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Re: Note on ClearType fonts [was: PowerPoint accessibility-alt question]


From: Chagnon | PubCom
Date: Apr 30, 2014 8:44PM

In his comment about readability, Anthony Lee states at
http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/2012/text-customization/p7 :
"Unfortunately, I am unable to focus on text which is displayed on a flat
screen when sub-pixel rendering software (such as Microsoft's ClearType) has
been used to "smooth" the fonts. The text looks blurred to me (irrespective
of adjustments). This causes visual disturbance and, typically, a bad
headache as well."

He gets a headache when viewing ClearType fonts.
I get a headache when I don't have ClearType fonts.

What a world we live in!
As Olaf said, "there will always be someone struggling with something."

The best solution is to develop digital media, devices, and AT that allows
the user to customize the appearance for his/her needs. Mr. Lee gets to
choose his own font, and I get to choose mine. We're both happy. Yeah!

To clarify about ClearType fonts:
There are the actual fonts themselves, and then there's the Cleartype Tuner
software which softens the edges of the fonts when rendered on screen. This
is called sub-pixel rendering. Many other fonts have been developed with
sub-pixel rendering and they're meant to improve readability on screens.
Generally, they also print very well, too.

Mr. Lee specifically says it's the "sub-pixel rendering software" (or the
"tuner") that causes the readability problems for him, not the actual design
of the font characters themselves.

By default, the sub-pixel rendering is active in Windows 7 and later, and in
recent versions Mac OS X. It can be disabled on Windows systems:
1. Windows Control Panel.
2. Display.
3. From the left menu select "Adjust ClearType Text".
4. Uncheck the box to deselect "Turn on ClearType".

FYI, in my decades of designing for print, multi-media, web, and digital
content, I've had the most positive response from clients and readers about
ClearType fonts (especially Calibri) over all other fonts. A common comment:
"wow, what is this font? I can read it without grabbing my reading glasses."

Given that both Microsoft and Apple have adopted sub-pixel rendering, it
might be that the majority of users do not have difficulty with this
technology and actually have an improved reading experience. But that
doesn't mean everyone will benefit from it.

So one strategy might be to design for the majority of users and build in
options for individuals to customize as needed.

We also need more fonts designed specifically for screen use, which ideally
would shape the individual letters to conform better to the square pixel
matrix of digital screens. That's a key factor that makes Calibri, Cambria,
Segoe, and other sub-pixel rendered fonts more legible. It's not just the
rendering, but also the design of characters, too.

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-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Shawn Henry
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 11:10 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Note on ClearType fonts [was: PowerPoint accessibility-alt

On 4/29/2014 9:38 PM, Chagnon | PubCom wrote:
> 8) The Calibri font mentioned in the forum is part of Microsoft's
> Cleartype font collection that were developed specifically for better
> legibility and readability on computer screens. They are installed
> with MS Windows and Office, so they're fairly well distributed on
> Windows systems. And they are in OpenType format.

fyi, some people have trouble reading these fonts. For example, see
"Accessibility issues due to sub-pixel rendering" at
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/2012/text-customization/p7>;, which includes: "it
is apparent that a number of other people struggle with ClearType and
complain of blurring...".