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Kayla Bostick


Colored Overlays

Colored overlays are a thin colored plastic that is placed over a
page of text!

Colored overlays work for all students. Although research shows

overlays significantly help students with disabilities, such as

dyslexia or autism, research shows students without disabilities

also read more words per minute with an overlay than without


The most common overlay colors used


Clear or None

Why/How This Strategy Works:

Colored overlays are a tool to help students with symptoms of visual stress,
blurring of words, bending of lines, and movement of letters. This can be
caused by having a sensitivity of the retina to light frequencies. This causes
the most difficulty for students on pages that are black and white. Since not
all students have the same sensitivity level, particular colors can help
differently for each student. Overlays help to filter out fluorescent lights so
the symptoms students face are reduced or completely removed.
Steps to Use This Strategy When Teaching:
1. Give a student a grade level appropriate book.
2. On one page place a colored overlay while keeping the other page as
is, and ask student which side is clearer.
3. If the student says the white page is clearer, place a new overlay on
the opposite page and repeat process.
4. If the student says the overlay page is clearer, add a different colored
overlay to the white page and repeat the process.
5. Repeat this process for all the colored overlays until the student finds
the overlay that is the clearest for them.
6. Repeat this process for all students in your class.
7. After testing is done, place the overlays in an easily accessible spot in
the classroom for the remainder of the year.
Douglas, D., Tyrell, R., & Wilkins, A. (1995). Coloured overlays, visual discomfort,
visual search and classroom reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 18(1),
Heaton, P., Ludlow, A. K., & Wilkins, A. J. (2006). The effect of coloured overlays on
reading ability in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental
Disorders, 36(4), 507-516.
Henderson, L. M., Snowling, M. J., & Tsogka, N. (2013). Questioning the benefits that
coloured overlays can have for reading in students with and without
dyslexia. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 13(1), 57-65.
Lewis, E., Rowland, E., Smith, F., Tweedie, W., & Wilkins, A. J. (2001). Coloured
overlays and their benefit for reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 24(1),