(and Comic Sans font) and what it means for educational instruments

Vernier caliper analog watch slide rule mechanical stopwatch
(Unfortunately my wristwatch is broken, so I’ve been using a digital one while I look for a replacement that I like)

As much digital stuff as I do, you wouldn’t think I prefer analog displays but I really do. And the reason is that I am dyslexic and have to work extra hard to perceive character-based displays.

It’s the reason I touch-type, do math on a slide rule, and use a Vernier caliper instead of a digital one. It’s why I went out of my way to get a mechanical stopwatch from the 1970’s to time narration segments for videos; I make fewer mistakes with less effort.

The same is true for one of my most controversial opinions: that Comic Sans font is a great font. I know, lot of people hate it, make fun of it, which is why I don’t use it much. But dyslexic people find it less tiring to use. Your taunts against it are actually… ableist.

If you are not dyslexic, it can be hard to grasp that it is a real thing. But I was not diagnosed until my 30’s. In school I could read well enough because words have context that I could use to dope out the meaning. It was (and still is) hard and I don’t read very fast, but I was (and am) motivated.

Numbers were another matter. All the context in the world doesn’t fix numbers that get mixed up. For example, I find spreadsheets like Excel almost impossible to use. I honestly had no trouble at all with the logic of arithmetic, but I kept getting wrong answers despite massive effort. ‘Adults’ told me I was lazy and I just thought I was dumb and I’m still a little crispy about it to this day.

The world we live in is analog. Computer screens can do analog display by mimicking analog devices; this is called “skeuomorphism”, and an example would be the picture of a trash can that you click to discard a file. Skeuomorphisms used to be much more common in UI design, and I liked them a lot. That would be a topic for another time I suppose.