An update to the Atkinson Hyperlegible font


I'm a huge fan of the US Braille Institute's Atkinson Hyperlegible font. This blog is typeset in it, and I think it looks gorgeous. It's also specifically designed to be readable to people with visual impairments:

Atkinson Hyperlegible differentiates common misinterpreted letters and numbers using various design techniques:

The font is displayed with a high level of blur to simulate low vision. The letters and numbers are still recognisable.

There's only one problem, the font was released a few years ago and hasn't been updated since. It covers most of the basic European letters, numbers, accents, and symbols - but not all. I wondered if it was going to receive any updates:

Sadly not! The font was released under the SIL Open Font Licence V1.0 which allows for remixing - under certain conditions. So that's what I've done!

Introducing Extended Hyperlegible! At the moment, it contains exactly one new character - U+1F12F, the copyleft symbol 🄯.

I hope to add a few more glyphs as an when I have time. Contributions very much welcomed!

How to add new symbols to a font

This was a bit of a learning journey for me. Here are some notes to future-me.

  1. Use FontForge to open the original .otf font.
  2. Select the copyright symbol and copy it.
    Fontforge with the copyright symbol selected and context menu open.
  3. Select an empty symbol and paste it in.
    Copyright symbol pasted in to a blank slot in FontForge.
  4. View the "Glyph Info".
    Glyph Info page.
  5. Edit the Unicode Value to U+1F12F and select "Set From Value". Optionally, edit the "Glyph Name". And hit the OK button.
  6. Select the glyph, right click and select "Transform"
    Context menu showing Transform.
  7. Flip the glyph horizontally.
    Font transformation options.
  8. In the context menu, choose "Correct Direction".
    Screenshot showing the option.
  9. Optionally, skew it for the italic version.
  10. In "Font Information" you can rename the font and set other metadata.
    Metadata editing screen.
  11. Use File → Generate Fonts to save the new font as copyleft.otf
    FontForge Export menu.

Use FontTools

Install FontTools - either using pip3 or apt get

Convert the TTF to TTX format:

fonttools ttx merged.ttf

Edit the new merged.ttx by hand to update the name, copyright, etc.

Save the file as new.ttx

Generate a new OTF by running

fonttools ttx new.ttx

Optionally, run fonttools ttx new.otf to regenerate the TTX.

Optionally, run fonttools ttLib.woff2 compress new.otf to generate a WOFF2 font for the web.

Upload to GitHub and wait for contributors

Well, what are you waiting for? Use or contribute to Extended Hyperlegible today!


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2 thoughts on “An update to the Atkinson Hyperlegible font”

  1. Rimu says:

    I love this font, and I'm normally pretty font-agnostic.

    It seems like at smaller sizes ( < 16px ) it looks quite cramped and there is a margin below each line which throws off the alignment with icons, etc. This makes it unusable as a system font. Does it need hinting / kerning or something?

    Obvs people who need this font won't be using it at smaller sizes anyway...

    Other than that, very happy with it.

    Reply

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