There is no B

I just came back from a five hour eye examination where I was being investigated for signs of strabismus. The good news is, it appears as there is no sign of strabismus. For someone who spends a great deal of time looking at type, macular degeneration would be somewhat of a barrier. The bad, or at least interesting, news is that they ran a series of standard “read the letters” tests on me for a significant portion of the exam. Because of my research interests, I was aware that the typeface they were using was Sloan (you can download a version of it for free thanks to Denis Pelli).

I also know that there was never a complete alphabet designed. The letters designed for the original Sloan alphabet were C, D, H, K, N, O, R, S, V and Z. Because of this, I am capable of giving the examiner a false impression of my visual acuity. How? If  I see a letter appears to be a B, I will instinctively answer D because, due to my prior knowledge of the typeface, I know there is no B.

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