See Words: Anywhere

Illiteracy affects all aspects of an individual’s life. Lacking basic reading and writing skills is a disadvantage, and a wide body of research in the field of literacy has demonstrated a positive correlation between an individual’s ability to read and their overall success in life. See Words: Anywhere, a digital reading proficiency system and method of learning addresses this important need.


Learning by Design Lab

Practice Area


See Words Design LLC

The Challenge

How can experiential design support emerging readers? How do we help struggling readers remember that letter’s assigned phonetic sound? How can we assist their teachers? See Words: Anywhere and its indispensable font companion SeeType were developed to benefit both. Whether an adult learning to read or a third grader still trying to master reading, the See Word Anywhere experience works as a readily available support tool to access whenever reading help is needed. Teachers find assistance through individualizing instruction, and assess where students are struggling so that further interventions can be established.

Project Vision

The team has been awarded a $250,000 University of Cincinnati Research 2030 grant to expand this tool and test on a target audience. In addition to phonics cues as seen in the SeeType font, the team plans to develop morphological, spelling, grammar, reading fluency, and vocabulary cues to best support the diverse range of learning styles. Finally, the tool will have the ability for a teacher/tutor to generate their content, lessons, assign areas of focus and track progress. This tool will motivate and encourage emerging readers to read the things they love and grow their abilities in the process. The team is on a mission to build the skill and will to read one person at a time. Hopefully, creating greater equity in literacy worldwide.

See Words: Anywhere is a digital reading proficiency system and method of learning phonics that transforms letters into icons to help individuals learn to read.

Reneé Seward

Reneé Seward

Young reader rolls over with cursor an uncertain letter’s sound. Instantly, a SeeType icon for “alien” appears and in tandem with an audio saying “alien.”

Reneé Seward

Design + Execution

SeeType’s font development was guided by design principles, educational science, and research. To this end, the team collaborated with linguists, teachers, and reading specialists using a co-design methodology.
Specialists developed a list of object words containing each of the 44 sounds of the English language. From this list, the Learning by Design Lab (LDL) team developed glyph candidates. From day one, the LDL team felt SeeType’s glyphs had to have two capabilities. First, to ensure reading ease, the glyphs had to naturally embed themselves within the lines of body text. And second, SeeType glyphs must in every possible way visually “echo” the letter shape/s.

Then, the reader finds another questioned letter and a SeeType icon for “dog” appears with audio saying “dog.”

Reneé Seward

Reneé Seward

Reneé Seward

Renee Seward
Project Details
I really enjoy the accessibility this project can bring to new readers or anyone learning how to read the English language. You can see how technology can be used to give access to current events and having a reader’s mind connected to imagery embedded into the letterforms helps put things into perspective.
Juror 1
A clever study of making typography more accessible and experiential. Beautiful in its simplicity.
Juror 2
Design Team

Oscar Fernández
Shannon Healey
Lily Li
Frida Medrano
Spencer Roberts
Reneé Seward
Akshat Srivastava


Allison Breit (educational/literacy researcher & expert)
Nancy Creaghead (educational/literacy researcher & expert)
Jenny Halvovick (educational/literacy researcher & expert)
Jennifer Keelor (educational/literacy researcher & expert)
Kristie Thompson (educational/literacy researcher & expert)
Steve Daly (technology specialist)
Nancy Koors (commercialization advisor)

Photo Credits

Reneé Seward

Open Date

September 2019