Is OpenDyslexic Font Easier to Read for People with Dyslexia?

I initially discussed OpenDyslexic font in a previous post and linked to a couple of reviews. One of the reviews was by Mike James, a programmer with dyslexia. James stated that “…it was a relief to get back to a standard font” after trying it out.

It seems that James is not alone in his opinion. I received a critique of the font from a programmer with dyslexia. The programmer (who prefers not to have his name used) echoed James’ opinion. He felt the font was not useful for programming, but it could help with general reading if it were in large print.

The programmer sent us 3 screenshots using Courier New versus OpenDyslexic fonts – the first two in size 10 (standard for programming) and the third is size 18 OpenDyslexic. Click on the screen-shots for better viewing.

Courier New Font size 10

OpenDyslexic Font size 10

OpenDyslexic size 18

“As you can see in the comparisons, the OpenDyslexic font looks terrible at size 10, which is a universal size for programming fonts. Most documents are also written in size 10 or 12 as well, so this does not only apply to viewing source code. When you increase the size of OpenDyslexic to size 18 it then becomes much more readable. This happens because the top half is so thin and the bottom half is so thick that when you increase the size, the top half becomes thick enough for your eyes not to squint. The heavy bottom half is just ignored by your eyes.”

“I also attached some images that compare those characters like B, D, P, and Q to each other with Courier New and OpenDyslexic. I have them at size 10 and size 16. If you notice that the Courier New font is more serif than the OpenDyslexic font which causes each character to be more distinguishable. Serif means those little extra lines on the sides of the letter. Serif fonts are designed in such a way that eyes can scan the characters faster. Non-serif fonts cause the eyes to scan slower. So OpenDyslexic has more non-serif qualities.”

Compare Letters size 10

Compare Letters size 16

“I also compare the flippable letters like lower case B and D and P and Q.  See which one is actually easier to distinguish and at what size.”

Size 10

Size 16

“The issue I have with OpenDyslexic is that it has that bottom heavy theory which I feel does not do anything. You’ll still flip the P and Q because they look so similar. This is why I use my version of P and Q and B and D in the images below where I modify the letter to make it look less like the other but can still be distinguished.”

What do you think? Does OpenDyslexic font help you read text better or do you prefer another font?

–Rita W. El-Haddad

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6 thoughts on “Is OpenDyslexic Font Easier to Read for People with Dyslexia?

  1. I cannot take this comment seriously because the profile picture is very vulgar and inappropriate. Good luck trying to convince professionals with that kind of public image.

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      • From what I read above the issue with Open-Dyslexic is not primarily that it is variable width. The comparisons that I am looking at and the analysis made suggests that the design of bottom heavy and top light is not that good when the font is of a small size.

        Just look at the screenshots as a primary evidence. The smaller the font the worse it looks. It looks ok when the font is big, would work well in a children’s book or web-pages where fonts can be big. But for this case and I assume other cases where fonts are small it causes dizziness.

        There was a researcher who tested it with her students at school and there were very mixed results. So that is another experiment performed on another person’s behalf.

        I like the idea posted about distinguishing between the letters of P,Q,B and D. Again, look at the screenshot comparing those letters in both courier and open-dyslexic in both small and large fonts. They look very similar. Doing that loop thing on the D and tail on Q is kind of a clever idea.

        Would be a good idea to have a linguist (or something) and a psychologist and what not make experiments to test these theories out and see what’s best for dyslexics all around the world.

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  2. Pingback: Dyslexie versus OpenDyslexic | NYC Dyslexia Research

  3. Pingback: Is BeeLine Reader Helpful For People with Dyslexia? | NYC Dyslexia Research

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