When I was in elementary school, I began to realize that my learning pattern was different from that of my classmates. I had great difficulty doing anything that involved reading or spelling. The struggles led to many negative experiences and bad memories. My parents even considered transferring me to a special needs school.
They had me tested, and I was officially diagnosed with dyslexia (learning disorder that causes problems with reading, writing, and spelling). However, my parents didn’t tell me about my diagnosis, and continued working with me based on the guidelines the doctor gave them. At that time, I had no idea there were hundreds of millions of people in the world dealing with the same issue as me. And I couldn’t have imagined that this mysterious condition, which was making my life complicated, would eventually end up setting the direction of my life.
Almost seven years after the diagnosis, when I was 14, I came across an episode of one American TV show in which the host interviewed a kid with dyslexia. The kid had exactly the same symptoms as me. I talked to my parents about the episode, and they confirmed I was dyslexic. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very happy that my parents kept it from me for so long! But I eventually understood why they did what they did. After all, I had a very low self-esteem at that time, and learning disabilities were not a widely discussed topic in Slovakia (they still aren’t but it’s much better now than in the 90s). Few years later, I discovered I had visual stress (sensitivity to visual patterns) as well.
Even though finding out I was dyslexic with visual stress wasn’t positive news, it explained why that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do certain things at the rate my peers could do them. My dyslexia is also what triggered my interests in typography and design.
I completed a master’s degree in Type and Media at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague in the Netherlands (one of the top art schools in the world). My university studies also mark the birth of Dysfont—a unique typeface designed to help people with dyslexia and/or visual stress overcome their reading difficulties. I developed the first version of Dysfont as part of my bachelor’s thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava.
Upon graduation, I joined the corporate world by becoming a full-time graphic designer. Over the course of more than ten years, I worked for numerous clients at different roles, including as an Art Director at PURO Creative and a Head of Brand Design at Studio Echt. I designed everything from websites and visual identities to online/offline marketing materials and motion graphics for some of the best-known startups, corporations, and non-profit organizations in Central and Eastern Europe (more information about my career can be found here). But I never forgot about Dysfont, and the idea of taking the project to the next stage stuck in my mind.
After receiving positive feedback from people who used Dysfont, as well as introducing the font at events, such as TEDx, I’ve decided to transition from the private sector to a full-time focus on the project.
I'm currently working on a new version of Dysfont. My vision is to raise awareness about design for people with dyslexia and visual stress to help reduce the impact of learning disorders on their lives.
To illustrate how common dyslexia is, one out of five people in the world is dyslexic according to The The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC). Moreover, dyslexia represents 80–90% of all those with learning disabilities, and more than 75,000 babies are born with dyslexia every single day.
Society is structured in a way that excludes certain people from thriving and reaching their full potential. That’s why I believe that we can minimise the influence of dyslexia and visual stress on people’s lives.
Dyslexia and visual stress are lifelong conditions which cannot be cured. But their impact can be reduced if the right approach is used. I’ve decided to contribute by developing Dysfont. But I’m not going to be able to do it all alone. Hence, I’m now looking for strategic partners who will help me turn Dysfont into an established solution for neurodivergent people all over the world. Together, we can build a global platform which will help individuals from all walks of life succeed with dyslexia and visual stress.