How to Quickly Improve Visual Tracking for Struggling Readers

Posted by Erica Warren on

Many struggling readers face difficulties comprehending text due to issues such as losing their place on the page, struggling with tracking from one line to the next, and frequently re-reading the same lines. Skipping words or even missing entire lines of text is not uncommon. These challenges can significantly impact one's interest in books and have adverse effects on reading stamina, speed, and comprehension.

Improve Visual tracking for struggling readers

What is Visual Tracking?

Visual tracking is the ability to control the movement of vision with the eye muscles.  This may involve the eyes moving left, right, up, down, and even in a circular motion.  

How Do Visual Tracking Weaknesses Impact Reading?

Poor visual tracking can make it very difficult for individuals to read because their eyes struggle to maintain a fluid motion when scanning the words throughout the page.  Instead, they constantly lose their place.  

Why Do Struggling Readers Often Have Visual Tracking Problems?

There are two main reasons poor readers have difficulties with visual tracking:
  1. Some readers may simply have poor eye coordination, often referred to as a weakness in ocular motility or oculomotor functions. 
  2. Others may be constantly moving their eyes back and forth along the text because they are having difficulties decoding words, paying attention, or making sense of what they are reading. 
In these instances, eyes are straining and the reading process becomes frustrating and difficult.
tracking exercises

What Can Be Done to Improve Visual Tracking?

Exercises that strengthen eye tracking can be a game changer.  As little as three minutes a day and help to build this needed skill. Here is a resource that strengthens both tracking and peripheral vision to improved reading:
You can also strengthen this skill while reading by using text to speech apps like Voice Dream Reader and Speechify.  Although many text to speech apps do offer highlighted words that are synchronized with the speech, as well as text size and color adjustments, Voice Dream Reader and Speechify offer additional features such as distraction-free viewing and Pac-Man Mode.  

What is Distraction-free Viewing and Pac-Man mode on Voice Dream Reader?

  • Distraction-free viewing is enabled when pinching two fingers together on the screen.  This activates the viewing of only three lines of text at a time.  This can make it much easier to focus on one's place while still exercising visual tracking.  
  • Pac-Man Mode causes the words to disappear from the page a fraction of a second before they are spoken by the text-to-speech.  This forces the eyes to read in a fluid manner and can train the brain to move across the line and onto the next with no missed text.

Speechify also offers ways to view one or more words at a time.

"One Word View" is a reading pane view in the Speechify app that displays words one at a time, highlighting and vocalizing each word as it is read aloud. This feature is particularly helpful for students with tracking and reading issues because it addresses two key challenges they may face:

  1. Enhanced Focus: One Word View eliminates the need for the reader's eyes to track along lines of text, reducing the chances of losing their place or skipping words. This can greatly benefit individuals with conditions like dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, or visual tracking difficulties, as it simplifies the reading process and minimizes distractions.

  2. Auditory Reinforcement: By audibly vocalizing each word as it's displayed, this view provides an additional sensory channel for comprehension.  In addition, it also helps with the recognition of whole words.

    Click on the Video Below to Watch a Demonstration of Voice Dream Reader and Pac-Man Mode:

    Products to Purchase That Develop Visual Tracking and More:

    If you are looking for products that can improve tracking and other visual processing problems such as reversals, come learn more about Visual Processing Activities or the Reversing Reversals series. 
    visual reasoning

    reversing reversals
    I hope you found this blog helpful.  Reach out any time.

    Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren

    Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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