Don’t forget to visit our SHOP for stickers to label coloured items at home, or to buy self-labelled colouring pencils/felt pens, crayons etc. Make sure your child’s teacher labels all the coloured items in the classroom too to ensure your child is not bewildered and embarrassed by not knowing, say, which coloured pencil he is supposed to use to colour in some of his work.
Although colour blindness is a condition which is obviously a Special Educational Need, the current stance of the English Government is that it does not fall within their definition of a Special Educational Need, the Government’s definition of disability being too tightly drawn to allow for any support for colour blind pupils.
This means colour blind children are usually at a disadvantage because not only are they usually undiagnosed when they arrive in prmary school but schools are under no legal obligation to take account of their needs either. Your child is therefore at the mercy of the school.
If you discover that your child is colour blind try and obtain written evidence from the optician which you can then copy to the school so that the information is held with your child’s records. Most opticians do not have advice sheets to give you but you can download information from this website under the Teachers section.
Make sure your child’s teacher and all the teachers involved in their education are aware that your child is colour blind and ensure the Headteacher is also aware, preferably in writing including a specific request to ensure all teachers involved in your child’s education are aware of his condition.
Whilst the overwhelming majority of teachers will be fantastic, be more than willing to help and be genuinely concerned to find the most effective way of educating your colour blind child – be prepared! Be aware that most teachers have never had any formal training or guidance about the best way to teach colour blind children and some will feel at a disadvantage if you raise the issue. Sadly we are well aware of many instances of hostile teachers who are unwilling to implement any changes in the classroom or on the sports field. If you are unfortunate enough to come across this attitude DO NOT be put off and make sure that every time your child moves to a new class or teacher you make a point of going into school so that you can be sure every teacher is fully aware of the needs of your child.
Download a copy of our Advice for Teachers factsheet and take it with you when you first go to see the teacher. Also make sure teachers are aware of this website should they need it for further reference.
Read the information in the Teachers section so that you are aware of what to espect as your child moves through school.
Buy your child a full set of colouring pencils for their own exclusive use at school (agree this with the teacher first) which are marked with the colour of the pencil. Crayola sell a few sets of colouring pencils/pens which are marked with the names of the colours, but most of the Crayloa range is unmarked. We supply a range of items via our SHOP, otherwise you can mark your own – use a white sticker to write on and be aware that some names of colours are not helpful to colour blind people e.g. maroon or vermillion, so choose names of colours which make more sense, such as bright red. Keep a similar set of marked crayons, paints, felt pens etc for your child to use at home.
At exam time make sure you check that the school has not forgotten that your child may need extra help (extra time will NOT help – either you can see a colour or you can’t) and ensure that for external exams, the examining body have been made aware of your child’s needs by the school well in advance. Ask for written evidence of this from the school and find out exactly how the school intends to help your child during the exam. Dyslexic children are often allowed a ‘reader’ and/or a ‘scribe’ to help them in their GCSE’s. Your child may need someone to identify a colour, say of litmus paper or a chemical titration in their science exam.
Make sure you keep an eye on your child’s textbooks and bear in mind that there is no obligation for textbook producers to consider the needs of colour blind children. Consequently the vast majority of textbooks will contain pages which colour blind students will have difficulty with. See Press: ‘The Unrecognised SEN’ for an example of problems with textbooks and what you and teachers can do to help alleviate them. Make sure your child lets you know when they have been unable to complete a task at school due to colour issues and try to give them the confidence to speak out in class and let their teachers know when they have a difficulty.
If your child is old enough show them our Colour Blind Kids page as they will gain confidence when they know they aren’t the only colour blind child in the school!
For further information about problems your child may encounter throughout their school life see the section: Problems Faced by Colour Blind Children in Education.
If you would like further help you can also contact the Specialist Teaching Services/Visual Impairment team at your Local Education Authority which will be able to undertake a formal diagnosis of your child in their school setting and follow this up with a report and advice sheets for teachers and parents. Teachers often refer suspected cases of colour blindness to their local Visual Impairment teams. There may be a charge to parents, especially if the child attends a private school.
First and foremost try to maintain a sense of humour with your child about their condition and help them not to feel embarrassed about it. Always laugh with them and never at them and remember that siblings can be particularly cruel.
Ask your child to let you know when they are having difficulties with colours at home. Read the Advice for Teachers download and apply the tips for teachers to your own home as far as possible.
Parents of pre-school children should try and watch Chuggington Episode 8 Series 2, Hoot vs Toot which is described in more detail on our Noticeboard.
Remember colour blind children really will find the appearance of some food repulsive and you may need to use other tactics to get them to try new food.
Your child may become frustrated with some computer games or board games due to colour problems. Don’t be angry with them for not switching off the games console – they may think they have! See how some computer games appear by following this link to a BBC feature about colour blind gamers.
Try and remember to consider any instructions you have given to your child and use descriptions which are not based solely on colour e.g. ‘over by the car parked behind the lorry’ not ‘over by the red car’.