Colored Overlays and the Effects on Reading
Colored Overlays pertain to people with learning disabilities (LD), which can include visual processing issues. These DO NOT generally  pertain to people with true visual impairments. I am often asked about this topic, and include it here for use by special educators, parents, and as general information.                                
 
Although of unclear origins, Irlen Syndrome is visual processing difficulty involving difficulty filtering light. This was previously called Scotopic Syndrome (an older term). It has been observed that a very small percentage of children  and adults with reading difficulties are assisted by use of specific, personalized, colored plastic sheets placed over their reading material. Some people find glasses with colored tints help as well.
 
People with this visual processing difficulty have distortions when observing reading material. Born this way, they often do not know the print seems to move or wiggle until introduced to the colored overlay that helps the distortions appear to stop. This affects a very small percentage of people, and is controversial whether this is truly a syndrome, and whether colored overlays are very effective. Through observation and anecdotal research, many feel these overlays create great positive changes that improve their reading experience. If colored overlays are found helpful, computer contrast adaptions may be helpful, as well. 
 
                     Photo of turquoise blue overlay on text.
 
Distortions include:  (See distortion examples on Irlen Institute website- http://irlen.com/distortioneffects.php )
  • Blurry
  • Halo-    The words appear to double, having a doubled shadow next to each letter.
  • Rivers-  The spacing appears distorted: wheresom ew ordsa re cr owded,oth ersspace dinc orrectly.  
  • Seesaw- Lines of print run in diagonal directions, letters crisscrossing over each other.
  • Swirl
  • Washout- Varying levels of text light and dark contrast
  • Shaky 
Click the below link to access a document about the Basics of Overlays.
                   Basics of Colored Overlays 
                           Photo of various colored overlays                                  


See this Worksheet on Colored Overlays and Ordering:
            How to Order Colored Overlays 
 
 
Last Modified on Thursday at 10:59 AM
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