pay $TEXAS to replace the old digital download files I lost back in the day?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      see, that's were the misunderstanding lies: wikipedia summarises quite well:

      Under U.S. law, typefaces and the characters they contain are considered to be utilitarian objects whose utility outweighs any merit that may exist in protecting their creative elements. Typefaces are exempt from copyright protection in the United States (Code of Federal Regulations, Ch 37, Sec. 202.1(e); Eltra Corp. vs. Ringer). However, this finding was limited in Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc., wherein it was held

      • by _KiTA_ (241027)

        see, that's were the misunderstanding lies: wikipedia summarises quite well:

        Under U.S. law, typefaces and the characters they contain are considered to be utilitarian objects whose utility outweighs any merit that may exist in protecting their creative elements. Typefaces are exempt from copyright protection in the United States (Code of Federal Regulations, Ch 37, Sec. 202.1(e); Eltra Corp. vs. Ringer). However, this finding was limited in Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc., wherein it was held that scalable computer fonts, i.e., the instructions necessary to render a typeface, constitute a "computer program" for the purposes of copyright law and hence are subject to protection. Hence the computer file(s) associated with a scalable font will generally be protected even though the specific design of the characters is not.

        So in the US I would assume Boers has not claim, but you still can not distribute those CDs :)

        Ah, so you can get around this copyright by simply downloading a PNG (or some form of open Vector format file) of the font, and then converting that to an actual font file?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think it means that the vector description of the scalable glyphs is software. There is some justification to that, as vector drawings consist of paths that are made up of very basic instructions: start here, go there in a straight line, curve to that there using these two control points, end here.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Yes, but it's the PARTICULAR vector description. A different one separately created that has the same visual result is not an infringement.

          • Does this mean that any vector image is considered "software" under US law?

            Does it imply that you could theoretically patent it, or infringe an existing software patent by drawing or rendering a picture?

        • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:30AM (#41497455) Journal

          As I understand it, basically, yes, so long as all you start with is the shape of the font at some size and not the specific set of points that define the lines and curves. You'll also have to choose all the kerning, tracking, and leading values, though, so it isn't quite as trivial as you seem to be suggesting. That said, some tools such as Fontographer can do a halfway decent job of guessing those values....

        • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:35AM (#41497461) Homepage Journal

          Fonts are a lot more complicated than you think. You're not going to easily be able to convert a given imagefile into a font.

          • But if you do, with all the hard work it entails, you're good to go (in the US) even if the font is pixel-identical on all sizes to a proprietary font.

      • Let me clarify (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The typeface design isn't copyrightable, the specification of that typeface *is* copyrightable. This is like saying a classical piece of music isn't copyrightable, but a recording of the BBC Symphonic Orchestra playing the classical piece *is*.

        So if you printed and traced the typeface, even if the design is identical, as long as the control points, rendering hints etc. aren't the same it's not an infringement. The font file is different, the copyrightable parts are different.

        Then to Christian Boers 'moral'

    • by Solandri (704621)

      On the er, other foot, Holy cow, did not know that you cannot copyright a font. That explains all those $10 CDs with 5000 fonts on them and the like.

      Yup. That's the reason a lot of early computer systems came with Arial as their default font. Arial = Helvetica clone, but apparently the copyright holder charged less for licenses than Helvetica's copyright holder. Later, Microsoft commissioned Verdana (Helvetica almost-clone) and Georgia (Times New Roman almost-clone) so they wouldn't have to get licenses

      • Later, Microsoft commissioned Verdana (Helvetica almost-clone) and Georgia (Times New Roman almost-clone) so they wouldn't have to get licenses for Windows' default fonts.

        I thought Verdana was a "humanist" (that is, Frutiger-clone) font, not a "neogrotesque" (Helvetica-clone) font.

    • Torn? That nicely shows the problem with the whole idea of copyright.

      We want to compensate people for their hard work.

      But, we don't want the method of compensation interfering with progress, improvements, fair competition, distribution, and availability.

      Copyright does too well at hindering adoption, and too poorly at compensation. It's become a tool to keep artists under the thumbs of powerful rent seekers. Copyright is hardly the only means of compensating artists. We can do better.

      Use the font

    • by sjames (1099)

      Not really to infringe, but to use the technique known to be more readable to many dyslexics. In fact, he made sure NOT to infringe by re-deriving the whole thing from a free font. The similarities are necessary to the technique. Any font that applies the unusual weighting and asymmetry is going to look similar.

      Not really a legal issue, but perhaps a moral one, $60 per use license is pricy for any font, and particularly for one that is meant to be assistive.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      When you got to 'the foot', you should have used on the gripping hand [catb.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:05AM (#41497385)

    Your typeface doesn't look the same as his typeface. You can't copyright typefaces, and they're all derivative.

    Typically what Adobe does is trademark the name, so there are many Palladins or Pallertrino's and the like, but only one Palatino (tm Adobe/Linotype).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatino

    What Mr Boer is trying to do, is to bully competitors in an effort to block competition. This is not unusual. The world is full of little shits like this. You have to learn to get a thicker skin against them and just ignore him.

    • You can't copyright typefaces

      In the US. I think for this case the Spanish and Dutch laws are more relevant.

    • You can't copyright typefaces

      Is this a particular provision of US law? In the UK, the design of a typeface may be protected by copyright as an artistic work. There are, however, special provisions of copyright law dealing with infringement of artistic copyright in the use of typefaces, in s54, Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 [legislation.gov.uk]:

      (1)It is not an infringement of copyright in an artistic work consisting of the design of a typeface— (a)to use the typeface in the ordinary course of typing, composing

      • Indeed, in the United States, typefaces are exempt from copyright protection. Computer fonts, as a specific implementation of that typeface, however, can be protected as computer software. Though even with that in mind, people can still create visually similar work and distribute the fonts for free if they wish.

        I'm more curious as to why she was quoting US law in her response to the man though regarding the C&D, opposed to Spanish law, seeing as they're both from that area.

        • Indeed, in the United States, typefaces are exempt from copyright protection. Computer fonts, as a specific implementation of that typeface, however, can be protected as computer software. Though even with that in mind, people can still create visually similar work and distribute the fonts for free if they wish.

          Thanks for the information — that's really appreciated. Always nice to learn something new.

  • by Misagon (1135) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:42AM (#41497481)

    ... that frivolous sending of cease-and-desist letters would become illegal.

    • Look up SLAPP - Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. A number of states now have anti-SLAPP laws, though whether this case would be covered under them would be better answered by a lawyer - like many things, it'd depend on the state statute and specifics not really mentioned here.

      It might be part of the reason for dropping charging even a nominal fee for the font - becoming a non-profit activity might trigger more protection. It might even be deductible for even more tax savings than he was get

    • by KaoticEvil (91813)
      I'm drafting a C&D letter now to send to all those companies who send out C&D's....
    • by Solandri (704621)
      The solution is simple. Change the laws so you can sue lawyers for malpractice. They're always talking about how important malpractice lawsuits are for preserving public safety and keeping other professions honest. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        I had a similar idea the other day, penalize lawyers writing a C&D or other demand letter for which they do not, at the time of the writing, have a documented good faith expectation that they could prevail in court.
  • The other guy sent him a D&C letter.

    But I'm not sure what dilation and curettage have to do with free fonts.

  • by Stu101 (1031686) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:13AM (#41497725) Homepage

    Because of the control freakery that Amazon "needs" you can't actually read a book in it. I think Amazon and Google should get the support on this font super quick.

    I am a big user of Amazon e-books and not having the ability to change the fonts kind of defeats a major selling point over old paper books. If Amazon started doing this I suspect they would be repaid several dozen times over with people who appreciate it.

    I think users should be allowed to choose their own font. So what if it looks totally crap. Its personal preference and it doesn't affect anyone else. Let the "Marketing" droids go swivel.

    BTW,I am a bit pissed because I never knew my reading was difficult until I used this font. It's kind of a realisation! And someone is trying to stop me being able to do things better.

    I also understand that Amazon etc are working on licencing it, but if we could change our own font, we wouldn't have the issue.

    • Control freakery? I really don't believe not being able to change your font is Amazon "needing to be a control freak". A good feature to have, sure, but never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity. I wouldn't be surprised if it probably never even crossed the minds of those in charge.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      it's kinda pathetic really, the REB 1100 from nuvo/gemstar/RCA released in 2001 with a dialup modem as it's book store uplink, could have fonts added to it and used with any books in it's 8 Megabyte onboard media or up to 32 Megabyte SMART MEDIA memory card

      it also had a adjustable backlit indiglo display, which was only matched by this year's Nook with backlight
    • I use FBReader http://www.fbreader.org/ [fbreader.org] to read ebooks on my computer. Among many other good things (including the price: free) it has a setting to force an ebook to use the font(s) that you choose.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First thing i thought of was that it looked like the Team fortress 2 fonts [teamfortress.com].

  • ...my favorite graffito
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Compared to ( Mono || Gill ) Dyslexic it is appalling and doesn't even implement the asymmetry of letters that is key to parsing.

  • We can like Yoda read better

  • They're trying to trick dyslexics into paying $96!
  • ...about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac?

    He used to lay awake at night wondering if there was a dog.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein

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