Saturday, May 31, 2014
Reading + Color = A Great Combination for Struggling Readers of ALL Ages!
During the past several years, we have met many parents, teachers and adults at educational conferences who were looking for solutions for struggling readers. More than a few have asked for strategies and tips to help challenged readers in their children, their students or sometimes even for themselves.
Sometime ago, we actually created a list of such strategies that we provide for the individuals we serve when they order our Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759). However, we also post it (FREE, of course!) on our website for all who might benefit. You can access this list by visiting Strategies and Accommodations for Challenged Learners.
A number of readers who have implemented some of the strategies on the list involving the use of COLOR have shared with us their individual experiences with some of those tips. We always find personal testimonies to be very valuable to others and thought our readers here might benefit from reading just a few of their stories in this week's blog article.
The Woman and the Pink Paper
We sometimes receive calls from around the world from parents and teachers of struggling readers, but most of our requests for phone consultation come from here in the U.S. One such call came to us one day about a year ago. A woman called to ask why she was not able to read for long periods at a time. She mentioned that her eyes tired easily and far too quickly for her to accomplish much reading at all.
We asked the woman (age unknown) if she had tried to modify the page backgrounds of the texts she had been attempting to read. She said she had not yet tried that strategy and asked why this might matter in her situation. We explained that "white" page backgrounds can sometimes cause "visual stress" for many readers. The traditional black text on white ground can often be too stark of a contrast for more readers than one might imagine. Therefore, eyes tire much more easily, reading times are shortened and reading work is often not completed as expected.
We then suggested to the woman that she print or copy documents from her computer using a pastel color (rather than the usual white paper). We also recommended that she try a DIFFERENT pastel color EACH week until she could determine the color that was most comfortable for her and helped promote the most focus and attention. In addition, we mentioned that local office supply stores usually can provide a ream of paper (for about $12.00) with 5 or 6 different pastel colors in the one package. She was intrigued with this new strategy and was ready to try it right after our conversation concluded.
Several weeks later, we received a second phone call from this challenged reader, telling us that our recommended strategy had really worked for her. She then said, "Now, I print everything I can on PINK paper!" Thanks so much for telling me about this tip!" Again, color can unblock brain pathways and improve connectivity in the brain.
"Mom, It Has to Be Green!"
About 3 years ago, we received a phone call from the mother of a gifted child (on the autism spectrum) in St. Louis. She described her 8 year-old son as interested in learning about everything, but he struggled to read. She could not understand why he was challenged in this way. This prevented him from learning about all the things that most interested him. This mother homeschooled her son and also enrolled him in a supplemental program for gifted in the local school district. On the phone, we talked about visual stress and white page backgrounds as possible culprits. She asked if we could meet with her and allow her son to interact or try our Reading Focus Cards. Of course, we made arrangements to do just that on the following day.
At our meeting, this very articulate young boy told us that he liked the green reading tools, but any tool he used would also need to have green filters. We accommodated him and custom-cut 2 green filters for his needs. His mother mentioned to us as an aside that he was in a "green" mood lately and that he wanted everything to be some color or shade of green (specific color, texture and other types of preferences can sometimes be symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder.) At that same meeting, we also recommended that a visit be scheduled with a developmental optometrist in the area for further evaluation of her son's reading issues. An appointment was made with the Pupil Project at the University of Missouri-School of Optometry (specialists in developmental optometry).
Even today, three years later, this young man sometimes uses his green Reading Focus Card with its green filter to read with more comfort, focus and retention. He remembered us at a local educational event not too long ago and said, "You made my green focus card so that I could read!" Color can do some awesome things for some readers!
The "Exhausted" Red Overlay
We will never forget the woman (about 50 years of age) who visited us at an educational conference about 2 years ago. She arrived at our exhibit table with a very large piece of red but transparent plastic sheeting (about 18" x 24" in size). We could see that the red transparency was crinkled in many places, yet the woman held it carefully with her 2 hands. We must have looked puzzled when we saw it, for the woman began to explain that this was one of her most important tools. She could not read without it and so was seeking a replacement for her "battle-worn" reading device. She had been unable to find a red transparency material---anywhere. She asked if we could help her.
Although we occasionally provide specific colors of overlays for our clients and customers, our reading tools of choice are the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), since they promote more focus AND block out more surrounding text than any other reading tools available. In addition, these tools can change page background colors with the reading window filters included with the Reading Focus Cards. It is important to note that when color is introduced, especially for challenged readers, it can unblock brain pathways, promote more focus and improve reading comprehension. Color was certainly important to this woman who struggled to read.
She had seen our reading tools displayed on the exhibit table, which caused the woman to stop and inquire. We mentioned to her that we would be able to provide her with 2 RED reading filters for a set of reading tools in our Reading Focus Card Combo Pack. A demonstration followed, and it was obvious that this woman became excited about having a possible replacement tool for her wrinkled, red overlay. She immediately purchased 2 Combo Packs plus the special set of 2 red filters (Our Reading Focus Card Combo Packs are always packaged with yellow, deep blue and clear filters, as per recommendation by developmental optometrists,)
Just a few days later, the woman sent us an email about how the Reading Focus Cards with the red filters had helped her focus and read better. She also mentioned how they were so much more portable than her worn-out overlay had been. We were not surprised but very pleased to help her!
Solution Found for This Dad Who Struggled to Read
About 2 months ago at the most recent Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo, one father saw our Reading Focus Cards displayed and immediately stopped and asked if he could try them on the spot. That is why we have our reading tools available at every educational conference we visit, so that anyone who wishes can interact with them and see firsthand how they can help an individual reader.
This dad was about 45 years old and indicated to us that he had been a challenged reader all of his life. However, as he picked up one of our taupe brown Reading Focus Cards with the deep blue filter installed in it, he was so surprised to find that text "stopped moving" when he placed it on a page of print at the table. We were not surprised because we have witnessed this more than a few times. He left our table and the conference with 2 Reading Focus Card Combo Packs to help him focus and read with more success.
Yes, color can make such a difference for challenged readers of any age and at any time.
Color & Focusing Resources for Challenged Readers of ALL Ages
Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
NEW innovative DESKTOP app to help challenged readers experience much more FOCUS and VISUAL COMFORT when reading on a Mac or Windows PC. Please visit http://www.focusandread.com/page/488513590 to learn more about this fully-customizable Reading Focus Cards app that enables struggling readers of ALL ages to experience more reading SUCCESS with DIGITAL media!
FREE Downloadable Paper Resources for Writing & Printing
For more information on customizable reading tools that employ COLOR for better focus & improved attention, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
Image courtesy of:
GLBT News at http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/news/archives/697
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com