Older children will be less likely to make mistakes in choosing colours for themselves as they have had more time to learn the very subtle differences in shading which help them to identify different colours. They will also have had more time to hone coping techniques such as copying other children in colour situations. However, the older the child becomes the more they will be exposed to situations where they will be expected to interpret colour accurately, especially in school.

Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) students can sometimes appear slow, distracted or disruptive. This may be because they need extra time to process information. This can result in them missing some teaching points because they are still trying to understand the previous one. Also look out for:

  • Reluctance to speak in discussions where colour is a main element, such as maps in Geography and colour propaganda in History.
  • Holding back in sports when team colours clash or balls, beanbags, training cones, sports hall line markings ‘disappear’ against their background.
  • Unexpected poor results from students when using web-based homework programmes – MyMaths, BBC Bitesize and so on.
  • Presentation of work which seems ‘boring’ and lacking in colour formatting.
  • Inappropriate colour choices when completing worksheets, drawings and diagrams.
  • Inability to read litmus paper, universal indicator and colour changes in chemistry.
  • ‘Silly’ mistakes in geography, science, maths or history. These can be caused by poor colour choices used in textbooks.

Where you suspect a student might have problems with colour, ask the parents to ask an optician for a formal diagnosis. Follow the tips for younger children but also try to:

  • ‘Audit’ your classroom, including any computer-based interactive white board software package. Ensure important messages for the students are not given in ‘difficult colours’.
  • Ensure all pencils, crayons, paints, felt-tipped pens and so on are all labelled with the name of their colour. You can buy ready-made stickers from specialist suppliers or Colourblind Awareness. Use strong contrast on the board and on computer screens.
  • Underline the words you wish to emphasise. Do not use red, green, orange or pastel colours to highlight teaching points. 
  • Assign a classmate to help the student with coloured diagrams or pictures.
  • Encourage diagnosed colour blind students to identify where they might have problems. Ask them to let you know when they do.
  • Check worksheets for colour issues. Where possible, use patterns or secondary indicators such as labels, patterns and shading. Photocopy worksheets in black and white if this is not possible.
  • Avoid using a ‘traffic light’ system for marking (unless you use secondary indicators).
  • In games (PE) check the student is able to identify his teammates. If necessary, use blue and yellow bibs to distinguish between teams (red / green colour blind people can see blue and yellow).
  • Remember to check whether coloured training cones and bean bags can be seen against grass. Check that the pupil can see the ball (red cricket balls and orange hockey balls are difficult to see against grass, particularly in poor light) and so on.
  • Be aware that, because CVD is not considered to be a Special Educational Need, textbook manufacturers and producers of software don't take account of the needs of colour blind children.
  • For diagnosed Colour Vision Deficient students ensure your SENCO and all teaching colleagues are aware of potential problems. Ensure the student has an Individual Education Plan at the earliest opportunity.

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