The Braille Institute wasn't satisfied with fonts for the vision-impaired. So it had a "hyperlegible" one created – The Eastsider LA

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Updated: September 21, 2021 @ 8:28 am
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East Hollywood — As you read this article you probably don’t know or don’t care what type of font is being used. But for those who are vision-impaired,  the font used can make a big difference when it comes to making text readable.
The Braille Institute needed a font that was particularly easy to read for its visually impaired students. And it turned out, a good one didn’t exist, according to Dezeen magazine.
So a new font was invented: Atkinson Hyperlegible. It’s named after J. Robert Atkinson, who founded the institute and established it in East Hollywood. 
Now, the Braille Institute has made the Atkinson Hyperlegible font available to the public to download and use for free. 
“What makes it different from traditional typography design is that it focuses on letterform distinction to increase character recognition,” the Institute stated on its web site, “ultimately improving readability.”
Applied Design Works developed each letter to have a particularly distinct footprint, a great help for those whose vision is greatly diminished, though not entirely gone.
The font ended up winning design awards. But there’s a trade-off for that readability. Aesthetics.
The Atkinson Hyperlegible alphabet is a jumble of styles – sometimes using serifs, sometimes not, exaggerating some angles. Usually typefaces try to be consistent with these kinds of things, Lizzie Crook said in Dezeen.
But not this time.
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The biggest inconsistency seems to be serifs – the little decorative stroke at the end of a letter stem. In most fonts, either most letters have them (for example, Times New Roman), or none of them do (e.g., Ariel). Atkinson simply uses them where they might help, and doesn’t use them otherwise. The capital T doesn’t have serifs. But the capital I does, helping distinguish it from the lower case l, and the numeral 1, which only has a serif at the top.
Tails on the letters also vary. Some are curved such as in the lower-case q. Others are straight, such as on the upper-case Q, or the lower-case p.
Also, look very closely at the little spurs at the top of the straight line on the lower-case r, or the bottom of the stems for the lower case b and d. They’re tapered, slightly curved.
Beyond that, there just tends to be more space in the letters.
“Making Atkinson Hyperlegible available on Google Fonts means countless more people who can benefit from its accessibility will be able to use it,” said Braille Institute President Peter Mindnich.
Assistant Editor
Barry Lank has worked for newspapers on the East and West Coasts, and earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University. He formerly produced “National Lampoon Presents: The Final Edition.” A native of San Gabriel Valley, he now lives in East Hollywood.
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