Creating Value with Personalized Readability Formats

Rick Treitman, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Adobe
Dave Crossland, Lead UX Programmes and Operations, Google Fonts
Sam Berlow, The Readability Consortium

One year ago, Adobe announced the readability initiative, which included establishment of the Virtual Readability Lab at the University of Central Florida. Join Sam Berlow, The Readability Consortium, and Dave Crossland, lead UX programmes and operations at Google Fonts, as they discuss research findings over the past year, with an emphasis on the value of typography and readability and how through new personalization features, everyone can become a better, more efficient reader.

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A Quick Guide to the Highlights

Adobe MAX: Creating Value with Personalized Readability Formats - Rick TreitmanRick kicked off the session with a discussion of the state of reading today, including low student reading scores and the $2.2 Trillion cost of low adult literacy. He observes that we have been reading “one-size-fits-all” text formats since Gutenberg set up his press and describes Adobe’s sponsorship and funding of readability research in recent years. He notes “Now we started working on this problem, but we’ve only just begun. It really calls for research on a grand scale to learn more about how digital publishing, digital reading, and this new notion of individualized reading formats can lead to better reading outcomes for everybody.”

Adobe MAX: Creating Value with Personalized Readability Formats - Sam Berlow, The Readability Consortium

The Readability Consortium Mission (click to enlarge)

Sam describes recent readability research, including a K-8th grade study on the impact of reading format on reading comprehension. (Learn more here.)  He also describes the recently formed research consortium focused on readability, The Readability Consortium. This consortium, founded by Adobe, the University of Central Florida and Readability Matters has the mission to “research the intersection of readability and information design.”


Adobe MAX: Creating Value with Personalized Readability Formats - Dave Crossland, Google Fonts

Dave explains the variable font technology and the benefits of using it for easily producing high-quality reading formats. Further, he describes the potential use of design tokens to store a reader’s best format for use across reading applications. He notes, “with a token, a user could express that preference across those many systems. That’s a big goal because there are so many building blocks needed to connect all of these key parts. But that is how I believe we can achieve more finesse and personally improve reading experience at scale.”

Watch the full presentation here.



Adobe MAX 2021About Adobe MAX

Adobe has announced MAX 2021 – the world’s biggest creativity conference – a no-cost digital experience open to everyone worldwide! The biggest names in creativity and their newest creative cloud release are coming together. Watch online for a groundbreaking immersive event that stays true to the MAX spirit of mind-blowing creativity and inspiration. Watch replays here.

Rick Treitman, AdobeAbout Rick Treitman, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Adobe
Rick started his professional career as a High School English and media teacher and published the first-ever computer-typeset student newspaper in 1975. Rick is currently Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) for Adobe Document Cloud, specializing in Education. Rick’s work as EIR involves early-stage development of tools and solutions for Adobe’s customers. Current projects include readability controls in Acrobat; establishing the Virtual Readability Lab at the University of Central Florida, and working to extend our readability work to a wider collaboration. He was a founder of Virtual Ubiquity (VU), acquired by Adobe in 2007. Virtual Ubiquity created Buzzword, one of the first cloud-based word processors. Prior to VU, Rick was the owner of Softpro Books, a Boston-area technical bookstore chain catering to high tech professionals. He was an early employee of Lotus Development where he had several positions including Director of Product Management and Marketing for various product groups. Prior to Lotus, Rick created the Polaroid Learning Project and early application of technology to the creative classroom. Rick lives in Lexington, MA with his wife, Cantor Louise Treitman. They have three daughters and six grandchildren. When not working, he’s usually on his bike or in the kitchen.

Dave Crossland, GoogleAbout Dave Crossland, Lead UX Programmes and Operations, Google Fonts
Dave Crossland attended the first Libre Graphics Meeting in 2006, and became fascinated with the potential of libre licensing to improve global design culture. The following year, he enrolled in the University of Reading (UK) MA Typeface Design program to liberate typography. He created the ‘Cantarell’ typeface family as his graduation project, a contemporary humanist sans serif developed for on-screen reading, particularly reading web pages on cheap Android devices. As a lead program manager for Google Fonts, he has commissioned 1,000 of libre fonts from 100s of designers for 10s of writing systems, plus various other projects from font editors to educational resources to live events. The way type design combines visual culture, language, technology, business, history – and its ubiquity – make this field something Dave finds endlessly fascinating.

Sam Berlow, Type for GoodAbout Sam Berlow, The Readability Consortium
Consultant. Builder of companies, non-profits, publications, products, and platforms. The Readability Consortium is the most important initiative I have been a part of during my 35 years in the workforce. As a father, coach, school board president, and CEO, I have seen how critical reading is to the happiness and success of individuals of all ages. If we can help improve reading by personalizing the presentation of digital documents, we can change the world.