Colour and Dyslexia, The Why and the How.

Dyslexic individuals often experience a phenomenon called "Irlen Syndrome" or "Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome," where they perceive text as distorted or difficult to read. This can make reading a challenging and exhausting task.  


However, there are many strategies/tools and ideas that dyslexics may find useful. Whilst the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is believed that coloured filters affect how light enters the eye and how the brain processes visual information. 

Colour can be a powerful tool for helping individuals read, write, and process information. My desk is full of colourful pens, notepads, post-it notes, and highlighters. When reading a book, I find using a ruler overlay incredibly helpful—it changes the colour and stops the letters from bouncing around. Yes, they really do bounce around! 


How Colour Positively Impacts the Dyslexic Brain 

  • Reducing Glare: Coloured overlays or tinted lenses can reduce the glare and brightness of white paper or screens, which can be uncomfortable for some. 
  • Increasing Contrast: Certain colour combinations can increase the contrast between text and background, making it easier to distinguish letters and words. 
  • Minimising Visual Distortions: Colours can help minimise visual distortions experienced by dyslexic's such as blurring or swirling of text, by providing a more stable visual environment. 
  • Improving Focus: For some, using coloured overlays or lenses can help improve focus and concentration, leading to better reading comprehension and retention. 
  • Alleviating Eye Strain: Reading can be physically tiring for individuals due to the effort required to decode and process text. Colours can help reduce eye strain and fatigue, allowing for longer periods of comfortable reading. 

It’s true, colour can create a more visually comfortable reading experience for individuals, helping to improve reading fluency, comprehension, memory, and information retention. Plus, it lets us read without getting so tired. 


Key Colour Tools for Dyslexic Individuals

I mentioned some earlier, but now I'll delve into more detail about the colourful tools available, most of which I use and definitely find helpful. 

  • Coloured Overlays: Transparent sheets or overlays in various colours that can be placed over printed text to reduce glare and improve contrast. 
  • Tinted Lenses: Glasses or lenses with coloured filters that can be worn to modify the colour of the visual environment and reduce visual distortions. 
  • Colour-coded Highlighters: Highlighters in different colours can be used to colour-code text or notes, making it easier for dyslexic individuals to organise and prioritise information. 
  • Colour-coded Software: Some software programs offer colour customisation options for text and background colours, allowing individuals to adjust the visual appearance of digital text to suit their preferences. 
  • Colour Filters for Screens: Software applications or screen overlays that can apply colour filters to computer screens or electronic devices, reducing glare and visual stress.
  • Colour Stationery: From post-it notes to paper, pens and pencils. Dyslexic brains are grateful for anything colourful. 

These tools are designed to provide a more comfortable and accessible reading experience by adjusting the visual environment to better suit the needs of dyslexic brains. 


Key Tips and Takeaways 

Here are my key tips and takeaways, I would love to know what yours are – please do let me know,  

  • Experiment with Different Colours: Each individual may respond differently to various colours. Experiment with different overlays or tinted lenses to find the most effective solution. 

  • Use Colour Strategically: Implement colour-coded highlighters and software to help organise and prioritise information. 

  • Customise Digital Environments: Utilise software applications that allow for colour customisation of text and backgrounds to create a comfortable digital reading environment. 

  • Regularly Assess Comfort and Effectiveness: Continually assess the comfort and effectiveness of the chosen colour tools and make adjustments as needed. 


Discover Unique Strategies with Neurodiversity Coaching 

If you or your employees are experiencing challenges related to dyslexia, it may be time to explore unique strategies tailored specifically to your needs. As an experienced and qualified neurodiversity consultant, coach, and trainer, I can help you find personalised solutions that enhance reading fluency and overall productivity. 

I would love you to schedule a call with me today to discover how neurodiversity coaching can transform your productivity, performance and well-being experience and create a more inclusive and productive environment for all.