An awful lot of people are far from blind, but have trouble reading text in certain circumstances, like the ubiquitous "small print." Others have low vision, meaning they aren't totally blind, but could use some help in navigating text. While typographers design fonts for readability as well as beauty, a new font developed by Applied Design Works and the Braille Institute is designed specifically to help those with low vision. Atkinson Hyperlegible was named in honor of J. Robert Atkinson, the founder of the Braille Institute.
“Typefaces that have more character are generally easier to read,” says Craig Dobie, founding creative director at Applied Design Works. Traditional serif faces like Times New Roman have some of that character, but the Braille Institute needed a more contemporary typeface like Helvetica, Dobie says, because the organization is modernizing for the 21st century.
The challenge for modern, sans serif faces is that they accept a certain level of ambiguity. For example: When “Illness” is capitalized in Helvetica, the first three letters look identical. Atkinson Hyperlegible’s small, serif-like flourishes remove these ambiguities.
“It does some things a modernist font doesn't usually do, so it's breaking the rules a little bit,” Dobie says. “But it's breaking the rules for the right reason — to increase legibility.”