You are currently viewing Designing for Accessibility: Famba Typeface Case Study. (Part1)

Designing for Accessibility: Famba Typeface Case Study. (Part1)

Ever walked into a new place, town, city, train station, airport, university or hospital and have no idea of where to go next, where to find the toilets? Trust me, that was the experience I had the first time I went to apply for enrollment at Midlands State University (Zimbabwe). From the entrance gate I had a difficult time navigating my way to the administration block, yes, administration block; and the very same visual aides (signage) that are supposed to help with the navigation gave me more trouble. And it wasn’t only myself with navigation problems, I met a few more other equally confused potential students who were stuck in a similar situation. 3 years after, this motivated me to design a font for Accessibility, a font that is designed for maximum legibility & readability, for people of different ages, disabilities & abilities.

Famba typeface in use, get it here


Different people have various problematic issues when identifying letters. This encompasses general people, children, aging individuals, dyslexic people & the visually impaired. From various studies, it has been shown that the most problematic letters are as follows:

  • Lowercase l (el) can be read as the number 1 or a capital I (i)
  • Capital I (i) can be read as a lowercase l (el) or as number 1
  • The number 1 can be read as a lowercase l (el), capital I (i) or number 7
  • Lowercase “i” could be read as lowercase j
  • Capital B could be read as 8
  • Capital D could be read as number 0 or lowercase o
  • Double v (vv) could be read as “w”
  • Uppercase S could be read as 5
  • Uppercase Z could be read as 2
  • Uppercase Q could be read as O
  • Uppercase C could be read as G
  • Lowercase rn could be read as m
  • LJ could be read as U
  • Lowercase c could be read as lowercase o
  • Lowercase e could be read as lowercase o
  • Lowercase infant “a” could be read as lowercase 0

Often confused characters. Set in Century Gothic and Helvetica


To design characters that can be decoded easily & quickly with maximum character recognition, it is suggested to do the following:

  • Add a serif on top and/or base of uppercase I (i)
  • Bent terminal on bottom of lowercase l (el) to differentiate it from 1 & other confusing characters
  • Distinctive arm on top of 1 for distinction & clarity

Differentiation of characters between Century Gothic (1) Helvetica (2) and Famba Typeface (3)
  • The negative space between the stem and dot must be wide to allow for good distinction from characters like “l” & 1

Comparison between Century Gothic (1) Helvetica (2) and Famba Typeface (3)

Differentiating often confused characters helps to increase the legibility & readability of a font thus making it easy for people to read through & identify as they read either quickly or slowly in bigger or smaller sizes. Famba typeface aims to do just that, it’s not designed to look pretty but to solve a particular problem. It will work well as a font for small text in books, apps etc or bigger sizes such as signage & posters. In part 2 we’ll be looking at how Famba typeface is a great typeface for way-finding purposes.

Famba Typeface in Use