Fast Company Recognizes Readability Matters


Los Angeles, May 4, 2021 — The Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to pursuing innovation for the good of society and the planet. Once again, Readability Matters is proud to be named among Fast Company’s celebrated world-changing companies.

Citing our work with partners at Adobe, the University of Central Florida, and Brown University, Readability Matters was recognized in the Experimental category, which includes ventures that “have the potential to change how we think about an issue.” The Adobe Readability initiative was also celebrated in the Education and Software categories.

The World Changing Ideas Awards is now in its fifth year. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 4,000 entries from across the globe. Showcasing some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling exigent global challenges, Fast Company’s Summer 2021 issue (on newsstands May 10) highlights, among others, a lifesaving bassinet; the world’s largest carbon sink, thanks to carbon-eating concrete; 3D-printed schools; an at-home COVID-19 testing kit; a mobile voting app; and the world’s cleanest milk.

“There is no question our society and planet are facing deeply troubling times. So, it’s important to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, impact, design, scalability, and passion to solve these problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have discovered some of the most groundbreaking projects that have launched since the start of 2020.”

Today technology usage has reached levels that were not expected for many years. As digital reading increases for knowledge workers and students, improvements in reading efficiencies are even more urgent. For the last fifteen years, Founders Kathy Crowley and Marjorie Jordan have been talking to tech companies about the importance of treating reading as an individual activity, giving each reader material in their own preferred format to make them the best reader they can be.

In 2020 we moved from concept to public releases of new tools:

  • Adobe released new Readability Features to millions of Acrobat Reader users: After Adobe and Readability Matters’ proof of concept, Adobe built and released new features in the free Acrobat Reader on mobile platforms. There are more than 2.5 Trillion PDFs in the world today; making content reflowable and personalizable enables readers to be more efficient and effective. Reader is the first reading application to include granular control of character spacing, a feature proven to offer benefit. The partnership and product were announced at Adobe Max in October.
  • The Virtual Readability Lab, a Lab in the Wild, launched in July. The tool is available to the public for testing their reading performance with change to font and character spacing. This tool allows UCF, Adobe, and Readability Matters to scale, building the first Big Data repository of reading information.
  • The Readability demo Sandbox was released featuring new variable font technology in October. (Variable fonts offer control of character weight and width.) The new tool is available for public use in GitHub under an open-source license to allow leverage of the technology.

Readability Matters and our partners came together to create the building blocks necessary for broad implementation. This is the beginning of a revolution in reading technology. We are just scratching the surface of what readability changes can offer readers.

Join our effort. Contact us at [email protected].


About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

About Readability Matters: The nonprofit Readability Matters works to build better reading. They engage an ecosystem of partners to deliver better reading environments, empowering everyone everywhere to achieve more. For more information, visit

About Adobe: Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. Learn more about how Adobe is Reimagining reading.

About the Virtual Readability Lab: Under the direction of Dr. Ben D. Sawyer, at the University of Central Florida, the Virtual Readability Laboratory (VRL) is retooling the written word for digital age documents.
The Architect of the VRL is Shaun Wallace, a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University and a researcher with a focus on HCI and Big Data systems.

About World Education: In the United States, World Education supports older youth and adult learners by strengthening the educators, organizations, and systems that serve them. World Education is a national leader in building the adult education system’s capacity to provide high-quality instruction and advising for adult learners.
The EdTech Center @ World Education was launched to leverage new digital technologies to increase the reach and impact of adult education. The staff collaborates to design and implement projects using educational technologies to increase the education, career, and life outcomes of lower-skilled adults and youth.