Some kids are the class clowns. Some are shy. Some like to answer questions, and some fall asleep. But each child is unique in their own way.
Students with color-blindness have a unique trait that might make it difficult for them to learn like their classmates. Here are a few things to consider implementing to help them learn best.
What is Color-Blindness?
Color blindness is caused by problems in the color-detecting nerve cells located in the back of the eye. As a result, some people have trouble telling the difference between red and green (the most common kind of color blindness) and between blue and yellow.
How Can I Help a Color-Blind Child in the Classroom?
- Write in black on a dry-erase whiteboard or use white chalk when writing on the chalkboard to maximize contrast
- Use white paper for all handouts – even if it requires you to photocopy material from textbooks and other educational material
- Label coloring/writing utensils and arts and crafts materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, sharpies, colored paper, etc.) with the name of the color
- Avoid color coding items like bar graphs or maps. If you do, write the color by the item.
- Work as a team – pair up students together or assist color-blind students on standardized tests
- Teach “sight colors” – teach color-blind students the colors of everyday common items (grass is green, bananas are yellow, etc. like you would teach “sight words”
- Educate all students on what color-blindness is and encourage kindness
How Can I Tell if a Child is Color-Blind?
A few common signs that a child is color-blind may include coloring objects in non-traditional colors, such as using an orange crayon to color a picture of an apple instead of a red crayon. They may also have trouble following color-coded directions. For example, they may struggle when you ask them to put on the green t-shirt or get out their blue folder. Similarly, they may have difficulty reading books or the whiteboard when the words are written in a specific color.
If you notice these signs in one of your students, encourage their parent/guardian to have their vision tested by an optometrist. There are color-blind tests available online, but we recommend getting a professional diagnosis.
What Can Color-Blind Children See?
Most color-deficient individuals can identify pure, primary colors. However, it’s the different shades and tints that they can’t differentiate between. Color-deficient children may consider red, orange, yellow and green all names for the same hue. Children could also believe the same about the colors: violet, lavender, purple and blue.
Some of the most commonly confused color combos are pink/gray, orange/red, white/green, green/brown, blue green/gray, green/yellow, brown/maroon and beige/green. Pastels and muted tones are also difficult to correctly identify.
Want to Learn More?
Here are a few examples of what color-blind people can see compared to those with normal vision. Keep in mind, everyone sees color a little differently, even people who aren’t color blind.
While most people with color blindness are born with it, sometimes it doesn’t show up until later in life; surprisingly enough, about 1 in 12 men are color blind.
For more information about color blindness, visit the National Eye Institute.
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