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Color sensitivity and reading

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Screen colors and the contrast provided by various combinations of colors can improve visibility. Light colors on dark backgrounds or dark colors on light backgrounds provide the highest contrast. But there is no one color scheme that works best for all users.

White or yellow text on black or dark blue backgrounds are often preferred among people with low vision, since screens that are too bright can be uncomfortable to use.

Some people with learning disabilities (LD) may also have a problem with color sensitivity called Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (Irlen Syndrome). These individuals find that they are able to focus on words better when they are looking at a particular color.

To just get a quick idea of whether color may be a factor, try placing colored transparency sheets over a page. Once a color is identified that is easier to focus on, printed materials might be copied on to paper of that color. Reading guides that provide a color highlighting bar are also available. Some individuals use Irlen lenses, which are a particular type of special color-tinted glasses to help with reading, but which also require an assessment from a specially trained company representative. Finally, Window’s Accessibility Options allow users to adjust the computer monitor to their particular color scheme preference, including high contrast colors for the standard operating programs. People developing software, including websites, should avoid complicated backgrounds and keep a high contrast between the color of text and the background.