More people have difficulty reading than most people think. Low vision, dyslexia, low literacy, and learning disabilities are some of the reasons. Previous posts have covered the topic of plain language and Easy Read. But choosing the right typeface is also important for communicating successfully. Without understanding typefaces, things like colour contrast will make little difference.
Gareth Ford Williams explains key elements in his article. He says claims of some typefaces being more accessible than others are not backed up by evidence.
Different typefaces provide different styles in how letters are formed. For example, Gill Sans upper case ‘i’ and lower case ”l’ and ‘1’ look the same. However, in Verdana they are distinct from each other.
Mirroring is something than young children do. For example, muddling ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘p’ and ‘q’. However, the letter flipping effect can be lifelong.
Spacing or ‘visual crowding’ is another consideration. Some typefaces have the same space between letters regardless of letter width. Helvetica is one example. Calibri has different spacing between letters. A wide letter like m has more space around it than an i or a t. In some cases the letters can look joined up such as ‘ol’ or ‘vv’. Tight letter spacing is not great for people with good vision either.
The article has several good examples to illustrate points made. The title is, A Guide to Understanding What Makes a Typeface Accessible. Williams makes the point that there is no one right typeface. As always, it depends on your audience. However, this article provides great insights into yet another aspect of communicating accessibly. The article is technical in some places.
Thanks to Dawn Campbell on Linked In for alerting me to this article.