At school: Extra Accommodations

Note: Printer Friendliness

The list below sounds a bit stuffy. But if you have Irlen syndrome and you're trying to get accommodations at work or at school, it could be helpful to print this page and show it to your teacher, your school's IEP (Individualized Education Plan) coordinator, or anyone who can make your life easier.

Click here for a pretty, printer-friendly version of this page (without this note).

Students with Irlen Syndrome are sensitive to aspects of light such as brightness and glare on a white page of text or figures. These students may experience reading problems because of blurred or distorted print, a reduced span of letters seen clearly at one time and/or difficulty remaining focused on the white page. Or students may experience headaches, eyestrain, extreme fatigue or other symptoms. Below are reasonable accommodations that help many students with Irlen Syndrome. Fewer or additional accommodations might be necessary depending on individual needs.

Lighting
Indirect natural light or incandescent light is best. Reduce fluorescent lighting by turning off some lights or putting in some burned-out tubes. If you have enough natural lighting, don’t turn on lights. While natural indirect lighting is helpful, students with Irlen Syndrome should not have to face the window in classrooms or face the sun on the playground.

Colored overlays
A certified Irlen screener or diagnostician can help each student find one or more colored filters (overlays) that relieves symptoms. Encourage/remind students to use their colored overlay(s) in all subject areas, including math. Ensure that reading is tested using the student's preferred overlay color(s). (The wrong color overlay can be worse than no overlay.)

Colored paper for reading
Worksheets/Tests/Math sheets/Information sheets should be printed on colored paper, if possible the color of the student
s preference (blue/green/yellow/pink, etc.). The incorrect color may cause similar problems to white. Recycled paper is better than white. (Ink color can also make a difference.)

Colored paper for writing
For students with handwriting problems, allow as much work as possible to be done on colored paper… a color of the child's own preference or a gray or beige.

Hats or visors
Let students who have Irlen Syndrome wear visors or hats with dark underbrims in the classroom and on the playground. This reduces glare and reduces symptoms. Visors/hats also help with glare in stores and shopping malls. (Even in schools with a no-hat policy, students with a medical reason can wear hats. A doctor's note may be needed.)

Book position
Reading should be done from materials placed directly in front of the student. Students should not attempt to “share” reading material. A bookstand can help with glare.

Overhead projectors
Limit the amount of work done using an overhead projector. The intense lighting may cause real discomfort. Or place a colored overlay on the projector.

Chalkboards and white boards
Write in columns rather than across the chalkboard. Write each paragraph in a different color to help with tracking. Whenever possible, do not use white boards. The “white boards” are available in tan or gray, which are much easier for readability.

Copying
Allow students to copy from paper to paper (rather than copying from chalkboard to paper or overhead screen to paper). If necessary, allow stude to copy what has already been copied from the board or screen by another student

Markers
Encourage student to use a ruler or bookmark to improve accuracy and speed. Some students become more efficient readers by using markers under the line, others by using a marker on top of the line, others by using the marker after the word being read to block off the rest of the sentence. The color of the marker should be the same color as the plastic overlay.

Other possible accommodations
Students who have problems with computer answer sheets can be allowed to answer on the question sheet and have a scribe transfer their answers to the computer sheet.

Breaks while reading, writing or doing other visually intensive tasks.

Books on tape.
People who have reading disabilities may qualify for books from National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Disabled.
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