What Does Dyslexia Look Like?

Education experts estimate that between 10 and 17 percent of people suffer from some type of dyslexia. (Photo: Levranii/Shutterstock)

When a friend of Victor Widell described to him what it was like to read books and surf the Web with dyslexia, it motivated the coder and developer to come up with a way to visually demonstrate the condition to those who don't know what it's like.

Widell's friend experienced a form of dyslexia in which readers see "jumpy letters" — letters that seem to move around within and between words. So Widell created this page to help other people understand what his friend was experiencing.

Widell also created a bookmarklet that you can add to your toolbar to let you experience something similar to dyslexia on any Web page. I tried it on my Gmail inbox and could barely read the first sentence of the first email before I gave up in frustration.

Many people with dyslexia never get diagnosed, so it's not possible to know exactly how many people suffer from the condition, but the DyslexiaHelp site puts the number between 10 and 17 percent of the population. And not everyone experiences dyslexia in the same way. While some see "jumpy letters," others see gaps between letters or see words upside down or backwards, or have trouble deciphering between letters such as "d" and "b," "p" and "q," or "c" and "e."

In another attempt to help non-dyslexics understand the condition, British graphic designer Dan Britton created a font that forces readers to slow down and concentrate at a level similar to that of someone with dyslexia. His font is not made to show what dyslexia looks like, but rather what it feels like.

Here's a look at the font, followed by a message he typed using it. Can you decipher it?

Dyslexia font
By removing portions of each letter, Britton's font simulates what it feels like for readers with dyslexia. (Photo: Dan Britton)
Message written in dyslexia font
The message, written in Dan Britton's dyslexia-simulating font, is challenging for even the most gifted reader to understand. (Photo: Dan Britton)

Here's what the message actually says:

"This typography is not designed to recreate what it would be like to read if you were dyslexic, it is designed to simulate the feeling of reading with dyslexia by slowing the reading time of the viewer down to a speed of which someone who has dyslexia would read."