Reading Rulers

As summer begins, you might be getting started on your reading for next semester (or equally you may be basking in the sun in some tropical location- you do you!), and many students with SpLDs find reading a huge challenge. Reading rulers are one simple but very effective piece of assistive technology that are easily accessible and customisable.

Who might this software be useful for?: Anyone who struggles keeping their place while reading large chunks of text, students with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or Irlen Syndrome (visual stress) might find these pieces of software especially useful.

What study skills challenges can this app help you overcome?: Difficulty concentrating on large chunks of text, words hopping about on the page, slow or inefficient reading.

What is the tool or study skills strategy?: Virtual reading rulers and banded screen overlays to help you follow the text.

screen shot of vu-bar reading ruler over text


Free. Available from AT Memory Stick,

  • Virtual reading ruler
  • Blocks out surrounding text
  • Width adjustable to percentages of the screen between 25% to 100%
  • Height adjustable to suit different text sizes or if you like to read more than one line of text inside the bar at one time.
  • Lock to pointer so when you move the mouse the ruler moves with you.
  • Colour adjustable- 48 different colours available. Above you can see that Vu-Bar is grey, below it is black. Some people prefer different colours and contrasts to assist with their reading and combat visual stress, so it is worth experimenting with these!
  • Best used in conjunction with screen tinting software if you require colour overlays as well as a reading ruler (I don’t recommend combining Vu-Bar with T-Bar or other tinting software that acts as a pop up if you expect to want to move them around as you would have to drag both boxes around the screen. You could do this however if you wanted to layer the two over a body of text and then scroll down to read.)

screen shot of vu bar in black over some text


  • Comes in the form of a customisable task-bar
  • Offers highly customisable screen tinting
  • Customisable reading rulers

Read and Write can be funded through DSA. If you are not eligible for DSA please speak to your Disability Adviser about funding options.  A Free trial of Read and Write is available from Texthelp. If you are not eligible for DSA (for example you are nearing the end of your course) there may be the option for the university to buy a copy for you- to find out more about this please contact your disability advisor or DDSS.

To open the Screen tinting/ Reading ruler function press ‘Screen Masking’. My Version looks like this :screen shot of screen masking drop down menu. The options read 'screen masking options...' and 'watch screen masking video tour...'

Then go into Screen Masking options…

screen shot of screen masking options, display tab. On the drop down bar for 'select masking type' the option 'underline my mouse pointer' is highlighted in blue. Below that are options for opacity and thickness of tints and underlines.

…And select from the options below. I personally like to tint the whole screen to a darker colour and then spotlight in a lighter colour that follows my mouse as I move down the page.

The colour I chose to follow my mouse corresponds quite closely to the colour I was prescribed during my colorimetry testing (if you haven’t had this testing, you can just use the colour you find most helpful with overlays/tinting software). I chose the darker colour to reduce glare from the rest of the screen to help prevent headaches and eye strain from scanning large chunks of text.

To do this I select ‘Underline my mouse pointer’ Like this…

screen shot of screen tinted pink with a horizontal strip of light orange three lines of text thick covering the width of the screen.

You can edit the colour, height and delay time (how quickly it follows your mouse) of this spotlight. You can watch the in-built ‘screen masking video tour’ if you’re struggling with this or visit the Wyvern Training Portal (mentioned below). To turn this feature off just press the Screen Masking icon on the Read + Write toolbar again. Done!

To get hold of an AT Memory Stick from UoS Disability Service contact DDSS.

Thanks for reading,