ANDIKA: New Literacy Font Released

(August 2006) SIL International is pleased to announce the release of the first phase of the Andika font project: the Andika Design Review. Andika—which means "Write!" in Swahili—is a sans serif font developed especially for literacy use, taking into account the readability needs of beginning readers and writers. The design focus is on clear, easy-to-perceive letterforms that readers will not easily confuse with one another.

A sans serif font is preferred by some literacy personnel for teaching people to read and write. Its forms are simpler and less cluttered than some serif fonts. For years literacy workers have had to use fonts that were not completely suitable for beginning readers and writers. In some cases, literacy specialists have had to tediously assemble letters from a variety of fonts in order to get the all of characters they needed for a particular language project, resulting in confusing and unattractive publications. Andika addresses those issues with a single, Unicode-compliant font.

The Andika Design Review font supports close to 600 glyphs, those necessary for basic Macintosh and Windows computer operating systems, plus a small number of common special characters. It is meant for testing purposes, and so it is intentionally incomplete in order to speed this initial release. When fully developed, Andika will support all extended Latin and Cyrillic ranges of Unicode—over 3,000 characters in all. This will enable the use of Andika in any language written using these scripts—literally hundreds around the world. This is in keeping with SIL's other Unicode-compliant Roman fonts, Doulos SIL and Charis SIL. Like Charis SIL, Andika will be a family of four typefaces: regular, italic, bold, and bold italic.

The principal purpose of this font release is to provide a six-month window for feedback from literacy specialists who work directly with new readers and know literacy font needs best. Comments are being sought regarding character shapes, spacing, diacritic design and size, plus other details related to the practical use of this font. Once the feedback period is completed on January 31, 2007, the design will be adjusted as needed and all the other glyphs required to complete the full set will be finalized.

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