TYPOGRAPHY AND THE AGING EYE: TYPEFACE LEGIBILITY FOR OLDER VIEWERS WITH VISION PROBLEMS
The population is rapidly aging and becoming a larger share of the marketplace. Thirteen percent of the population is currently over 65 years old. In 30 years that group will double to 66 million people. People change as they age. Sensory, cognitive and motor abilities decline. The built environment is not typically created with the needs of the aging population in mind. How does the choice of typeface in signage systems, for example, impact the older viewer who is experiencing vision problems typical to that age group? Are certain typefaces more suitable to the aging eye.
Typographic standards for signage
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets down body-width to height and stroke-width to height ratios for the use of appropriate typefaces in signage systems. These standards insure that more uniform typefaces are used, and that overly thick or thin stroke-widths, and overly condensed or expanded styles are not used. While these standards are an excellent starting point, it may be necessary to consider additional factors in regards to typeface selection for the aging eye.
The larger x-height and less thin stroke areas slightly improve readability. The somewhat condensed proportion results in closed counterforms under low vision conditions, such as in the “e” and “a” characters