See-N-Read
Learning Tools that Work
RESEARCH
 

Introduction

See-N-Read® Reading Tools (U.S. Patent No. 7,954,444) were designed and developed by Sylvia R. Smith, Ed.D. as practical interventions for struggling readers to support the essential visual and cognitive skills required for readers to more effectively receive, process and remember information. Dr. Smith’s conclusions are grounded in research in the areas of learning theory, reading, visual discrimination, ophthalmology and psychology and have been endorsed by researchers and practitioners in neuropsychology, psychology and learning.

The act of reading is a complex visual and cognitive task that requires the seamless integration of specific receiving, processing and memory skills. Poor integration of these skills negatively impacts reading fluency (the capacity to read text accurately and quickly) and reading comprehension. See-N-Read® tools are an assistive reading technology that enhances the efficient integration of receiving, processing and memory skills and therefore provides effective interventions for struggling readers.

See-N-Read® Reading Tools provide an assistive reading technology solution that improves readers’ fluency and comprehension by keeping their eyes focused on the line they are reading and filtering out surrounding distractions on the page. This controlled visibility enhances reading, thinking and learning skills and helps readers to more effectively track the text being read. Lack of controlled visibility results in such symptoms as word and line-skipping, pattern glare and letter reversal or switching (e.g., dyslexia).

An important factor in becoming a fluent and comprehensive reader is the ability to control one’s field of vision while reading. A critical component of this visual control involves efficient mental processing of “chunks” (five to nine units) of text as the reader’s eyes move left-to-right on a page. See-N-Read® enables readers to easily “chunk” text as they read through the clear reading window (referred to as the ReadBar™). The ReadBar™ helps a reader to concentrate his/her field of vision and smoothly track left-to-right as each line is read.

The clear ReadBar™ is a reading strip surrounded by a non-glare, tinted transparent area that allows visibility of upcoming information, enabling the reader to stay focused on the proper line of text while permitting peripheral vision to simultaneously track ahead to the next line. This reading strip allows readers an efficient and smooth transition from line to line, enabling continued ‘chunking’ as line changes occur. These smooth line-to-line transitions improve reading fluency and enable users to “read within the context”, thus improving reading comprehension, thinking and learning. In addition, the transparent shaded area above the clear ReadBar™ enables rereading of prior information without moving the See-N-Read®, helping the reader to keep his/her place (a common issue when attempting re-reading).

The color of See-N-Read’s transparent shaded areas is the result of research in ophthalmology that indicates this color is the least distracting for the most people.

Reader Survey Results: See-N-Read® Reading Tools’ research results show that 96% of readers liked using the tool and that 91% of readers felt that it helps them focus and concentrate because they did not lose their place on the page.

Research Overview

Reading involves the identification and localization of three key elements:

  • visual reference points for the lines involved in letter construction,
  • memory of what is seen, followed by
  • the association of meaning and language (Fowler, 2000).

Smooth eye movement is essential for becoming a successful reader. The control of saccades (a rapid movement of the eye as it changes focus while moving from one point to another; for example, while reading), smooth pursuit, fixation and convergence (a coming together from different directions) all play an important part in producing a stable image of the word on the page and enable smooth tracking of the eyes along a line of print. (Robinson 1981). Thus, the accurate control of both involuntary (jump) eye movements and smooth (continuous) eye movements are necessary for reading (Fowler, 2000).

The brain takes in and interprets information (words) at the moment when the reader’s eyes fixate on a word rather than during a saccadic movement. Uncontrolled, high amplitude/high frequency involuntary eye movements, or ‘overactive saccades’, appear to be a causal factor in word- and line-skipping. The understanding of the meaning of text initially relies on the brain’s pattern recognition process. If a reader’s eyes are erratically jumping from place to place on the page due to overactive saccades, three things can negatively impact cognitive processing: 1. the eyes may fixate on the wrong word(s), 2. the pattern of words is disrupted, and 3. the peripheral vision is unable to effectively predict upcoming text. In effect, the text becomes meaningless, thus reducing or eliminating both fluency and comprehension.

There are four issues that can impact the visual process when reading:

  • Pattern Glare. Refers to the illusions of color, shape and/or motion that a person may experience as part of their visual perception (readers say that “words appear to move on the page”). These symptoms can impact the ability to cope with black lines on white backgrounds (e.g., text on white paper). Sufferers have a range of symptoms including losing their place, headache, eyestrain and eye fatigue. Sufferers can be extremely sensitive and can experience great discomfort, thus reducing willingness to read.
  • Eye Dominance. Unstable eye dominance may cause loss of place (e.g., word- and line-skipping). Cross dominance may be a factor in mixing up letters (saw vs was) and letter reversals (e.g., dyslexia).
  • Visual Field and Peripheral Awareness. The peripheral vision surrounding the point of the eye’s fixation impacts how the reader integrates upcoming information with his/her central vision. In skilled readers, approximately 90% of saccades move the eye forward, with the remaining 10% moving the eye backward in the text (regression) either to resolve comprehension difficulty or resolve errors (Gaskell, M. and Altman, G., 2007, p. 327). The implication is that less skilled readers may spend an even greater percentage of time on regression, slowing them down and/or disrupting pattern recognition; i.e., reducing fluency and comprehension.
  • Visual Centering. Relating where the reader is in his/her visual space on the page with other objects. Smooth left to right eye movement and line transitions are enabled by efficient visual centering.

Further support for the integration of receiving, processing and remembering information gleaned from the written word or the “amount of information” received by the short-term memory is cited in the research by Dr. George A. Miller of Princeton University. In 1956, he published an article in “The Psychological Review” entitled, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. The focus of this article was exploration of the optimal “amount of information” that short-term memory could receive and effectively process at one time.

After analyzing a variety of experiments on the capacity of people to absorb information, Dr. Miller found that the “amount of information” or “variance” humans most successfully process is “seven, plus or minus two” or in other words, five to nine units, or “chunks,” of information at one time (Miller, 1956).
Therefore the length of the ReadBar™ in the See-N-Read® Reading Tools is based on Dr. Miller’s “seven, plus or minus two” findings in order to maximize a reader’s visual and cognitive processing.

The color (a blue/gray/mauve) and non-glare design elements of the See-N-Read® Reading Tools are based on research in the fields of Reading, Dyslexia, Visual and Cognitive Processing, and ophthalmology. Fowler, 2000, Iovino, Fletcher, Breitmeyer & Foorman, 1998; Wilkins, 1996 research discovered that individuals in their studies who were sensitive to glare or print against a light background when reading, more often chose a blue/mauve (end of the color spectrum) overlay to help them as they read. “Blue not only appears to reduce glare, but also the apparent motion of print.” (Fowler, 2000, Iovino, Fletcher, Breitmeyer & Foorman, 1998; Wilkins, 1996).

The findings of Fowler, Iovino, Fletcher, Breitmeyer & Foorman in 1998 were grounded in A.J Wilkins and I. Nimmo-Smith study conducted in 1984, on the reduction of eyestrain when reading. In their study they reported that “Some children and adults with or without reading problems complain of glare of the black print against the white background. Basically, the background appears to interfere with the print. They may see patterns in the gaps between lines and words, which can be distracting, can cause headache and migraines (sic). (Wilkins & Nimmo-Smith 1984)”

Conclusion

The See-N-Read® Reading Tools help improve fluency, comprehension, reading rate and accuracy by directly supporting the visual brain pathways (cortical brain center) in three key areas:

  • Gain control of the “field of vision” (a basic requirement for reading)
  • Smoothly and efficiently track left to right (an essential skill for fluency in reading)
  • Effectively use peripheral vision while reading to:
  • Accurately interpret contextual cues – improve inference skills
  • Better predict content as they read – improve comprehension skills
  • Re-read content for clarity without losing their place – improve regression skills

When readers improve reading fluency and learn how to increase reading comprehension, reading also becomes more fun! The joy of reading and the love of learning are tied to one another. Without strong reading skills, learning across all subject matter, even mathematics, becomes a struggle.

References

Fowler, S. (2000). Visual problems associated with reading and spelling Difficulty. Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (Information Sheet Number 5).

Gashell, M. & Altman, G. (2007). The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics. Oxford Press Inc., New York.

Knowler, E (1990) The role of visual and cognitive processes in the control of eye movements. In Knowler, E (ed) Eye Movements and their role in visual and cognitive process. 1-70 Amerstam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Miller, G. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychosocial Review.

Iovino, I., Fletcher, J.M., Breitmeyer, B.G. & Foorman, B.R., (1998). Colored overlays for visual perceptual deficits in children with reading disabilities and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Are they differentially effective? Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 1998, Vol. 20. No. 6, pp. 791-806.

Robinson, D.A (1981) Neurophysiology of eye movements. Annual review Neuroscience 4, 463-503.

Wilkins, A. (1996). Helping reading with colour. Dyslexia Review, 7(3), (1996).

Wilkins, A.J & Nimmo-Smith, I (1984) On the reduction of eyestrain when reading Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics (1) 53-59.


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