New Accessible Typeface Font from Fontsmith

Last updated: March 3, 2015

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The following announcement was sent to us by Rachel Houghton.

Renowned typographical foundry Fontsmith have teamed up with Mencap, the UK's leading charity for people with learning disability, their families and supporters, to create a new corporate typeface as part of a complete rebranding exercise: "FS Me". See the accessible PDF showing examples of the new font FS Me (288 KB .pdf). To purchase the font, see http://www.fontsmith.com/fonts/.

Mencap provide services, advice and support to meet people's needs and choices throughout their lives, as well as fighting for equal rights, campaigning for greater opportunities and challenging attitudes and prejudices. They needed a bespoke font to reflect this, as well as having the opportunity to create a "benchmark" in terms of design and legibility.

Fontsmith undertook a lengthy consultative process with a diverse research group of stakeholders to help produce a unique, modern typeface for the client in line with the new brand identity created by Rare Corporate.

Different styles of serif, sans serif and handwritten fonts were examined to get a sense of what the research group preferred, both aesthetically and in readability terms. Having narrowed the choice down to a cleaner and more crisp letterform, which avoided the pitfalls of being too childlike and patronising, Fontsmith refined the design to aid legibility and maximise accessibility.

A great deal of care was taken with the positive/negative space of the letter forms and how much leading was used in text. Larger, more open letter forms were assessed as well as denser, more fitted designs, which were more modern and visually pleasing, to achieve a clean, clear design by creating something distinctly contemporary.

As further versions were assessed by the research group to pinpoint particularly problematic words and letters, small tweaks were made to achieve balance between what is more recognisable as a letterform and what is more legible to the reader.

Having sought instinctive responses to width, weight and spacing, paid attention to details such as the length of ascenders and descenders and customised each letter to make it stand out and increase recognition, Fontsmith have produced FS Me – a unique typeface which represents a first in font design for this particular client group.

FS Me is not quirky or odd looking, doesn't resemble the childlike design of fridge magnets or early learning tools and is set to challenge Arial as a new standard in legibility. This is a first by a designer in crafting and care which stands up as a typeface in its own right, as a benchmark in accessibility and is available now for people to use as an everyday tool to assist in the Mencap vision of a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included.