In pre-school and primary school a child may be bewildered by colour references but find it difficult to explain what the problem is or be reluctant to do so. For example some reading schemes use coloured text to indicate differences in the spelling of similar sounds e.g. the ‘ough’ in bough and the ‘ow’ in cow would share the same colour but be different to the ‘ough’ in cough. These schemes should be reprinted using italics or capital letters or bold print to highlight differences, rather than in different colours.
Primary school teachers regularly use the ‘traffic light’ system to help them understand how difficult their pupils find different worksheets. This system requires the child to mark the sheet green for easy, orange for manageable and red for difficult. A colour blind child will not know the difference between these three colours unless he asks for confirmation from someone else. Most children will not want to draw attention to themselves, so if they do not have the correct colour marked on their pencil they will guess. This problem could easily be rectified by ensuring all pencils/crayons in classrooms are marked with the name of the colour, or the colour blind pupil has a set of marked pencils for their own exclusive use.
Large numbers of books aimed at young children use colour-on-colour printing which is often difficult to read because of poor contrast or impossible to read because of the colour combinations used, such as red writing on a green background or a poem written in purple on a pale blue page. These books should not be presented to colour blind children.
Threading beads in a specific order, stringing wool in a specific design, counting or sorting different coloured wooden blocks and following coloured patterns can be difficult or impossible for a colour blind child.
Problems also arise from the way information is written on the whiteboard/ interactive white board when teachers use different colours to highlight different messages, so teachers should not use red to highlight one teaching point and green to highlight another as to the colour blind child both colours can appear to be the same.
Pre-school teachers and infant teachers may want to take a look at the Chuggington episode detailed in our Noticeboard section which is good at demonstrating to colour blind children, their siblings and peers the problems of being colour blind.