This Typography Visualizes What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic

A new book called I Wonder What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic illustrates a common learning disability through clever graphic design.

Since he was a child, British graphic designer Sam Barclay has struggled with dyslexia–-along with 10% to 15% of the population. To help combat the widespread misunderstanding of this common and sometimes debilitating learning disability, Barclay created a book called I Wonder What It’s Like To Be Dyslexic, which uses artistic typography to visualize the experience of trying to read with dyslexia. Beautifully designed and fit for both coffee tables and classrooms, the book helps those who aren’t dyslexic understand what it’s like to struggle with reading on a daily basis.


“Unlike many, I was lucky enough to have some excellent help from some amazing people through school,” Barclay tells Co.Design. “However, it always stood out to me that all of the available help was aimed at making me read better. Rarely was the help aimed at helping those around me understand what it feels like to struggle with reading.” This book turns that trend around, pointing out that in a neurologically diverse world, “help” works best as a two-way street.

Barclay says that a dyslexic entering the typography business makes perfect sense. “Typography is the business of creating the most pleasing reading experience possible within any given context,” he says. “I’ve become fascinated by my struggle to read even the most legible of type. Because of my dyslexia, I think that I see shapes where others see words.”

While it’s a hindrance to reading, seeing letters as shapes first is a huge part of what makes a good typographer–you have to be able to see words abstractly and aesthetically, not simply as units of meaning. In Barclay’s book, letters are turned into visual art. In a perfect example of showing instead of telling, words here convey an important, overdue message not through their literal meaning so much as through their imaginatively altered visual structures.

The book’s production is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which has already surpassed its pledged goal, having raised over $40,000, with 16 days left to go.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.