How Colored Overlays Enhance Self Esteem

by Robert Locke on January 16, 2014

There has been quite a buzz about how colored overlays enhance self-esteem when reading and how they can make the whole reading process a lot more enjoyable.

We shall mention briefly some research and experiments which have put colored overlays in the spotlight and then examine some strategies when using colored overlays with our children.

What research studies have revealed about how colored overlays enhance self esteem

Research studies have pointed up the various problems that some children have when they are faced with a reading task. Dyslexia, phonetic issues and perceptual distortion are among the most common ones.

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It is estimated that as many as 5% -10% of kids have problems in this area.  Stein and Walsh, 1997 noted that children were having considerable difficulty in managing their reading as the letters and words and lines seem to move around and/or indistinct. As we can imagine, that makes reading rather unsettling to say the least!

Of course, picture how these reading issues harm a child’s feelings of self-worth, when their classmates around them are having a much easier time reading.

Basically, about three quarters of children affected by dyslexia and the other reading issues mentioned are experiencing these problems because of faulty visual processing.

There may be more complicated operations involved as reading is a multi-system process which involves interpreting numerous stimuli at lightning speed. Any defect in that process will put the whole operation at risk.

How colored overlays enhance self esteem

Lots of kids have eyesight problems so these have to be checked out first. But other kids with otherwise perfect vision seem to have problems with the contrast caused by the black print on a white background.

Some children, after using colored overlays for even a few days, read more efficiently.  Colored overlays will not turn kids into instant speed readers, but what they will do is clear up the distorted print and just that one thing will show parents and teachers how colored overlays enhance self esteem and change a child’s perception of themselves.

This enhancement will carry over into all subjects in school as well.

When using these colored overlays, teachers and parents are advised to carry out the following procedure. Once children find reading easier, their self esteem will increase and they will be much more confident about other learning tasks too.

  •  ask kids to choose the color they feel happier with
  • ask them what is better – is there any improvement in the clarity of the letters and so on
  • ask them about the glare because that is often a problem – with colored overlays, that can improve
  • ask them if they feel that their eyes are hurting or if they get headaches. Do they note any improvement in discomfort over a period of time?
  • find out how long they are able to read without feeling any discomfort.
  • a week or longer trial is usually recommended

Colored overlays are an excellent alternative to colored glasses

Many children are able to enjoy the reading using these colored overlays and it seems that the beginning critical age is about 7 years old. From there, even adults will benefit from colored overlays and also using them over their computer screens.

This is certainly a much cheaper alternative than getting colored glasses. The whole reading process needs careful monitoring and of course, the overlays are not a perfect fit for every child. Also, reading specialists recommend that you take your child for a learning related vision exam with a developmental optometrist.

School lighting can be a factor

Most classrooms (around 80%) are lit by fluorescent lighting and that can cause an uncomfortable flicker for everyone.  They tend to flicker at a certain rate that can cause eye strain, headaches and create fatigue.

Grades improve immediately in schools that place full spectrum lighting in their classrooms. Full spectrum lights are just light daylight whereas other lights are yellowish in color. In cases where kids can’t be in full spectrum light, they should be moved to other areas where there is more natural light or where the flicker is less bothersome. (Arnold Wilkins, Visual Perception Unit, University of Essex, Colchester UK)

Why self esteem is so important

Building self- esteem is a vital component in the education of every child. In this way, they can naturally eliminate anxiety and frustration. Self-esteem means confidence in not only being loved but in being able to cope with everything that occurs in life and make solid and informed choices.

Colored overlays can increase self esteem in a very cost efficient way. They also learn how to solve problems. Reading is the one of the biggest keys to confidence building and finding solutions. We should be looking at lots of different ways to encourage ease and speed of reading.

Robert Locke MBE, is a health enthusiast specializing in children’s health and has written extensively on ADHD, parenting, mental health, anxiety and depression. You can discover more how colored overlays enhance self-esteem and other parenting and educational issues by visiting the Problem Kids Blog.

He has researched how colored overlays enhance self esteem.


3 Best Tips to Use Colored Overlays to Improve Reading

by Veronica Mason on December 1, 2013

Colored overlays have been used by educators and parents since the 1970’s to help students improve their reading and this article contains the 3 best tips to use colored overlays to improve reading.

Interestingly, their results have been hotly debated by researchers and educators alike. The key to success, though, is proper diagnostics and usage.

colored overlays      Learning about which symptoms can be helped by colored overlays, such as autism and ADHD, and how to implement the colored overlays in your classroom and at home can potentially bring the joy of reading to even your most struggling student.

What are the Symptoms that the 3 Best Tips to Use Colored Overlays to Improve Reading Improve?

Students who struggle with visual-perceptual disorders are believed to have trouble seeing the letters clearly reading black ink on white paper. The exact causes and manifestations of the disorder are still being widely researched.

Essentially, the problem can produce symptoms of text distortion, moving or shaking text, straight lines looking wavy, poor depth perception, eye strain, severe headaches, and sensitivity to particular types of light. This symptoms obviously inhibit reading, since the text is difficult to make out, and sustained reading becomes painful.

colored overlays         Various studies have been performed to prove the effectiveness of colored overlays for students with reading difficulties. Some of these studies have been refuted based on poor performance, but others have shown a significant increase in reading test scores and comprehension for students that might have certain reading challenges.

The important point, though, is to be wary in assuming every struggling reader will be aided by the overlays—a proper diagnosis by a developmental optometrist is the first step to determine the underlying cause of the reading challenges. they are specifically intended for readers with the sensitivity syndrome. While some readers with dyslexia or other reading disorders may see some improvement when using the overlays, it is not a proven result.

Here are the 3 best tips to use colored overlays to improve reading and to assist some struggling readers with reading clarity and comprehension.

1.     Check for overall vision problems first.

Many problems plaguing readers might be solved with a developmental vision screening and exam.

This will rule out problems such as vision accommodation, binocular vision, and problems with ocular motor function. These problems will only continue plaguing the reader while using the overlays, increasing frustration and decreasing the overlays’ efficacy. If there is no sign of problems from these exams, or if difficulties persist with corrections, proceed to finding the right color of overlay for your reader.

Visit and to find an optometrist who can perform a regular eye exam as well as a vision related eye exam.

2.   Find the right color.

colored overlays       Colored overlays will reduce the contrast between the white page and black ink, reducing the strain on the reader’s eyes. While there are “official” tests you can perform to assign the correct color, basic trial and error will work well enough simply by asking your child which color “feels the best.”

With the right color, words should stop shaking and the lines will no longer look wavy to the student. However, because the syndrome also includes symptoms of light sensitivity, different types of lighting (fluorescent, natural, etc.) could affect the correct color choice.

3.  Continue with proper, individualized reading instruction

The color overlays themselves do not create good readers—they create conditions that clear up the print on a page and reduce visual stress so that students can read the words on the page, allowing them to develop good reading habits and skills.

The overlays can help students focus more on groups of words and the connections between them, instead of focusing on trying to make out individual letters and words. Using overlays will potentially allow teachers to work on comprehension and more advanced reading skills with students.

The most important point, though, is to not let the overlays do the teaching—the use of overlays must be followed up with individualized, remedial teaching to help the reader regain confidence and an appropriate skill level. Otherwise, only an immediate, increased effect will be realized, followed by a plateau.

Colored overlays may very well be the doorway to a love of reading for some hesitant readers. However, they do not guarantee success for everyone. In order to garner the best results from colored overlays, be careful in diagnosing the reading problem, choose the correct color for each individual, and continue faithfully in reading instruction. Using these tips, you and your readers have the hope of opening a book without frustration and reading a story for the fun of it.

Veronica Mason uses her passion for education to write articles and help students find the best learning experience. She enjoys learning about innovations in education, particularly online classes. Veronica also loves helping students find the right education experience, whether at a Calgary college or a southern university and is an expert in how to use colored overlays.

More articles on colored overlays

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