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Bionic Reading may be the game changer font for neurodivergent readers

Reading is a great pastime when you want to just unwind and relax, but for some, reading through blocks of texts is a challenge. Most likely within the neurodivergent spectrum, there are readers out there who struggle to thoroughly enjoy a book. Blocks of texts become overwhelming to understand over time, which eventually force these readers to skim over words and not focus well on the content. However, a new typeface has recently been developed, and it could be a real game-changer for neurodivergent readers.

Bionic reading is a new Application Programming Interface (API) that aims to improve one’s reading skills. It is a new typeface wherein the first few letters of the words are in bold, which then acts as “fixation points” to help guide the eyes more easily through the text. With the fixation points, readers only need to focus on the letters that are in bold while the brain center completes the words. The initial few letters of the text are in bold to help readers focus on the content.

The concept of bionic reading was shared on Twitter, and while some people seemed pleased with it, some expressed their disappointment because it didn’t work for them when they tried it out.

Renato Casutt, one of the developers of Bionic Reading, had taken notice of the mixed reactions to the new typeface. In response, he created a Twitter thread on May 24, 2022, detailing the background of the project. Casutt shared that the idea of Bionic Reading already existed as early as 2009, back when he was still studying to be a typographic designer. He started working on the typeface in 2016, alongside two people who collaborated with him by contributing their knowledge of software development.

For the next 6 years up to now, he continued testing out the typeface and developed a matrix he designed so that Bionic Reading may be set as an optional reading method so that readers may choose to enable the typeface. Earlier this year, Casutt managed to do a preliminary study with a university in Switzerland to test whether or not Bionic Reading was an effective reading method. He shared that the results of the experiment were “not clear,” but the majority of the tests had a positive result, noting that there were also some who found the typeface effect “disturbing.” He mentioned in the thread that it hasn’t been explicitly tested whether or not the reading method is effective for dyslexics. However, he did add that there were some who personally told him that Bionic Reading does help dyslexic people.

If you want to learn more about Bionic Reading or want to test it out yourself, their website offers a downloadable Chrome Extension for Bionic Reading, as well as a Bionic Reading Converter and Bionic Reading API. /TV


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