Although many precincts cater to physically handicapped citizens with ramps on sidewalks and near building entrances, one portion of the population still feels left out. In fact, mentally handicapped people may even outnumber the physically handicapped, but most do not admit their own existence. But one such handicap, dyslexia, has reached heightened awareness lately, and a town in England has decided to implement “dyslexic-friendly” street signs.
Apsley End in Bedforshire, whose name, coincidentally, was at one time Aspley End, has begun placing signs that help un-confuse those who naturally read their letters in a different order than those who naturally read them in order. It has already reinstated some of the historic signs that say Aspley End, in place of the newer Apsley End. It has even commissioned some new versions such as “Epsley And” and “Lapsey Den.” While they may seem confusing to the ordinary reader, these are perfectly readable to those with dyslexia, who thus feel quite at home in the area.
The town encourages businesses to do the same. Thus, some nearby hotels have followed suit, and the Redcoats Farmhouse Hotel now bears a sign that reads “Secroatd Marfhouse Lothe” facing the direction of Apsley End, and the King William now bears “Wing Killiam.” The local printer’s shop now calls itself the “Sprinter Hop,” and Charlie the Barber goes by “Larchie the Rabber.”
Most significant of all, the traffic signs themselves are being changed. Since most people are familiar with the red octagonal STOP sign with white lettering, Apsley End has begun making alternative versions, which Rudy the town crier believes will “help people of dyslexic orientation use the brakes at the appropriate intersections,” saving him some sore throats. All pronounceable letterings will be used, with the same colour coordination we all know and love. No longer will you see STOP at every intersection (which is pretty boring, one might say); you now see
- TPOT (pronounced “teapot”), and
at many of the 57 stop signs in town. Other traffic signs with new lettering include “No Dot Neter,”1 “Vige Yaw,”2 “No Potting,”3 and even “Routist Inmorfation”4 for sightseers. “Dead End” signs, which normally bear a large capital T with a red line at top, will be given variations including a backwards T (as it would appear in a mirror), and one with an upside-down crossbar (as it would appear to a vampire bat). Surprisingly, these dead end signs are still quite readable even to people of non-dyslexic orientation.
While we couldn’t find any dyslexia-oriented blokes or lassies to comment on these changes, we did see several people turning the wrong direction where the ONE WAY sign was turned around backwards, with the lettering “NOE WAY.” However, the police have reported extra income due to ticketing in these areas, which will doubtless be used for more dyslexia-friendly signage.