Are some fonts more accessible than others?
With thousands of fonts to choose from, selecting a font with accessibility in mind is no easy task. Several fonts have been developed specifically to address the needs of individuals with reading-related disabilities such as dyslexia. Examples include OpenDyslexic, Dyslexie, Read Regular, and Lexie Readable.
Research studies on whether particular fonts have an effect on reading speed and comprehension report mixed results. Adrian Roselli's article Typefaces for Dyslexia, originally published in 2015 and subsequently updated multiple times with new information, reviewed many of these studies and offers the following general tips that are "generally agreed upon by the community":
- Avoid justified text.
- Use generous line spacing (leading).
- Use generous letter spacing (tracking).
- Avoid italics.
- Generally use sans serif faces.
- Use larger text.
- Use good contrast.
- Use clear, concise writing.
The organization Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) offers similar guidance on choosing an accessible font in their article Fonts, which was published in 2013:
- Use real text rather than text within graphics.
- Select basic, simple, easily-readable fonts.
- Use a limited number of fonts.
- Ensure sufficient contrast between the text and the background.
- Avoid small font sizes.
- Use relative units for font size.
- Limit the use of font variations such as bold, italics, and ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
- Don't rely only on the appearance of the font (color, shape, font variation, placement, etc.) to convey meaning.
- Avoid blinking or moving text.