She helps you read through rose-coloured glasses ...

The Low Down to
Hull and Back

January 24th, 2002
Harry Hodge

Some people look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Adel Francis thinks they're onto a good thing.

The Cantley educator opened the Ottawa Irlen Centre in 1993, in aneffort to help people deal with reading difficulties. Irlen Syndrome is a disorder that affects reading and writing, and can often be found in combination with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyscaluculia. It also goes by the more clinical name Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome (SSS).

The name is derived from Educational Psychologist Helen Irlen, who worked with adult learners in California in the early 1980's. She found that some students were able to read more easily when coloured overlays were used on top of pages of normal script. The mentioned rose tints were effective, but different colours can be effective for different sufferers of the affliction. Symptoms can include slow reading, fatigue, strain and aninability to do sustained reading.

"It can affect your whole environment," Francis said. "Sometimes words could be jumbled, or the page can appear too bright."

Francis, married with four children, first learned about Irlen's theories after watching an episode of 60 Minutes, about an Ottawa family that visited a specialist in Boston and had some encouraging results.

Francis met with the Boston specialist, Georgianna Saba, and eventually trained with Irlen in Long Beach California to learn about the syndrome and how to screen individuals that could benefit from treatment. In the eight years she's been associated with Irlen, Francis has dealt with over 3,000 cases across Canada. One of the people who've benefited from special eyewear is Janet Madott, who was first diagnosed seven years ago with Irlen Syndrome at age 35. She says the new eyewear has changed her outlook on life.

"It improved everything," Madott recalls.

"I used to have to re-read things so many times." "I used to buy a book and put it down after 10 minutes and not know why."

While she had dropped out of school in the tenth grade, Madott credits her glasses for helping her to obtain a high school diploma and achieve a certificate of recognition for a business course at Heritage College in Hull. She now runs her own business, writing, illustrating and marketing children's books, and also works for the Bank of Canada. She wears the glasses almost all the time, as it enables her to drive with more confidence and focus her overall vision.

Screening for the special eyewear costs about $175, and candidates that can be treated pay to undergo further testing and then the costs of the lenses, which totals $695 after taxes.

Interested parties can reach Adel Francis at 1-819-827-5528 to set up an appointment, or email

The Irlen Institute can be reached toll-free at 1-800-93-IRLEN (934-7356).

Copyright “The Low Down to Hull and BAck NEWS”, Harry Hodge January 24th, 2002


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