Open fonts at Libre Graphics Meeting 2009
Posted May 14, 2009 7:26 UTC (Thu) by socket
Parent article: Open fonts at Libre Graphics Meeting 2009
While I can certainly understand the appeal of having more control over the fine presentational details of one's website, I'm concerned about what this could mean for web accessibility.
To give some context: the screen I normally use is 14" diagonally at roughly the golden ratio (unlike a lot of screens these days), with 1400x1050. I just looked it up, it comes to 124x124 dots per inch. My X.org log, as configured by YaST (running OpenSuSE 11.1), reports:
(**) RADEON(0): Display dimensions: (287, 215) mm
(**) RADEON(0): DPI set to (123, 124)
So, that sounds about right. Since a point is 1/72nd of an inch these days, 12 points should be 4.23 millimeters. I'd consider that comfortably readable.
But in order for text to be actually readable, I have to tell Firefox to use no less than a 26-point font. In reality, this puts my x-height at about... 3 millimeters, as I imprecisely measure with a ruler on my screen. When a website assumes it's acceptable to insist on using a font at 12 points, the x-height is a smidge under a millimeter and a half. I'm sorry, but my copy of the compact Oxford English Dictionary is more readable than that. $DEITY forbid I ever get so nearsighted I can't pick out individual pixels.
Is Firefox not querying X right? Is X not presenting DPI information to applications right? Is it XFCE's fault? I don't know. Not sure where this bug should be filed, but it's beside my main point...
I tell Firefox to ignore whatever fonts the website wants to use, for several reasons. (1) The already mentioned size problem. (2) Sans serif is for headers and large text, Serif is for blocks of text. That's a basic readability rule that's been thrown out the window by web designers. (3) Mucking around with kerning for the sake of being "interesting" never actually is. (4) Does anybody remember how many different dashes or spaces Unicode offers, and what they mean for their use in language and/or the effect on the typography? Neither do I. (5) Most importantly, accessibility.
It's the content that matters most - it's the content that will keep people coming back to some sites, and avoid others. Until the majority of web developers actually learn something about typography and readability, I'll make my own font choices, thanks. I strenuously object to any attempt at letting website developers make the web less accessible than it already is.
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