Q: I’ve heard about those dyslexia-friendly fonts…what’s the deal?
A: As of right now (I say this because there is some debate about the topic), dyslexia is recognized solely as a neurobiological disorder, resulting from a significant deficit in phonological processing.
Q: English, please?
A: Dyslexia isn’t a result of someone’s poor eyesight or inability to distinguish one letter from the next. Phonological processing skills are crucial for anyone learning to read and write, because it is the basis for how we distinguish sounds and meaning. Phonological processing is NOT a visual skill. Students in K-2 who are developing these skills should be able to do things like tell you if words rhyme or not, generate a rhyming word, count out syllables, words in a sentence, or sounds in a word, etc. When students have difficulty telling b from d, for example, it isn’t only because they look similar. It’s because they’re having trouble remembering the different sounds associated with two similar-looking visual representations.
Q: Okay so…
A: So, dyslexia-friendly fonts are fine to use. If something works for you, then use it. There may be other neurological deficits, such as the ability to visually process symbols in a timely manner, that are affecting a student’s ability to read. But it’s technically not “dyslexia’s fault” if a font is tough to read!