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Accessibility: Dyslexic Users: Italic font #434

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shawnthompson opened this Issue Aug 30, 2016 · 11 comments

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@shawnthompson
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shawnthompson commented Aug 30, 2016

I'd like to share a discussion we are having north of the border about using italics and the effect it has on people with Dyslexia.

In this article, 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users, it states:

Italics are sometimes used to highlight text. But you shouldn’t use italicized text because they make letters hard to read. The letters have a jagged line compared to non-italic fonts. The letters also lean over making it hard for dyslexic users to make out the words [6].

This study, Good Fonts for Dyslexia, talks about the different fonts used and the effects it has on the participants of the study.

Curious if anyone here has heard or read anything on italics should be avoided for accessibility reasons?

Thanks again, keep up the good work!

@nattarnoff

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nattarnoff commented Aug 30, 2016

I'm in agreement (for the most part) with this information. However...

  1. They mean pseudo-italics. If you are using a solid font family with an
    italic style it should not have the jagged lines.
  2. Italics are hard to read for most people, but....the letters that often
    give dyslexics trouble (agjJlLqbpd69) in many italic fonts these take on
    different shapes that are harder to confuse.

Sooo....
My recommendations:

  • Don't use pseudo-italics, have an actual font.
  • Don't use at small sizes because all people will struggle to read.
  • Italics MIGHT be ok at large font sizes (20px+).

On Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 8:39 AM, Shawn Thompson notifications@github.com
wrote:

I'd like to share a discussion
wet-boew/wet-boew#7631 we are having north of
the border about using italics and the effect it has on people with
Dyslexia.

In this article, 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users
http://uxmovement.com/content/6-surprising-bad-practices-that-hurt-dyslexic-users/,
it states:

Italics are sometimes used to highlight text. But you shouldn’t use
italicized text because they make letters hard to read. The letters have a
jagged line compared to non-italic fonts. The letters also lean over making
it hard for dyslexic users to make out the words [6].

This study, Good Fonts for Dyslexia
http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/sites/default/files/good_fonts_for_dyslexia_study.pdf,
talks about the different fonts used and the effects it has on the
participants of the study.

Curious if anyone here has heard or read anything on italics should be
avoided for accessibility reasons?

Thanks again, keep up the good work!


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@shawnthompson

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shawnthompson commented Sep 12, 2016

Looks like we are removing all italics from our site. Not using em and changing the font-style for elements like cite and dfn. There's a lot more on that thread if you want to read more about it.

@davatron5000

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davatron5000 commented Jan 27, 2017

Are there any particular resolutions we want to make for this site? I could see a "Quick Tip: Using italics" with @nattarnoff's summation and some of the points from that thread. Outlawing italics is maybe too strong a message, but a "best practices for applying emphasis" would be helpful.

But If no one is interested in writing it, I'll close this issue.

@timwright12

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timwright12 commented Jun 16, 2017

Happy to contribute/repurpose any content from my article about this: http://csskarma.com/blog/dyslexia-typography/

@svinkle

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svinkle commented Jul 9, 2017

@timwright12 I just read your article. Very interesting topic! It would be great if you were able to contribute some of it to the site here. 👍

@svinkle svinkle self-assigned this Jul 9, 2017

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timwright12 commented Jul 10, 2017

@svinkle I'd be happy to contribute! I'll try and carve out some time.

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svinkle commented Sep 2, 2017

@timwright12, any update on the status of this article?

@timwright12

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timwright12 commented Sep 5, 2017

@svinkle nothing quite yet. Just made a big move, hoping to carve out time soon.

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svinkle commented Sep 5, 2017

@timwright12 Cool, no worries! Just wanted to check in. 👍

@Martin-Pitt

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Martin-Pitt commented May 29, 2018

I'd like to chime in as a dyslexic myself and things I learned:

Monotonous walls of text are no good for anybody.

Rich text is fantastic. That is: Add legibility to paragraphs of copy by sprinkling different font weights (e.g. bold), italics and colour.

Underlines can be bad for legibility – if they do not skip ink (e.g. broken up from glyph descenders), otherwise if used sparingly as part of rich text they can be pretty great as well.

Thus practices, or dogma, that outlaw potential for variability in text are just a really bad idea.

The pseudo-italics can be bad if used in micro-copy or if applied monotonously across a whole paragraph.

@ericwbailey

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ericwbailey commented Nov 23, 2018

Closing this issue for inactivity, thank you to everyone for their contributions. Please feel free to re-open the issue if you would like to see the article published.

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