"My confidence has grown to being able to read aloud more confidently in front of people."
Consultants from Crossbow Visual Stress Solutions are now working with a number of corporations, government agencies and emergency services including Santander, HSE, Staffordshire Fire Services and others. The format is straightforward: they present information on the research around visual stress and go through the assessment process using one of the delegates as a "guinea-pig". On practically every occasion the volunteer is amazed to find their own reading speed increased by 10, 15 or even 20% - and these are people who "didn't realise they had a problem"! The delegates then take away their own assessment packs (provided as part of the course package) and assess their own staff. One such delegate was Jo Hammersley, the Equality and Diversity Co Ordinator at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue HQ.
She sent us these reports from two of her staff:
"The (monitor) overlays have reduced my migraines and headaches and made working at the computer a much better experience for me. The paper (Crossbow's tinted A4 pads) has also been good and I use it in meetings where I need to take a lot of notes"
"The assessment was really good and gave me a clear opportunity to be able to show my struggles with the daily tasks of reading. I was given a lot of support and time deciding on the colour which best suited my needs. I was really happy with the outcome of the assessment - a great feeling of relief that the overlays made reading text so much easier. Using the overlay now makes the text much easier to read. It is really helpful and means my confidence has grown to being able to read aloud more confidently in front of people."
Increased reading comfort
Visual stress is most commonly associated with reading delays and difficulty, and consequently tends to have "special needs" connotations. But actually reading (and writing) through colour appears to be beneficial to most people. On a recent course with UNISON managers there were two speed readers among the delegates: one increased their reading speed from 178 words per minute to 192 wpm when using an aqua coloured overlay; the other from 169 wpm to 180 wpm. Charlie Ewer-Smith, clinical specialist OT at at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS foundation trust, said this:
"People living with persistent pain conditions often experience difficulty with visual stress. We are now using the Visual Stress Solutions assessment pack as part of our rehabilitation programme and people are amazed at the difference the overlays make to their comfort when reading."