By: Carmen Willings
Many students with low vision, or any usable vision, will need materials presented in high contrast in order to visually access them. It is usually best to present materials on backgrounds that offer high contrast to the objects being viewed. It can also be helpful to use trays to contain activities within view.
A dark blotter or dark piece of construction paper can be placed under a page to cut down on brightness and to direct attention. Different colors may be important for aesthetic or other reasons; but it is better to use such combinations only for larger or highlighted text, such as headlines and titles, and, where possible, to maintain as high a contrast of light and dark (as opposed to color) as is feasible.
Very high contrasts are difficult to achieve with color combinations other than black and white. Printed material, generally, is most readable in black and white. Text of printed materials should be printed with the highest possible contrast. Either use light (white or light yellow) letters on a dark (black) background or dark letters on a light background. This can be achieved using an electronic magnifier by reversing the polarity.
Highlighters & Line Guides
Highlighters, line guides, page markers and typoscope may be especially helpful to students who find it difficult to focus on a word or track a line of print.The typoscope blocks out the surrounding text allowing the student to focus on the important information. Using a line guide with a highlighter increases the contrast of the print.
Acetate or Color Filters
Acetate or color filters placed over the printed page will darken the print as well as heighten the contrast of the print with the background paper. It's usually preferred in yellow, but is available in other colors.
Bold Line Paper
For students who find it difficult to see the lines on regular writing paper, bold line paper is available in various formats, including graph paper, large-print staffs for music notation, and writing paper. This paper has dark lines and/or enlarged spaces for students who have difficulty using regular lined paper.
Felt Tip Pens
Allow student to use felt-tip pens (black or color) or 20/20 pens if the student needs a darker line and increased contrast. Usually preferred in black and available in various widths, these pens produce a bold letter or diagram. The use of different-colored markers will often help a student emphasize sections of his or her notes when scanning would otherwise be difficult. Similarly, allow the student to use a mechanical pencil as these pencils don’t become dull. A highlighting pen can be used to draw student’s attention to certain words and improve contrast between the print and the page.
Soft Lead Pencils
If the student needs to be able to erase, as most students will, the Faber-Castell #8B is a bold line pencil that does not run or smudge and provides a bold line. It has a soft lead that requires a gentle press to write. It can also be erased unlike markers.
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