TYPO Berlin 2013 Touch
About the speaker


Ann Bessemans

Ann Bessemans (°1983) has a MA in graphic design (Provinciale Hogeschool Limburg). Her typographic graduation project was awarded a national prize. On October 25, 2012, she defended her PhD dissertation entitled “Type Design for Children with Low Vision”, under the supervision of Prof. Gerard Unger (Leiden University) and Prof. Dr. Bert Willems (Hasselt University). Bessemans’ PhD project is an attempt at bridging the gap between font designers and cognitive scientists studying the legibility of letter characters. The ultimate goal of this PhD project was to design a font that can reduce the reading problems of children with low vision. In the light of this project she was granted a scholarship by Microsoft Corporation USA ClearType & Avanced Reading Technologies. At the moment she works as a research assistant at MAD (Media Arts and Design)-faculty, ready to set up more legibility research. Since 2006 she teaches graphic design and typography at the MAD-faculty to bachelor and master students. Ann Bessemans also works as a graphic designer, e.g. for the series of monographs Vlees & Beton/Voids & Borders published by the department of Architecture and Urban Planning of the University of Ghent. She has presented papers and gave workshops on several occasions both in Belgium and abroad. Her research interests include the interrelations between image & word, typography, font design, legibility, reading graphic design, book design and modular systems.

Talk: English
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Matilda, a research based font for improving reading

TYPO Berlin 2013, 17.05.2013, 19:00 Uhr (Hall)

Due to the low quality level of visual input they receive in the form of printed text, visually impaired beginning readers are at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers. In the past, typography has often been regarded as a useful instrument to improve the legibility of the printed reading material that is being offered to children with low vision. However, the legibility research that was at the base of this conception was not always of good quality. In cognitive science for example, many efforts were made that were methodologically correct, yet the test material (the used typefaces) had little to do with reality. On the other hand, typographers themselves introduced many typefaces that were supposed to improve legibility, but the reasoning behind them was hardly ever sufficiently methodologically supported. Moreover, most legibility research focused on people with low vision in general, ignoring the fact that visually impaired children constitute a very particular group with specific issues. Ann Bessemans’ doctoral research project in design seeks to shed a light on legibility in the context of visually impaired beginning readers. Within this lecture I will explain more the design process and the (provisionally) finished fonts to provide support for the target group of visually impaired children in the first stages of the reading process.