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Going bold: Ford to thicken fonts on interior controls

Consumer Reports News: June 24, 2011 10:08 AM

In an effort to address the needs of the increasing population of baby boomers, Ford is making some changes to their fonts to make them easier to read on interior displays.

The letters and numbers on the center stack will be thicker and bolder (about 40-percent wider stroke) starting with the 2013 Ford Edge and Explorer.

Ford conducted a legibility study with young participants and retirees, focused on two areas: the size and shapes of fonts and their contrast. Researchers found that even small changes made it easier to read the information quickly. They noted that when font changes were made to the older groups, everyone could read it. The fonts that were most readable had a larger height, wider width, and thinner stroke.

Vision problems are more common as people age. Over time, the lens of the eye hardens, the field of view narrows, and it’s harder to see in low light conditions. In addition, visual conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are more common in later life.

Addressing the needs of the aging population is important for automakers as people over 65 will soon outnumber children under 5 for the first time ever. Seventy-eight percent of the population 70 years old are licensed drivers and are keeping their licenses longer and are driving more miles.

Simple changes to cars, such as bolder text, can better accommodate the needs of the swelling, older population. We hope rearward visibility is likewise addressed in future models, reversing a troubling trend that no doubt impacts older drivers the most.

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Liza Barth

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