As parents, we have to understand that there are a variety of hurdles students face in school. One of these potential obstacles in the classroom is colour blindness. While it might not be as high-profile in the media as learning challenges such as autism or attention deficit disorder, colour blindness can be a problem that parents and teachers should be aware of. So today, we’ll discuss some ideas on how to help kids with colour blindness.
Why should we be concerned if our child is colour blind?
We often don’t notice it because we take it for granted, but colours are often a key tool used for learning in the classroom. Many images, notes and charts often have a colour key or use different shades of colour to demonstrate a lesson. For example, subjects such as biology can be quite reliant on using diagrams to communicate complex concepts. A task as simple as creating labels for a science project can become a daunting and complex exercise for someone who is colourblind. If children are following along with a set of colour-coded instructions, they can easily fall behind if they cannot differentiate between colours. That’s why it is often a good idea to lend an extra hand to kids with colour blindness.
It’s wise to receive training that will help you spot kids with colour blindness
That’s because you may be the only one on the lookout for this condition. According to colourblindawareness.org, most teachers do not receive any training to spot colour-blind students. In fact, the same article says it is probable at least one child per classroom in the United Kingdom is colourblind, averaging about 450,000 students in that country.
How to spot colour blindness in students
Try examining the areas in which your children might be struggling. For example, if you notice that one of your kids seems to always be behind in a class that is heavily reliant on visual learning, you may want to observe him or her more closely. As a quick side note, we’ve covered learning styles before in this blog, so you can check that out if you want to know exactly what we mean by visual learning.
Also, keep in mind that there are different types of colourblindness, which you should be familiar with. We suggest reading the above article to get familiar with the different ‘families’ of this condition which include — but may not be limited to — red-green colourblindness, blue-yellow colourblindness, and complete colourblindness. This knowledge will help you understand that depending on the colours being shown, your child may or may not exhibit signs of colourblindness.
There are also online tests which can help you figure what, if any, type of colourblindness your students may have. However, please keep in mind that these tools are not intended to replace professional advice from a family doctor or optometrist. If you suspect your child has this condition, do not diagnose him or her yourself. See a professional.
What are the next steps if your kids have colourblindness?
If you have children diagnosed with this condition, it would probably be best to consult with the school they are attending. For instance, on their website, the provincial government suggests asking teachers to seat students who are colourblind in glare-free spots in the classroom. Another idea suggested by the site is to use chalk that will ‘stand out’ better to a person with colour blindness. Perhaps most important is to realize that the difficulties that colourblind kids encounter can be alleviated by adapting their environments. For example, written instead of colour-coded labels would be of better use to a colourblind student.