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Overlays: The Science Behind ER Browser

Introduction

Colour overlay testing is a standard, widely accepted way of assisting those with some conditions known to impair reading ability. Placing coloured sheets of plastic over reading material and even opticians prescribing coloured lenses has been proven to improve the reading ability of, and understanding for those with dyslexia or Meares Irlen syndrome (sometimes called Visual Stress).

The Science of Overlays

The British Dyslexia Association has suggested that ten percent (10%) of the British population are dyslexic; 4% severely so, so it comes as no surprise that considerable research has gone into ways to alleviate the symptoms that some dyslexic sufferers are faced with.

One of the arms of research concern the use of coloured backgrounds and different coloured text. Coloured sheets of plastic (overlays) have been used over a white page of text to test against. Coloured overlays have been shown to reduce visual stress and increase reading speed by more than 25% in 5% of a particular test group of school children.

Overlays can reduce fatigue and increase reading speed in at least 5% of the school population; a new test of reading, the Rate of Reading Test, helps with the assessment of overlays; overlay choice is not simply due to suggestibility or motivation; reading rate versus reading skill; the design of text in children’s books is suboptimal.
Reading through Colour, by Arnold Wilkins, University of Essex

The ER Browser

The ER Browser allows you to emulate the colour overlay tests by instantly converting any web page to a standard, coloured output. We’ve spoken with leading researchers in the field of visual stress and as a result, have been able to build a theme engine based on best practice for improving reading ability.

We’ve done what we can to provide a broad enough amount of font and font modification choices as well as colour ranges to cater for as many people as possible, if however you feel we should add another theme or range of colours, or indeed, if you have any suggestions about how we can improve your web browsing experience, please click the App Support button in the right sidebar and we’ll do everything in our power to help.

The ER Browser can be used to improve the users’ reading ability on any website