Irlen coloured filters for dyslexics - views and opinions?

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Post by jenny » Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:23 pm

The man to talk to about visual matters relating to reading is Ian Jordan who is an opthamologist with specialist knowledge in this area. He does have a website and runs training sessions as well as writing articles for journals such as Special and Special Children.
My concern with regard to children with reading difficulties is the use of classroom whiteboards (interactive or otherwise). Depending on colour of pen used they can be very difficult for some people to read. Personally I'd have a blackboard everytime. It is possible, I am told, to change the background of an interactive whiteboard to black but I have not yet worked out how to do it!

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Post by g.carter » Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:54 pm

This is interesting Jenny. I read somewhere that there is some concern about whiteboards - but can't for the life of me remember where I read it.

tom burkard
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Post by tom burkard » Tue Feb 21, 2006 5:13 pm

We used to have a lot of pupils with tinted overlays or glasses, and once the novelty wore off, parents were forever nagging them to use them. From the screening we did at Costessey High using Arnold Wilkin's Rate of Reading Test, the condition would appear to be very rare. Certainly, the Ihrlen Institute used to use a test which produced huge numbers of false positives.

However, in 2000 we started using a cursor--a piece of card about the size of a business card, with a notch cut out. Since then, we haven't had a single problem with 'letters moving around'. I suspect that Debbie is right--they way kids are taught to read is the main culprit.
Tom Burkard
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Post by Anna » Tue Feb 21, 2006 6:12 pm

Hi all,

I went to an interesting talk held by my local dyslexia group recently, given by an optometrist called Clyde Alexander. His view is similar to that of the chap quted by Jim ie that the main problem is due to poor convergence rather than scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome. He uses tracking exercises - but from the outside in - ie left eye reads words from left and right from right, until they meet.

He did say that in his opinion anything is better than the glare caused by black print on white paper (esp glossy) so recommended using coloured paper which I do for worksheets and the Sound Reading System decodable stories.

He also made the key point that phonics teaching is vital. Any number of eye exercises won't teach a pupil the advanced code, which is usually where they are really floundering. My pupils are all making good progress usually the Sound Reading System which I just started teaching this term and are guessing less. I find the worst guessing is the substitution of "sight words".

I just taught a pupil yesterday who is really starting to think well about sounds in words but when decoding unfamiliar words (in decodable text) can still revert to wild guessing by scanning all over the word and picking letters out to make nonsense words. I think it takes lots of practice, guiding them that they can work out the words as they know the sounds. Unlearning bad habits always takes so much longer. They are really chuffed when they manage it though! Although guessing may initially seem less work, it provides a lot of security to realise the code is actually there in the text and they can work it out with their phonic knowledge.

One pupil who has the most significant "dyslexic" problems, weak short-term auditory memory and slow language processing will need the most practise to become automatic. He still misreads vowels quite a bit and inserts sounds where they are there or muddles the order of sounds - in basic code words where he knows the code. As others have mentioned here, I think this is where programmes like Hickey fall into the trap of starting from the beginning again if there are any weaknesses. This becomes deathly boring for many children doing remedial programmes.

Whereas this programme provides the code in a brain-friendly way and provides structured active tasks to to continually practise the code while adding new sounds. I am really enjoying teaching it and feel confident in what I am doing as the rationale behind it is so logical and so well grounded in the results of the last 20 years of research. Switching from analytical phonic remedial programmes to synthetic phonics has certainly been a revalation to me!


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Post by g.carter » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:05 am

Anna - welcome to the phonics switch!

To-day at the optician I heard an interesting story about the effect of coloured overlays. The optician ( late diagnosed dyslexic, member of mensa, failed A level twice, low self-esteem etc.) told me that while at City University she was asked to take part in an observation for tinted overlays. The first colours, red, blue, yellow had no effect, atall, but the next, a yellowy-pink, left her absolutely stunned. For the first time she saw print in 2 dimensions. All her life she has seen print in 3 dimensions. For studies she wore the yellow-pink glasses but now doesn't bother - and sees print in 3-dimensions- it's what's she's used to. I've taught one boy who wore that colour of specs and said that they helped.

also they observed her reading text with machine(?) for detecting tracking - and the machine recorded the fact that she doubles back on text she has read. 'That's why I've always been so slow and why they said I wasn't making an effort at school' (she's in late 40s, i imagine - and that injustice obviously still hurt.)

I wonder if City University ever published their findings?

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