Bright Colored High Contrast Academic Materials

High Visibility Materials

UDL 1.1 UDL 1.3

Bright Colored High Contrast Materials are adjustments made to texts, materials, and the classroom environment that increases visibility between an object and its background for a student with vision loss (e.g., instead of black text on a white background, using colored text on black paper). Bright colors are used due to their ability to reflect light (e.g., red, yellow, orange, neon colors) and dark background colors are used to support depth perception. A teacher can offer a student a variety of Bright Colored High Contrast Materials to support focus and attention during reading (e.g., acetate filters, highlighters, reading strips, colorful sticky notes) and writing tasks (e.g., bold-line paper). These materials are also used to identify safety precautions (e.g., using bright colored tape to signify hot/cold faucet handles). This strategy allows a student with vision loss the ability to actively participate, making academic content and the classroom environment more accessible, while also helping the student build independence and maintain safety.

Implementation Tips

Preparing Bright Colored High Contrast Materials
Gather highlighters (e.g., yellow, lime green, hot pink), bright colored paper, colored sticky notes, and [[ | acetate filters ]] to support reading skills. To support writing with more contrast, prepare bold-line paper or print this [[ | free version ]] and gather black medium point felt tip pens, such as these [[ | 20/20 pens ]].
Offering Student Choice
Review IEP accommodations for a student with vision loss and use observations (e.g., if student begins squinting, rubbing eyes) to determine when to use the strategy. Confer with the student when initially offering high contrast options (e.g., acetate filters, reading strip) to see which vibrant colors the student prefers.
Introducing Bright Colored High Contrast Materials
Introduce high contrast materials to the whole class and explain how the use of bright color contrast can support anyone with recognition of objects and highlighting safety precautions by enhancing visibility (e.g., bright colored duct tape on hot/cold faucet handles, scissor grips, or to label the edge of steps).
Supporting Management Needs
Model how different Bright Colored High Contrast Materials can be used prior to having a student with vision loss use the tool independently. Specifically teach the student that the transparent color contrast of a reading strip must be on the line of print being read, as shown [[ | here ]], to make the text highly visible.
Building Student Independence
Encourage a student with vision loss to independently access Bright Colored High Contrast Materials throughout the school day. Keep highlighters, black medium point felt tip pens, colorful sticky notes, and bold-line paper accessible. Allow the student to keep a reading strip or acetate filter (e.g., inside desk, in book baggie).
Outfitting the Classroom
Mark areas to provide safety precautions and support depth perception (e.g., edge of a student’s desk or other tables) using fluorescent tape. Fluorescent tape can also be used to help students designate materials from one another, such as only putting fluorescent tape on scissor handles in a mixed table supply bin.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Modifications
Use alternate DIY modifications if pre-made reading strips are not available, such as cutting up colored transparent folders, similar to [[ | these ]], and gluing/taping black construction paper to the top and bottom, creating a highlighted window for heightened visibility to support a student while reading.
Bright Colored High Contrast Surfaces
Cover tabletop surfaces with solid black or brown material (e.g., butcher block paper used for bulletin boards, tablecloth) to provide a student with vision loss a workspace with added contrast. Tape down the sides of the covering material to avoid it from shifting under papers or notebooks.


Acetate Filters
After noticing that a student with vision loss is becoming increasingly frustrated during independent reading, a teacher offers the student an acetate filter to enable the student to view the text with heightened visibility. The teacher explains, “Using this colored filter will make the text “pop,” making it easier to read the words on the page.” Next, the teacher confers with the student to see which color filter is preferred. After picking a color (e.g., yellow), the student practices using the filter independently. At the end of independent reading, the student stores the filter in a reading folder to easily access it for continued future use.
Solid Fluorescent Tapes
To support a student with vision loss while navigating the classroom environment and to guide the student to distinguish items that are placed near other objects (e.g., frequently used supplies in a table bin), a teacher uses solid fluorescent tapes to create high contrast coloring. The teacher explains to the student that some of these markings are to signify significant spaces around the classroom (e.g., a personal cubby, student mailbox, designated closet space), while other markings are to help prevent injury or harm (e.g., table edges, scissor handles to indicate which end the student should grab them, hallway staircases).
Bold-Line Paper
After offering a student with vision loss an acetate filter for support while reading, a teacher recognizes that the student be provided with a High Contrast Material for support while writing. The teacher gives the student [[ | bold-line paper ]] to support the student in viewing writing contributions. The student is shown where these materials can be accessed daily (e.g., separate bin in the writing center) and is able to use them for all writing tasks, such as independent writing, note taking, and spelling tests. Bold-line paper also helps build student confidence due to the heightened visibility, widened line spacing, and lack of margins allowing for use of the whole line.
Projecting Presentations
While presenting text with grammatical errors on an electronic board (e.g., SMART Board, ENO Board) for the class to analyze, a teacher realizes that enlarged text might not be enough to support a student with vision loss while viewing the content. The teacher decides to enhance the visibility of the text using Bright Colored High Contrast modifications, such as changing the background color to gray instead of white, and changing the text font color to yellow instead of black (e.g., as reflected by the previous preferences of the student with vision loss). The teacher also turns off/dims the classroom lights since the e-board provides it's own illumination and to reduce any glare.

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