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More than words: UCA graduate creates animated ‘dyslexia experience’ to raise awareness of the condition

A UCA graduate has created the ultimate dyslexia experience using animated typography to help people understand what it’s like to live with the condition.

Josh Penn, who experienced problems with dyslexia as a child, graduated from UCA Canterbury this year with a first class BA (Hons) Graphic Design: Visual Communications. He made the video, What is it like to be dyslexic?, during his degree as a way of demonstrating the challenges with letters, words and typefaces that people with the condition face.

“From the beginning, the video was always going to be animated typography,” Josh explains. “I didn't want to include illustrations or pictures because I felt this would disturb the messages. I researched different types of dyslexia and the good fonts, bad fonts and colours that cause the most difficulty.

“I chose to include all the things that dyslexic individuals tend to have the most problems with, such as a serif typeface rather than san-serif, as well as heavily contrasting colours, rather than a pleasing colour palette.”

Since receiving support for dyslexia when he was younger, Josh no longer struggles with words or reading, but wanted to create the video to demonstrate what it can be like for people who weren’t fortunate enough to receive the support that he did. The 60-second animation uses flickering, rapidly moving and interchanging typography, designed to boggle the brain and confuse the viewer.

The graphic designer adds: “I believe if we want to communicate what it’s like to live with unseen conditions such as dyslexia, it has to be done creatively. If we give people information on an issue, or words on a page, it gets read, but the message doesn't really sink in.

“I believe this is because people need to see, feel it or go through it themselves in order to better understand what it can be like. I thought that if I created a printed page about dyslexia, I would have been giving people jumbled letters, bad spelling and other dyslexia symptoms and essentially telling them to read what was on the paper badly, and they wouldn't have understood.

“I think the same can be said about a lot of other conditions and issues. It helps to understand something when it is performed for you or given to you in a memorable, exciting, creative way.”

View What is it like to be dyslexic? here.