The Infinite Font
Ceramic is the first font shaped to each user’s unique visual impairments. One billion people worldwide experience some form of low vision, categorized as sight between 20/40 and 20/200. The master typeface varies four typographic strategies plus weight to address a range of experiences of low vision. A website tailors it to each user and a browser extension sets the internet in the user's unique font files.
Low vision varies widely in cause and degree but often shares similar expressions: a variety of blurs in the visual field. A number of typographic strategies have been used to aid low vision in several typefaces. All have been static, unchangeable.
The recent introduction of the variable font format allows near infinite end user control of letter characteristics. Ceramic uses this format to adjust to each users’ specific low vision user needs.
The master typeface contains 200 trillion unique iterations, varying four strategies plus weight. Increased distinction decreases misidentification of similar letters (I and l for example). Increased punctuation size helps to clarify sentence structure. Increased apertures prevent confusion between similar shapes, especially at small sizes (c and o, A and 4, for example). Heightened stem heights assist people who read by unique word shapes. Differentiation comes at the expense of traditional legibility so the system tailors type to each user.
This project is in progress. The typeface is nearly complete and software has been prototyped. At the moment, letter spacing is controlled by the browser extension. More sophisticated letter spacing controls are being explored.
I want to say thank you to my advisor on this project Chris Hethrington, my type professor Quinn Keaveney, as well as the Shumka Centre and the Health Design Lab at Emily Carr for helping me explore next steps.