New feature: virtual coloured overlays

2 min read

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m one of the software developers here at DoodleMaths. 

One of my first tasks has been to create virtual coloured overlays for our apps. Coloured overlays (sheets of tinted, transparent plastic) placed over text have been shown to reduce the effects of visual stress for some people. 

They can improve reading speed and comprehension, and can help to create a more comfortable experience. So, we decided to create virtual versions of these overlays in our apps!

Who do they help?

Coloured overlays are a great way to help learners with visual stress. Visual stress is a condition that affects around 20% of people. It can cause physical discomfort whilst reading (headaches, migraines, tiredness) and words or letters may appear to move and become distorted. 

Due to this, children with visual stress may end up believing that reading ‘isn’t for them’, and they can become anxious and lose confidence in their abilities.

This is where coloured overlays come in. A study by Young Gun Jang for the Department of Computer and Information Engineering found that coloured overlays improved reading speed and durability. Similarly, Crossbow Education have concluded that a “significant proportion of the population would benefit from the use of a correctly selected overlay“. 

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How do I know if my child might benefit from an overlay? 

There are a number of external signs that may indicate that your child may benefit from using a coloured overlay. These include:

  • Your child becomes restless when reading
  • They frequently rub their eyes while reading
  • They experience headaches when reading
  • They have low self-esteem in their reading abilities 

If your child shows any of the above behaviours, ask them if letters appear to move around or stay still when they read, if letters appear blurry, or if their eyes hurt when they’re reading. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you could consider using a coloured overlay. 

How can I use coloured overlays in Doodle?

To change the colour overlay in our programmes, log in to any of our apps and visit My Pages. Here, children can choose to change their pet or their overlay colour. 

There are ten colours to choose from, all of which are designed to match those used by physical overlays. If your child isn’t sure which colour to use, research shows that each learner is different, with some colours being more effective than others. It can be a case of trial and error, so encourage your child to try them all to find which works best for them! 

The overlay will only be displayed on pages that children have access to, and can be changed at any time. Watch our handy video to see how to change your overlay colour.

Article by Sarah Canniffe

Doodle empowers learners to achieve confidence in maths and English. Our intelligent technology creates individual work programmes which are motivational, affordable and convenient to use.