Accessible typography refers to a difference in the physical ability to read font, focusing on how to make a font design-friendly for the disabled user scene (including temporary and situational disabilities encountered by the non-disabled). Accessible typography design is intended to enable anyone to access information equally, efficiently, and without obstacles in any situation.
Why is it important to implement accessibility in typography？
According to WHO statistics, one out of every seven people has some sort of disability, which means there are more than 1.1 billion people with disabilities around the world (WHO, 2011).
The figure compares population data for different disabilities with the number of native speakers of different languages globally. As can be seen from the picture, there are more color-blind people than native English speakers. The lack of data on Cognitive disorders, dyslexia or aphasia in this chart is not because the numbers are small, but because there are no reliable global statistics. If U.S. statistics were used in the same proportion(Plassman, 2011), 2 billion out of 7.8 billion people would have different levels of cognitive difficulties (no.6).
Also, a group of people with low barriers do not identify themselves as “disabled” or “accessible users.” For example, most older people are technically disabled. Among the visual impairment, 65% are 65 years old or above (WHO, 2011), and populations in industrialized countries are ageing. As their age, the number of people with disabilities increases. These growing groups’ needs are large, and this needs to be taken into account in information and communication technology (Hans, 2014). Besides, all people encounter situational and temporary disabilities in their daily lives. For example, a morning rush without coffee is a temporary cognitive impairment; Or when people do an ophthalmic dilatation examination, it is a temporary visual impairment. Therefore, the impact of disability is much more significant than the above figure.
Therefore, achieving accessibility in typography can enable disabled users to obtain information normally; It also provides a better reading experience for the average person.
After knowing the importance of accessible typography, this blog will through Dyslexia, Aphasia and Blindness as examples to introduce: What are these disabilities are? How these disabilities affect the reading experience of people? Moreover and most importantly, how designers address them specifically to achieve accessibility in typography.
“World Report on Disability.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2011, www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241564182.
Persson, Hans, et al. “Universal Design, Inclusive Design, Accessible Design, Design for all: Different concepts—one Goal? on the Concept of accessibility—historical, Methodological and Philosophical Aspects.” Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014; 2015;, pp. 505-526.
Plassman, Brenda L et al. “Incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment, not dementia in the United States.” Annals of neurology vol. 70,3 (2011): 418-26. doi:10.1002/ana.22362