Coloured Overlays – Suitable For Dyslexic Students?

Dyslexia is a neurological condition; a form of learning disability which affects a person’s ability to learn regarding how to read and write.


There are many students in England, who are suffering from dyslexia. Dyslexia is a neurological condition; a form of learning disability which affects a person’s ability to learn regarding how to read and write. Some research states that individuals who have dyslexia usually find it difficult to process and represent certain sounds of language. This means that they would have difficulty in relating the printed letter to the relevant sound of the speech; which eventually causes reading difficulties for them.

Recently, it has been seen that the use of coloured filters and lenses can decrease the visual distortions for individuals having dyslexia. The idea is to ensure that the overlays which are translucent pieces of plastic would add colour to the text. However, there have been mixed reviews regarding the use of it. Some people are of the view that making use of coloured filters gave a kind of false hope to students with dyslexia, which was not justified at all. The focus should be more towards the delivery and promotion of the evidence-based interventions by the people who work in this field. They should ensure that systematic teaching of letter to sound combination or the use of technology support for text to speech software should be carried out here.

Numerous students have dyslexia and go through visual stress. Visual stress is a form of the perceptual disorder that results in apparent movement and distortion of text, headaches and even eyestrain; all this occurs when the individual is reading. It is believed that around 12-14% general population tend to have visual stress symptoms. There are reports that the range goes up to 46% and 76% in populations of dyslexia and poor readers as well. Some people are of the view that dyslexia might be the reason for visual impairments taking place.

Individuals who support this theory are of the view that prescribed coloured eyeglasses or plastic overlays help in decreasing the visual distortions. Moreover, when the visual stress is removed from the equation, it would lead to reading and facilitating the development of reading skills for a longer period, which would help students having dyslexia. It is important to note here that the simplicity of this particular intervention has helped numerous areas, which are teachers, educational psychologists, optometrists and NHS orthoptic departments all over the UK.

Although, the visual stress issue has been investigated for 40 years now; this particular aspect is not recognised by the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Disease, the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the American Optometric Association. It would not be wrong to state here that this particular aspect is seen as a neuromyths of education. There has been heated debate regarding this aspect whether the coloured overlays should be used to support the reading of individuals with dyslexia or not.

The debate is a continuous one regarding the use of coloured overlays for dyslexic children. The appropriate approach here would be to ensure that detailed research is carried out to see if the coloured overlays have any impact on the students suffering from dyslexia or not. It is believed that whatever research has been carried out in this area, there is no appropriate evidence which can ensure that the coloured overlays aspect works. New research needs to be carried out which would solely focus on the dyslexic students that are studying in schools. This would help in ensuring to collect information related to only those individuals and see if there is any kind of visual distortions that takes place, and how it can be decreased.


Author bio:

Isabella Weston is a career counsellor at British Assignment Service, who spends some of her time in reading and writing about dyslexia. Apart from being a counsellor, Weston is also interested in cooking and playing volleyball.