Schools around the country have closed their doors for the summer, but learning continues as states move forward their vacation reading programs to keep student minds active. Yet many students balk at this encouragement. Reading for an estimated five to 10 percent of the student population is difficult, even on the internet, and especially if the letters don’t line up properly for the reader, a problem known as dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a neurological difference, primarily affecting boys, which involves the inability to break a word down into proper sounds; this is also true of writing the sounds out.
Recently, a typeface was developed by Abelardo Gonzalez, who once sat in the seats of these kids. The typeface, known as OpenDyslexic, will help some of the symptoms of dyslexia. OpenDyslexic incorporates wider letter spacing, its own italic style, and heavier-bottomed letters to indicate which way is down. OpenDyslexic can be included in books, devices and apps. Currently The Bible and a few children’s books are using OpenDyslexic in print. In addition, some teacher resources are already available in OpenDyslexic and there are thoughts of including it in school curricula.
When asked in an interview about studies of the benefits of OpenDyslexic, Gonzalez stated, “There are two studies being done that I know of, but not published yet. OpenDyslexic is relatively young. Technically, not even a year past version 1.0. Trials in schools though have been incredibly positive, and I’m hoping to publicly present those results.”
Just this week, July 3, 2013, OpenDyslexic was included as a language choice for reading at Wikipedia. (The Pew Research Center reported in 2011 that more than 50% of internet users visit Wikipedia, 62% of them age 30 and younger.)
A child’s ability to read is critical for his or her state of mind and future. How so? Reading today begins before kindergarten – oftentimes dyslexia is first noticed in preschool. Almost everything outside of gym, recess, and the lunch line involves reading. A child who cannot read as well as others knows that there is a difference, and he is affected emotionally.
Our children must be able to keep abreast of the flow of information. We learn in different ways: by sight (reading), by listening (being read to) and by doing (writing the words, holding the book). For this, the letters must make sense in their brains.
Also, boys are not always fans of fiction. Many prefer nonfiction picture books about cars, trains, motorcycles and history. Advancements and phonetic developments are made when there is true interest. OpenDyslexic can be applied as a download for a child’s reading app, opening the world to him.
What’s truly unique about OpenDyslexic is its origin. Abelardo Gonzalez recognized the need for an affordable typeface (many are expensive). And so, he created one, out of compassion. And he has made it free to individuals, companies and corporations through Creative Commons licensing.
Abelardo Gonzalez, a graduate of Pensacola Christian College, was born in the Bronx and now resides in Boston. He once worked for the A Beka Curriculum Services. A Hometown Hero, he is truly someone who has taken technology and made a difference in the lives of many.
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