I’ve noticed that every time some social networking forum makes a change, people automatically start bashing it. I understand the discomfort change brings. That’s just human nature.
Not long ago, one of the networks I frequent in my free time made a few changes to their default fonts. Naturally, there was fallout, but I noticed that there has been some debate over whether they’re dyslexic friendly or not.
Here’s an example of what it looks like on my screen, now:
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Of course, I don’t have a screen shot of what it looked like before, but now, the words and letters are spaced a little further apart, and the font itself is a bit bigger. For me, that makes it easier to read.
The font used in the credit is different, though. If we’re talking strict letter shape, I find the credit font easier to use, but size/spacing wise, the quote itself is better.
It got me thinking, once again, about the dangers of over-generalization. The whole font thing stems from the idea that all dyslexics are the same. If we have similar symptoms, wouldn’t similar solutions do the trick?
That’s really not the case. For instance, my primary literary symptoms are in word selection/recall, word reversals and phonemic translation. I do reverse letters on a fairly regular basis, too, but those three are my biggest weaknesses.
Other dyslexics, however, have more problems with individual letters, reading comprehension and other aspects of text based communication. Yes, I have all of those problems, and they worsen when I push myself too hard, but they’re not as severe as they are for some people.
Dyslexics are not all the same, which means something as simple as changing fonts won’t work for everyone.
I see the same thing in the broader world in relation to gender, too. Because I’m female, I’m expected by default to love all things romantic, feminine and soft. I’m supposed to stick with less edgy topics, like fashion and home decor, instead of delving into politics, martial arts or science.
By extension, my interests shouldn’t extend much further than catching the attention of a mate, caring for them and rearing a family. I’m to leave the ‘hard stuff’ to the guys.
Obviously, that’s not the reality of life. Since I was a little girl, I’ve disliked dressing in pastels or ruffles. If given the choice between watching TMNT or My Little Pony, TMNT won out every time.
Today, I still feel foolish in hyper-feminine clothing. When I wear makeup, I prefer either natural or bold tones. Even then, I don’t wear the stuff outside of when I feel like celebrating the features I like or on special occasions.
I can’t stand most romantic stories, unless there’s something more to the story than the main characters hooking up. I find purely romantic stories boring.
I’d love to one day get involved with martial arts again. Science is endlessly fascinating and, although I’m not a fan of political debates, I do voice my opinions to elected officials and vote based on them.
That said, I don’t look down upon women who do like feminine things. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dressing in ruffles, wearing makeup or loving romance. If that’s your thing, go for it! You’re awesome, and you deserve to bask in the glory of all things girlie.
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I do enjoy some stereotypical female things, like arts, crafts, sweets and kitties, after all.
However, it is wrong to assume that just because I’m female, I must love all of things in society’s “female” box. It’s wrong to assume that’s all there is to any woman.
That assumption that all things feminine equal weakness is part of what encourages domestic violence and the problems around all forms of abuse, including that which is aimed at boys and men. Remember, emotion falls into the realm of “femininity”, which is why boys are discouraged from showing it at an early age.
Now, when you throw any type of disability into the mix, the assumption of conformity is multiplied. A wheelchair ramp may help someone who needs physical assistance getting around, but it won’t necessarily help me, just like changing the background in word will help me, but it won’t necessarily help the aforementioned person with mobility issues. We both need accommodations, but not the same ones.
In the pinpoint experience of having dyslexia, I can say the same goes for the challenges we face in a world of text. You can’t solve all dyslexic problems with a small group of fonts. They may be lessened a little bit when the choice in font is offered, but they won’t be eradicated.
The two most important takeaways from this are that labels don’t define the whole person, and those who share the same label probably don’t function identically.
We’re each individual people, formed by biology and environment. By over-generalizing groups, we’re losing sight of individuality and humanity.