Graphic designers, like grotesque typefaces, but they are not great for accessibility.

“I think designers graphic designers, really like grotesque typefaces. They have a modern flavour, and that’s probably borne out of the corporate identities, and science fiction films and road signage and things people see in the world and feel like systemise and neutral. Designers go towards that because it feels like a safe bet and has a modern flavour, so you see a lot of Helvetica, who is a very famous grotesque typeface you see a lot of it in the world. And I think that we, so, that was the typeface that Joe was using and it was fine. Still, we felt that we knew there were accessibility concerns because of close proportions. It is difficult for the eye to saccadically scans the words and gets through it quickly, so depending on your ability with reading, could slow you down somewhat.

That was one hook that I saw, and it had helped solve that problem because accessibility runs through everything the BBC does.

But my selfish interest was to introduce a new typeface but accessibility. If we could fix accessibility questions and issues that would be a good driver for me to take this to the business and say we need this typeface. Not because we wanted to look new and modern but for these reasons, and this was one of them, accessibility, legibility readability of typefaces on small screens or wherever the future holds, you know.

And, so there was that issue, there was also cost-saving if we introduced a new typeface and owned it we could stop paying these licenses on all the other typefaces we were using and bring a typographic tone of voice to the organisation. So, they were the three things cost-saving, legibility, and distinctiveness, and that’s what helped drive this kind of through and help it to become a success and get done. So, it took quite a long time to get that across the line for me because I needed to argue for this, and people tried to do that. My predecessors tried to introduce typefaces in the past to the BBC. They failed, so I was doggedly pursuing this because I saw an opportunity for us.”

David Bailey on #axschat

Categories: accessibility

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