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What Are Dyslexia Overlays?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2014
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Dyslexia overlays are transparent colored sheets people can use to cover printed material to make it easier to read. Some patients with dyslexia and other disorders related to reading and comprehension have vision problems and may benefit from the use of overlays. Additional tools can include tinted writing paper to improve readability for students, and lenses or goggles to use instead of overlays. Patients considering overlays may want to receive an evaluation from a learning disability specialist and could consider a meeting with an ophthalmologist to determine whether this tool would help.

Patients with dyslexia experience problems with printed material. These can be exacerbated by the fonts, or lettering style, used as well as the colors of both fonts and backgrounds. Research with dyslexia overlays suggests that some colors may improve readability for some patients. Students can experiment with sheets in different tones to find the ones that most effectively improve readability for them. This can allow dyslexic students to work with the same printed material the rest of the class uses, with the assistance of an adaptive device.

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Overlay guide rulers are available to highlight single lines or blocks of text. These may be helpful for people who find that their eyes wander while they read and they have trouble focusing on individual lines. Otherwise, full sheets that cover the entire page may be more helpful. Some dyslexia overlays are treated to reduce glare, which can be an issue in bright environments, and may come with clips to attach them to the paper.

Students receiving evaluations for dyslexia may be offered an opportunity to work with dyslexia overlays to determine if they find them helpful. If such screening is not offered, patients can request it. Those who find overlays useful might also consider tinted lenses to improve readability. These can be more comfortable to work with than overlays in some settings. Community centers and support organizations may provide equipment of this nature free of charge for people to test before buying if they are concerned about the cost.

Learning disability suppliers may offer dyslexia overlays. They can also be made using transparent sheets from other sources, which are sometimes less expensive. One option can be a theatrical lighting supplier, as such companies typically sell colored gels for tinting lights. Gels are durable and can be cut to size, making them suitable for this unintended application. Transparent sheets may also be available from art and craft stores.

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