Visual Prosody

There is a great discrepancy between speech and reading. Through speech, people have at their disposal a wide range of means of communication such as intonation, expression and emotion. These specific tools (speech functions) for conveying a message (more) clearly and/or pronouncing it correctly are classified as prosody. However, when reading a text, these tools or instructions are not present. These speech functions can be crucial though in understanding exactly what the speaker is trying to convey. Expressive reading out loud can be quantified in terms of prosodic variations.

Fonts are not as expressive as our voices. Words put together in a sentence are completely uniform in weight, size and style. A monotonous voice impairs reading ability and reading comprehension. From our graphic design perspective, however, we have proven that type design can make prosody visual. In addition, letters can represent different languages using different phonemes. The clear visualisation of these phonemes is beneficial for the learning of new languages because it offers a supporting function for correct pronunciation.

READSEARCH explores how visual prosody improves reading skills and reading comprehension for different target groups.

Prof. Dr. Ann Bessemans
Dr. Maria Pérez Mena
Walda Verbaenen