One of the aspects that I hide most from people professionally is my dyslexia. While I remain committed to supporting children who are diagnosed and undiagnosed with characteristics of the disability, I often times do the same thing that students with do – over compensate and evade any notion that reading, writing, and athematic do not come naturally for me.
Yet, making the decision to be more public about my disability came with the confession to my recent classmates that I, much like a child or two they have taught, have hidden such a fact from them when they thought they knew me. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to try to explain to someone that reading looks something like this –
Yet the benefits of speaking out, as difficult as it was, far outweighed hiding it.
One classmate and dear friend in particular introduced me to a font designed specifically for people with dyslexia. And while I wrote the name of it down and tucked it away as an item to “get around to it one day” something told me to check it out sooner rather than later and I am glad I did because this font has changed my life.
A font designed specifically for dyslexic’s, has given me a new outlook on my often endless days in front of the computer. Before installing this font, I used to get frequent headaches from straining to read the words on the screen. Often times the words would move or shake and I would have to get up and walk away from a while just to come back and try to focus again. The thought of doing a long project would be painful and I would go out of my way to try to use fonts that other people did not like, just because I thought they were easier to read. Part of what I did not realize I was doing was looking for and often using fonts that were heavily weighed. Fonts like Copper Black and Arial Bold were often staples in my typing arsenal while Calibri was my go-to font for generating a document because I could read it for longer periods of time without getting a headache. Yet none of them allowed me to work a full day even thought they are san-serif fonts and do not normally add to the complications that come with reading when your dyslexic.
While there are other fonts beside OPENDYSLEXIC, this to me has by far been the best. The font also highlights the line or paragraph that you are reading. Another wonderful touch from the great designers. Because of this change I have found myself more productive, have far fewer headaches and feel like a completely different person because I changed my default computer font.
I will warn that people without dyslexia may find that the font to be very difficult to read. Often times I get asked what is wrong with my computer because of my font settings. It has definitely deterred people from sitting down and checking their own email on my computer when I am not around! 🙂
While the signs and symptoms of dyslexia for adults and children may differ, adults who continue to struggle with it often do not have the support that students have. Yet, with font’s like Open Dyslexic there is continued hope in the ongoing efforts to continue to support all those who struggle with the disability. For us in education, Open Dyslexic is as much a teachable moment as it is one to make sure all moments can be more teachable for students with dyslexia!