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Contrast Aids


Contrast aids provide visual contrast between text and white or light backgrounds.

Common contrast aids include colored overlays/filters, highlighter tape, colored light bulbs, and choosing appropriate background and text colors when using the computer for reading and writing tasks. Colored filters or overlays are available in many different colors and sizes. Colored light bulbs are also available commercially (they are sometime called party lights). Some students use these lights in study lamps. Most word processing programs, text reading software, and other computer based reading aids provide the option of changing font and background colors. Students are often better able to focus and attend to text that is presented to them on the computer by choosing background and font colors that make their eyes ‘feel comfortable’.

Colored overlays are available from See it Right and the National Reading Styles Institute. Highlighting tape can be found at office supply stores and many online school supply sources. The Reading Helpers and EZC Readers mentioned on the Tracking Aids page as considered contrast aids as well as tracking aids.

Contrast aids can be beneficial for students who have difficulty reading and processing text displayed on the page due to visual distortions or discomfort. Students who report that text is fuzzy, don't appear to notice space between letters or words, have difficulty copying, or exhibit fatigue or discomfort (rubbing eyes, fidgeting) when reading may benefit from the use of contrast aids.

Choosing to write on different colors of paper or choosing different colors for background and font when completing the writing process on the computer can be beneficial for students who exhibit writing difficulties. Using different colored overlays on the text that these students are copying from will also help them be able to see the text that they are copying clearly.


 Resource Name

Web Address

National Reading Styles Institute

Go to Reduce Dyslexia

The Irlen Institute

Go to View Sample Distortions

Reading by the Colors by Helen Irlen

See It Right

Go to Research



 Vendor Name

Web Address

See It Right

National Reading Styles Institute (NRSI)

Highlighting Tape (Chrystal Springs Books)