AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Gareth Ford Williams, David Bailey & Bruno Maag

August 24, 2020 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talkwith Gareth Ford Williams, David Bailey & Bruno Maag
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Gareth Ford Williams, David Bailey & Bruno Maag
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Show Notes Transcript

Hosted by Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh and Neil Milliken. 

In 2005 Gareth founded the BBC’s Digital Accessibility Team. Over the course of the first 3 years, the Accessibility Team worked as an integral part of iPlayer’s core Product Team ensuring BBC iPlayer V1.0 launched as an accessible product. The team was joined the UX when the UX Design was founded in 2008.

Gareth Ford Williams

David helps drive consistent quality of visual design and branding across the BBC’s entire online output. He joined the organisation in 2014 after a 16 year career working in the more traditional world of graphic design and branding. In 2012, D&AD included David in its list of ’50 British Creative Greats’ alongside the likes of Paul Smith, Rankin and Terry Gilliam. 

David Bailey

Bruno Maag is an expert typographer with over forty years of expertise in his field. He founded and led Dalton Maag Ltd, the world’s leading studio for typeface design where he worked with some of the best known brands: Amazon, Nokia, Intel, HP, AirBnB, Netflix, Facebook, DHL, FedEx, ABB, BBC, Rakuten amongst many others.

Bruno Maag

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Hello and welcome to AXSChat we have a Plethora of

guests today including one you might recognise from

previous episodes, welcome back to Gareth Ford Williams

who is in charge of accessibility at BBC, still after

all of this time and was our first ever guest on

AXSChat so welcome back Gareth, we have Bruno Maag, and

David Bailey joining us and today's topic is one that

I'm particularly interested in, which is around making

Fonts and typefaces accessible, so if you would care to

introduce yourselves, Gareth do you want to start have

I done you an injustice in my introduction.

GARETH: No, a good introduction, pretty much covers

everything so my title now has changed, this is the

third time on, and probably third job title but still

running the accessibility team so now head of

design/accessibility. And I'm also running

the assistive technology team in the BBC as well.

And, yeah, this is a topic that's also, I've been

massively interested in for a long time, dabbled in in

the past, and then, had the fortune of meeting Bruno

and David, and yeah now got really sucked into the

subject in a big way, about you I'll let

them explain why.

NEIL: Excellent. Bruno do you want to

tell us about your background please.

BRUNO: Yes, I am the Chairman and founder of Dalton

Maag which is type foundry based in London, we've been

going for nearly 31 years now, so, no, what I'm talking

about, no 29 years apologies, 29 years, and yeah, we

make fonts, have primarily custom fonts so some of the

work we have done is obviously with the BBC, the BBC

re:typefaces but also worked with Amazon, Netflix

Airbnb, primarily the large tech corporates but also do

smaller projects and of course with the big companies,

accessibility's always, it is one of the baseline

requirements. Obviously, I'm particularly,

if you work in a digital environment you

have to have accessibility, you have to

have typefaces that actually function within a UI

environment. And beyond that of course

because they have to be in print as well.

And about six years ago, or seven years ago, I got much

more involved and interested in in the accessibility

side of it and started getting involved in

neuroscience, my wife is a neuroscientist and together

with her, we used to have 2.00 in the morning

prosecco-fuelled conversations about typeface designs

and neuroface designs and we started realising there's

a big overlap there, so much so I did a lot of

background reading and also in particular with the

subject of dyslexia, and trying to dispel some myths

you know, and in doing so dispelling the myths

obviously upsetting a lot of people as well because

people can't cope with home truths.

And that's how I got into the whole accessibility side,

and having all that knowledge of the neuroscience now

really was in how we design as well.

We make the decisions much more consciously, you know,

rather than just intuitively, if we make a decision

about a design or letter spacing, we know why it is and

we can argue it as well. That's briefly about me.

NEIL: David.

DAVID: Hi folks, so, I'm David Bailey, UX, user

experience principal for visual design

and branding, at the BBC.

My role is to help drive consistent high-quality design

and brand experience across our entire online output.

Prior to that I was, I've been with the BBC for six

years now, prior to the role I'm in currently I was

Creative Director of our global experience language

which is our shared design framework, and accessibility

is baked into all, everything we do in all

of our output in our department.

So, I've, I was really involved in that, in evolving

that design framework for the organisation in all the

right ways. Prior to that I spent 16 years

working in commercial sector, I used to

work with a very famous design studio

called the Design Republic, who were a cutting edge

design studio in the 90s, and 2000s, and then I ran my

own studio, kiosk which did much more of the same, art

direction traditional graphic art and branding for

music industry, arts, fashion, film, TV, media all

sorts of good stuff. So, coming to the BBC,

I've been on a huge learning curving and

now I'm hybrid of brand design, specialist

as well as UX design framework thinking

design systems thinking specialist as well.

Combined into this principal role and I love t

NEIL: Excellent. So, that's great and if

people are wondering why Debra

disappeared, she's lives in rural Virginia and has the

worse internet in the cold world, she'll be back

shortly. But, so, if I go to Gareth, what

was it that prompted you to start doing

the work on developing dyslexia,

particularly dyslexia accessible fonts?

I know you've done work before the development of Reith

but, you developed this typeface and font Reith.

What was it that?

GARETH: Obviously I'm dyslexic myself and it was

something that I'd been interested in but couldn't find

a huge amount of really good conclusive hard evidence

out there. And this goes back to my time when

I was at YouView when I was on comments

for YouView for two years, part

of the team that designed and built the interface and

the hardware behind it, and one of the things we were

looking at was the UI typeface and I went out looking

for stuff and I could find a lot of claims and people

talking about it and couldn't find a huge amount of

evidence. Admittedly I didn't look deep

enough, particularly in the scientific

side, until I met Bruno, I wasn't

prompted to start looking in that area.

It was like where do you start?

I felt this was one of the foundation things that was

missing in the world of accessibility, people talk a

lot about typography or the presentation of type but

not about the typeface itself.

And there's lots of spurious claims about the comics

and claims out there but I can never find anything, it

all seemed to be anecdotal. Anecdotal is

always interesting because it makes you raise questions.

And actually, explore whether there are research

questions, but actually evidence was massively missing

so we did the best we could, when I was at YouView.

And actually, it is a question that's probably aimed at

David to start off with, because, David started, that

was really right the starting point of this whole idea

of the BBC having a single typeface and that's when the

conversation started and then you know we started

working with Dalton Maag and David can give you that

history because I just got sucked into this, because I

was never able to actual I find the answers, find the

things that I wanted when I worked at You View, we made

the best we could and made a good decision in the end.

But it always felt there was so much more than that and

so much missing in opportunity.

So, I don't know David, do you want to?

DAVID: I'm happy to he will tell but that, when I

joined the BBC for, I joined as Creative Director of

our design framework, the global experience language,

and I saw my remit was to raise the profile of that,

and make it more buy into it and belief it as our

design system that all our designers could get behind

and develop as a group. And but I was also

looking for ways for to involve its

visual styling and personality and presence, and the

corer element of any kind of brand or brand system or

digital design system is its typeface and the typefaces

that our design system was using was Helvetica, which

was a system typeface a grotesque typeface designed a

hundred years ago for print and somewhat invisible.

You could argue being invisible is a good thing for

public service organisation which has to be sort of

neutral in political opinion and et cetera,

it suits that in some respects. It is pure

information. Sorry.

NEIL: Some of our audience that are not so,

knowledgeable about typefaces can you explain the

difference between grotesque typefaces.

BRUNO: Do you want me to do that David?

DAVID: Yeah. I don't mind.

I can give the very quick version of it, and then you

could then fill in if I've got anything wrong but

briefly, broadly speaking, grotesque typeface has more

equal proportions and is more sort of, it is designed

around delivery information it doesn't have any flair

or flow. It is very much; it is just Bruno

would be better at describing it.

BRUNO: Basically, grotesque typeface is impressions

they are constructed, almost mechanical typefaces so

you would find the character widths tend to be very

even, same from one character to another.

For example, if you look at lower cases, think of the

A, B, C, the E, et cetera, you know, they're all pretty

much sit on the same width.

Also, the characters tend to look very closed in, again

if you think of the C for example, you find that the

jaws are really coming close together so that of course

creates a degree of ambiguity as well.

Grotesque typefaces are for example Earl, Helvetica,

accidents, grotesques is another one, universe is

another one, so these are the more famous ones but the

basic principle is high excite, relatively short

descender and ascender, so descender is the bit that

sticks down below, in the P or in the G. The ascender

is the bit that sticks up, like the H or the F. for

example. So, they tend to be quite short as

well that gives you quite dense impression

when you type set it and look at it in composition.

As well as opposed to that you have humanist typefaces and

we're talking about san serifs now, you have humanist

typefaces, which have more varied proportions.

And by and large the character shapes tend to be open,

again if you have if you think of the lower-case C or

upper case it has open jaws and that creates more

variety within the individual shapes as well.

Also, humanist typefaces tend to have a more relaxed

letter spacing, than grotesque which tend to be quite

tightly spaced as well. So, that's basically

the two kind of signifies between

the two main kinds of like stylistic

features of san serifs.

DAVID: I think designers graphic designers, really

like grotesque typefaces because 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

systemy and neutral and design he is goes towards that

because it feels like a safe bet and modern nave so you

see a lot of Helvetica, 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 but we felt that, we knew there was

accessibility concerns because of the things

that Bruno just said about there being close

proportions, it is difficult for the eye to

saccadically scan the words and get through it quickly

so depending on your ability with reading or whatever,

it will, could slow you down somewhat.

That was one hook that I saw, and it had help solve

that problem, because accessibility runs through

everything the BBC does and am, I am cutting out folks,

can you still hear me.

NEIL: You did briefly but you're back now.

>>: But my selfish interest was 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 really helped drive

this kind of through and help it to become a success

and get done. So, really, it took quite a long

time to get that across the line for me

because I needed to argue for

this, and people tried do that, my predecessors tried

to introduce typefaces in the past to the BBC and

failed so I was doggedly pursuing this because I saw an

opportunity for us. And finally it got signed off

after a lot of the wearing of the shoe leather

moving around the business and interacting

with the stakeholders and showing the

proof we need it, and that's when we put the call out

to different type design agencies, of which Bruno's

Dalton Maag was one. They responded with a

fantastic patch essentially for

the job which really demonstrated their ability at

creating really beautifully distinctive typefaces but

also their fascination and high interest in

accessibility and reading.

And so they felt like, and they've done it for large

media organisations before so we knew we were in good

hands, that was the beginning of our education, as a

design team at the BBC which is hundreds of people, we

got, we built a group of ambassadors for this project

and took them off to Bruno's studio in South London, to

begin our education, and that's where gar a me started

to learn so much and it was quite wonderful really.

So, I think that's where this started.

This is where the inception of this and now we get to

the design of a typeface which is where I think Bruno

should take over or Neil.

NEIL: I do want to jump in a little bit just before,

which was to say, obviously there were people out there

touting that they'd created accessible fonts,

particular things like Dyslexie, Read Regular,

Open Dyslexic, yeah.

GARETH: There's been quite a spate and obviously

comic sands have had this notion behind it, that you

know it is an accessible typeface, but it is always

been a problem with these things.

And to try and understand what it was because Tyrese is

another one which in broadcast font which is probably

the oldest of the accessible typefaces and you start to

look at the research, because if someone is making a

claim like this you wanted to know hard and fast

evidence that is informed design, and we couldn't find

that in those things.

There may be some good stuff within there, but it

always seemed to be that the evidence came after the

production, rather than it felt the wrong way around.

So, or it was anecdotal or in the case of Tyrese.

It was just the wrong methodology for researching type

in the first place. I mean it was a screen

typeface so they tested it on paper and

point size against the CEEFax font and Times

New Roman, it was the methodology just fell apart when

you looked at it, and when you go we can't take

anything from this claim behind Tyrese.

And we struggled to find much more than anecdote to

back anything else up.

And Dante dot is quite strong but to understand what is

going in there, I think it is with a dyslexic that's an

interesting, it is bigger typeface anyway and one of

the things if you run everything in point size and

measure one against the other and people will always

big the bigger one.

It doesn't mean, it just makes the other one larger and

they have no idea what to pick, it is just a bigger

typeface, that does not make it more readable or

legible necessarily.

There may be features and stuff in there, but we

couldn't draw that out.

So, the idea was we need to do that from scratch and

this is why, finding a partner like Bruno to work on

this, that had already, you'd already been exploring

this with Amazon, and other organisations, as well,

which your work on Bookerly, and it was to start

drawing out some of that stuff of actually no, there

is, there are things in here that are enable

performance, they enable people to read and get a flow

in reading, there is stuff around for some people it is

character recognition, for some people they need to

recognise words and for other people there's this

saccadic flow of words that Bruno needs to explain it

way better than I can.

But it was just understanding that science of reading

and the different ways people do and work back from

that, and saying OK, what does it need to do, what are

those features that support that, no to the baseline

things we need to start building from, rather than have

a hypothesis, design a font and then try and test it or

prove it afterwards.

Which is what I felt, which obviously it is what we

felt was happening in that world of accessible type.

DAVID: There is one thing I would say, another thing

to say is so there were accessible typefaces as Gareth

is saying but we would have had to license them so to

own it was the most cost effective solution but equally

it gave us the opportunity to be best in class and

create, what would the BBC do if it was to create a

typeface, well it would have to create something really

and truly best in class and that's what we

set out to do. What was lovely about the learning

process we went through from Bruno was we

have all the people in the organisation who

had no interest in typefaces whatever,

the business analyst, technical architects God knows

but we took them on this journey and they all became

incredibly nerdy quickly about typefaces, once that

happens, once you learn a thing or a two you like to

share it with your friends and calculation so they

started doing that so we quickly built this

ambassadorship with these people who poured out the

information to respective flocks so to speak and there

was this movement that started to build in the BBC

around us making a best in class typeface.

So, I didn't set out for that to happen but that's what

happened, and we capitalised on when we saw it

happening, it was a good learning for

business this was.

NEIL: Debra you have a comment.

DEBRA: I know, I've been very quiet but the reason

why I've been quiet, first of all I apologise my Wi Fi

kicked me off but rural America we need better

connectivity but I am so fascinated by this, because,

you're bringing up things that as you were saying David

people would start learning this and realise how

powerful this is, and I had no idea people like Bruno

were doing these things, but it is so fascinating, it

really is fascinating and what I would wonder is, kudos

to BBC for working with Bruno's team to figure this

out, but, and I hear all the things you're saying, but

then I also wonder, it sounds like you really have come

up with the best in type. Typeface.

So, is this something that you can help others do?

I'm not going to ask a lot of questions on this episode

because this is something, I haven't delved into

this. And but I'm fascinated with the neuroscience of it.

And just to somebody as I've gotten older I struggle

to, I have a problem, I'm on the computer all day long,

but, I don't read any more, what I do is either have

Alexa read kindle to me or I do, I have, I let them

read it to me, and I absorb the information better

because I recently was diagnosed with dyslexia, already

have ADHD, and I'm thinking those two things are

palming together. And I'm fascinated I

have a daughter with Down's syndrome

and my sadly my husband, his dementia

increased his reading ability really was impacted so,

this impact so many people, but I don't hear anybody

talking about this. So, I just want to say I'm

fascinated and curious at some point would

it make sense in the conversation to

how can everybody else learn from what BBC is doing?

I know that's why we're here and I will go on mute.

BRUNO: Yeah. I'd like to jump in on that.

First, I'd like, to encourage you to start reading more

again, because, reading like everything, playing an

instrument is something that you get better at with

practice. You know.

DEBRA: I just have something that's called dry eye,

so my eyes burn all the time.

BRUNO: Obviously I do appreciate you know like

people have a variety of afflictions or deficiencies

and so on and so forth, I appreciate that.

But I think first and foremost we need to understand we

are not born with the ability to read.

We are not born with that, we have to learn it, and we

have to practice it.

There's a tiny little bit in your brain, in the vast

majority of the world's population is on your left

hemisphere just behind the top part of your ear and it

is the size of the top of your fingertip and called the

visual word form area, in there, every single character

of any language, irrespective of writing system is

being decoded, but you have to train that part of the

brain, you have to train the neurons to recognise the

shapes that it is presented with.

So, it can decode them correctly. Right.

DEBRA: So, Bruno, so, and I totally interrupted you

I apologise because I could sit at your feet and listen

to for weeks on end because you're so brilliant.

But, are you saying because I've never thought it from

this perspective, are you saying, because I do work all

day long, I do PowerPoint presentations, but do you

also to make sure you don't lose that muscle we still,

even if it is that's fascinating, OK I'm with you.

I'm learning. Thank you.

BRUNO: You see, in order to understand reading you

need to understand neuroscience, and the brain is

always at full capacity, right.

Every single bit, every single neuron in your brain is

used, not always at the same time, but every single

neuron has a specific function.

This whole thing of people saying oh we only

use 10% of our brain is complete and utter rubbish,

our brain is used 100% you know for different things.

If it were doing a 100% at full speed all the time

simultaneously, within three days you would be dead of

exhaust because the brain would use up so many calories

and energy you wouldn't eat that much it is impossible

you know. But anyways, so, and the brain has

to do so much, so, that there is a concept in

neuroscience called neurological recycling.

So, that basically the brain takes neurons that are

lying dormant not being used and takes them and uses it

for something else. For a new skill say for example.

And once that's gone it is gone. You know.

It is really, really hard to then grab those neurons

back and reutilise them for what you have done

previously. The same goes with visual word form area.

First of all the less you read the less you train, the

less that area is able to efficiently and quickly and

correctly identify and decode the shapes of letters and

the more the brain will be tempted to start doing mural

recycling because you're not using it, so therefore,

hey, I'm going to take that you know.

You're not making use of it; I will take it your loss

not my problem you know.

So, you got to do that, so, that particular part now of

course with the whole reading you then also have to

seminar series man particular area which sits at the

front, near the frontal lobe where meaning is attached

to letters and letter shapes and words et cetera, and

in the reading process is also involved de phonological

area which is on the left hemisphere, which sits in

your primary auditory cortex, very close to the visual

word form area where sound is attached to a visual

shape in order to correctly eventually identify what

the written word means you know because that's a little

bit dependent on language.

So certain languages are opaque, other languages are

transparent, English is a very opaque language which

basically sounds like it is spells and not is written

at which makes it harder for dyslexics and so on but

that's like another three hour episode of AXSChat.

So, but that's just neural recycling and I hijacked the

whole conversation.

About your brain and that's extremely important to

understand as well.

Yes, obviously you can have deficiency in your eyes, by

of course affects what is being sent back into your

visual cortex and eventually into visual word form area

and if you have a blurred image of a character the

visual word form area has more difficulty to correct

live identify what the shape is, and therefore your

reading speed goes down, legibility goes down and so et

cetera, et cetera, and if the reading speed and the

reading flow is interrupted and affected then of course

your comprehension is going to be affected as well so

it has a huge amount of repercussions, so, now, we are

going outside of the eyes, and we are going into the

actual character shapes, so, the more ambiguous

character shapes and complex the character shapes the

harder it is for the visual word form area to correctly

identify what the letter shapes are.

Right. So, this is why for example, something

like Helvetica, typeface is probably or is

less legible than the humanist typeface

because a grotesque typeface has far

more ambiguity so your brain has to do much more work

to correctly and quickly decode the letter shapes.

So, now, I'm exhausted.

NEIL: That's OK, all we need to feed you obviously.

DEBRA: Wow. wow

GARETH: That is still only scratching the surface,

believe me. We've been talking over three

years and still unpicking some of this stuff.

And then you get into:

DEBRA: It is very important.

GARETH: Which is why we have got soon

VERITY: A Sans serif with the Sans version it is

really good for individual character recognition and

the Serif I font is really good for Word because Serif

pull the word together as a shape, so if you are a

person who really needs whole words, and to get that

flow through, that's right isn't it Bruno the Serif are

an aid of readability.

BRUNO: Aid because they disambiguate shapes even

more, say for example if you have a mirror characters

like a B and D, or P and Q, you know with the Serifs

you can create extra visual cues as to what shape it is

DEBRA: I like that, the seven or the 1.

BRUNO: Exactly. That also brings me ..

Go on.

DAVID: We built those characteristics into

the as a feature.

BRUNO: Exactly say for example the P and the Q for

example, the Q hasn't got a spur at the top where the

curve goes into the straight, quite often you find

there's a little spur particular sticking out.

The Q in BBC Right goes like curves in, at an angle.

And then you have the P, but the P does have a spur so

again that's a differentiation between two shapes and

that's a clue as to how your brain ought to come like

decode the characters.

GARETH: It is giving your brain cues and help for

this. when he started unpacking this, the

arguments get sway oversimplified.

There was a poll I saw recently that said serif and

versus sans serif There's hundreds of each one and so

many different clarifications and the features and you

can't unpick them and say is one features better, it is

a holistic approach. And each one of those has a job to do.

And you know, it is and there are so many features as

well when you start, there are some very generalstic

ones which we touched on.

NEIL: I'm interested in that, you can talk about

serif versus sans serif but weightier font also has a

significant impact on legibility, for example, we

talked about Helvetica before, well when Apple from

Helvetica to Helvetica new they made it much more

skinny, and for me that was a real problem because then

I suddenly found it much harder to read anything on my

iPhone. So, it's not, you know it is not that, there were

skills to response but harder for me to read because it

became ...

BRUNO: Absolutely. Let's face it, there is a reason why a regular

typeface, or what you would call a regular, why the

stems in the vertical strokes, and by and large a

little bit thinner the horizontal strokes, why they

have a certain weight. This has been tried

and tested for the last 500 years,

or 550 years since Gutenberg invented the printing with

movable type, it hasn't changed there's a reason for

it, so no point for digital designers in newer

environment so start going thin, when a large part of

the audience tends to be over 40, whose eyesight is

going to pots basically. And that is a

natural deterioration of our eyesight,

old people see less, and that's a fact.

You know. So, therefore, you have to

tell those 20 year old kids with 2020 vision,

to actually start thinking about people like a

50 year old in mind like myself you know.

But anyway. One of the things also going

quickly back to the neuroscience as well of

course short term memory plays

a very important role as well in the processing.

And it has been shown that people who have short term

memory afflictions, find it much harder to read as

well. So, it's come like the quick process that I illustrate

is very, very simplified processes are extremely

complex in the brain.

You have short term memory involved, visual work form

area semantic phonological area involved, on top of

that you have the entire motor cortex involved which

obviously controls your eye movement so you can do

saccadic movements across the line so basically the

brain controlling your eyes to know what you're looking

at. You have the visual cortex involved.

You have the auditory cortex involved.

There are two areas called, I always confuse them -

Wernicke and Broca, one is language input the other is

language output. You know, so, it is continuous

feedback loop when you read and particularly

when you start reading out loud.

It is continuous feedback loop, that basically is so

complex that it is really, really hard to describe it.

You know because everything is involved, literally

everything. And then of course you have numbers,

numbers is a completely different matter

because numbers don't get processed in

individual word form area they get

processed in the visual number form area exactly the

opposite way in your arithmetic hemisphere the left hand

side is linguistic functions right hand side is

primarily arithmetic functions.

And then there's the cross informational thing between

the two hemispheres that eventually brings it all

together. OK. Someone else talk I'm running out of ...

DEBRA: Amazing, wow.

NEIL: We're also, you know, buffering up on the edge

of our time but this is such a fascinating topic, that

I think that people will be happy for us to run over.

I think that, the other thing I just wanted to touch on

before we close, was we've also not touched upon the

sort of the desire to produce something that looks nice

and the desire for something that is aesthetically

pleasing because one of the objections that I have to

some of the authorities previous accessible font is

that they were ugly.

And, that they were aesthetically displeasing to me to

the point that I found it was off putting reading.

So, I mean, how much.

DEBRA: Is it ugly, or is it going back to the

science that Bruno is saying, maybe your brain is

saying, it is ugly because of:

NEIL: They deliberately unbalanced they would design

to be unbalanced so you could discern the letters from

different, but I guess when we think of beauty we think

of symmetry and balance.

GARETH: It is also appropriateness.

NEIL: Definitely there's a thing about


GARETH: So, the famous one of when the scientists at

Serne announced the Hex basin and they did their

PowerPoint in Comic Sans and there were more tweets on

the day about the typeface instead of the greatest

discovery of our age. You know, because

they made the whole thing like a nursery

newsletter and that was inappropriate.

BRUNO: Yeah. I mean, the stuff is going

as far as back as 1927 by

Berger and Franklin who were two psychologists

and they looked into the look and feel of typefaces,

and they did a whole study and they compared different

stylistic expressions of typefaces, the look and feel

and had people match them to certain industries and

primarily within an advertising context and they found

that the vast majority of people irrespective whether

male or female would place certain typefaces in certain

categories. Pretty much unfailingly.

And so, clearly, we associate culturally, or maybe

because of shape et cetera, et cetera, culturally or

maybe natively, we associate certain shapes and certain

types of letter forms with certain industries and

certain types of information and communication Yeah.

DAVID: So, bringing back to Ref, since the typeface

had representation of the BBC's tone of voice it had to

have a variety of styles and weights to echo something

with the different content we're publishing but equally

of a reflection of society as well.

There had to be different kinds of tones of voice or

accents so to speak in graphic representation so that's

why we developed quite a large font family for BBC Ref,

but what you were saying before about it actually

looking nice, and feeling like the right thing, the

right type of face or being desirable.

One of the things that we've talked a lot between garth

me and Bruno is about the three pillars of

accessibility so there's technical, is it built


Is it functional, does it work?

And emotional, emotional accessibility does it appeal?

Yes, and I think if you don't have that initially then

they're not going to care if it works or functions

because we won't look at it so that's a huge part of

accessibility as well.

BRUNO: And I think it is also important to see those

three points emotional function and technical, as a

holistic triangle. None can work in isolation.

They always harmonise together.

And if you get the sweet spot then you have the most

optimal typeface. I'm not saying the perfect

but the most optimal because perfection doesn't exist.

GARETH: I always remember my days back, and talking

to a group of teenagers and talking about assistive

tech and some of them had a lot of stuff attached to

their chairs, PTs, and various input devices and

technologies, and I remember the general mood was a lot

of them really hated them because they made them,

they're teenagers, they're self conscious, going

through what every teenager does they want cool stuff

and yet it looks like it was designed by Fisher Price

and absolutely hated their kit and wanted something

that looked cool and sophisticated and functional and

so it failed to, it reflected something themselves in

the way they wanted to feel about themselves and have

something that it was out of a book for a five year old

for 17 year old is humiliating.

NEIL: Yeah.

GARETH: So we have to have that connection, and we

have to feel comfortable and as Neil said some of the

typefaces they look like they've come from Scooby do,

or, out of the goodies, that's a UK references, Debra

you wouldn't get. So, it is that they're just they just don't look,

they're wrong and out of place, and then it becomes

difficult. There may be some good stuff in there, but.

NEIL: It is incongruous. It feels congruous,

we definitely run over now so I do

need to thank MyClearText who is keeping outside

captioned, Barclays Access for keeping and supporting

us over the years and Microlink also, so, it only

remains to thank Bruno David and Gareth for what has

been a fascinating chat today.

I'm really looking forward to the conversations on

Twitter on Tuesday thank you very much.

DEBRA: Thank you BBC for continuing to really raise

the bar for everybody. I am I ask all the

time in the US who is the best, and they say BBC.

I tell people that all the time and obviously, because

you are working with people like Bruno so applause.


GARETH: Thank you so much.

Thank you.

DAVID: Thanks folks