Norwegian graphic designer and illustrator Daniel Brokstad has created a new dyslexia-friendly typeface called Inconstant Regular, which aims to “strike a balance between dyslexia legibility and designer usability”.
The typeface has launched today as part of Innocean Berlin and Dyslexia Scotland’s There’s Nothing Comic About Dyslexia campaign. The campaign highlights that the divisive font Comic Sans is one of the easiest for people with dyslexia to read and challenges designers to create their own dyslexia-friendly font using the guidelines created by Innocean Berlin and Dyslexia Scotland.
Brokstad was approached by Innocean Berlin and asked to spearhead the project, which he says was “an interesting design challenge” as he had never created typography “specifically for people with dyslexia” before. Using Comic Sans as a starting point, Brokstad says he set out to create a new typeface that applied its “irregular shapes and less modular repetition” to a “more aesthetically pleasing sans serif” that would appeal to both neurodiverse people and designers alike.
The process began with researching what makes a typeface legible to people with dyslexia and finding other fonts that were “created with this in mind”, according to Brokstad. Despite there being existing typefaces of a similar nature, Brokstad says his aim was to “strike a balance between dyslexia legibility and designer usability”.
Following this, he explains how he sketched out a “huge range of glyphs and concept entry points” and eventually came up with the solution of being “inconsistently inconsistent”. Brokstad says he created “three different stylistic sets” of the font that could then be adapted to become more irregular or more “consistently inconsistent” depending on the preference of whoever is using it.
He adds that some “variable accessibility features” were axed during the design process as they “sacrificed too much of the aesthetic”, defeating the point of winning over both designers and neurodiverse people.
Inconstant Regular went through several design optimisations to improve its legibility, the result being a typeface with “more irregular shapes with less repetition, bigger openings and apertures wider tracking and taller ascenders “, says Brokstad. He adds that the typeface also features a “slight slant to letters” and “exaggerated stem overlaps” which makes it more accessible to the neurodiverse community.
The variable accessibility features mean that designers can change the font to suit them, such as through adjusting the ascender and descender height, the thickness of the bottom and top stems.
Brokstad says that following through with the “consistently inconsistent concept” was one of the project’s challenges, as the typeface still had to feel “part of one font family”. He adds: “Specific rules had to be made per stylistic set to add a level of consistency throughout.”
There is no specific application for the typeface, but it is being launched as a free range of fonts for both commercial and personal use. Brokstad says that “the intention” is that people will use the font for “design work” to increase legibility, adding that releasing it for free meant making it “as accessible as possible” and help raise awareness of it.
“Going through the process of designing this typeface made me look at font legibility from another perspective,” says Brokstad. He explains that, while accessibility cannot always be designed into the “base state” of a typeface, “accessibility features could be a viable option”. Going forward, he says that “specific stylistic sets or variable features” could be designed into typefaces to benefit those in the neurodiverse community who will interact with it.
Inconstant Regular can be downloaded here.