More and more I find it unusual that we as civilized people do everything we possibly can to accommodate those to whom we are speaking when we are engaged in the arts of conversation. What I mean by this is that, if we are perchance engaged in conversation with anyone from a different social, educational, cultural, and/or age grouping that is different in any way from our own, we go completely out of our way to “code switch” and alter our spoken language significantly to adjust to the assumed accommodated levels of the individuals with whom we are speaking. We all do this instinctively (unless we happen to be in the autism spectrum disorder), and rely on continuous feedback to determine if we have accommodated correctly and to the approximate understanding levels of those we are conversationally engaged with, be they foreigners, infants, children, teenagers, ethnically different persons from us, MR/DD, elderly, disabled in some way, etc.
However, when it comes to print, we show almost zero level of accommodation, unless we are in advertising marketing and our business products are grocery store items, and our messages and logos are always seen as vitally important for maximizing sales.
In order to encourage conversation and provide confidence, and well-being, we automatically code switch our speech to make all parties as comfortable as possible for the duration of the exchanges.
However, when it comes to print there is never a thought that comfort or confidence should be initially encouraged. There is no intention to provide print that fits to the readers’ levels of maximum effectiveness for participation.
This is very odd, all of this, because by and large, the entire country (almost 100%) is basically competent, to whatever degree, verbally (aside from deaf populations who rely on American sign language for communication); but the entire adult population in the US has perhaps 1/3 to 2/5 illiterate or functionally illiterate, and we do nothing in print to try to make those who have difficulty deciphering weird fonts and small print feel like they are encouraged to be an involved part of the literate population by accommodating to their difficulties.
We never assume when speaking to others of different functioning levels that they “get it” when we speak to them over their heads, and if they don’t “tough.”
But we always assume that what we put in print in any font and style of written word that all can “get it”, regardless.
Imagine what trying to read would be like if we had visual problem skills.
When we who have no visual deciphering problems are faced with the almost chaotic mess of small print and weird fonts, we generally take it for granted that it’s cute and fun and different and exciting and innovative. But for those with visual problems, and we seem to have somewhere between 60 to 90 million adults who have sensitivities in these areas, what we print, if it does not accommodate to the disabilities, becomes raw hell, and to a degree that is permanently disabling, like side walk curbs for wheelchair bound individuals.