Information and advice for teachers
This section is designed to provide information on the effects of colour blindness in school and is designed primarily for use by teachers.
Here is the statement from the former Minister for Education, Nicky Morgan – December 2014
“Schools and colleges must make reasonable adjustments where a child has an impairment or disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities.
A child with colour blindness may be considered to have a Special Educational Need, if it means they need additional support and resources from their school.”
As you’ll see from these pages, colour blind children will definitely need help to access many resources commonly used in schools. For detailed information on how to identify and support your colour blind students see our Resources for schools and teachers.
There are also several articles on colour blindness and education which have been published in various educational magazines. You can find a selection of these in the Press section of our website. For further playlist videos, TV coverage of our#1ineveryclassroom campaign see our YouTube Channel #1ineveryclassroom playlist.
Why is colour blindness a problem in education?
Colour is used extensively in classrooms and educational resources to provide contrast, create interest, for marking, as a means of classification, to highlight teaching points and to provide a stimulating environment. For the 450,000 or so colour blind children in UK schools today this creates many problems and can hinder their learning, solely because they aren’t able to distinguish accurately between many colours (not just reds and greens – that’s a myth)!
As most teachers have never been given any training in how to identify and support colour blind students, teachers may not be aware that statistically speaking, there will be at least one colour blind child in every (mixed, maintained sector) classroom and the proportion will be much higher in all-boys schools.
Children are no longer screened for colour blindness on school entry and our studies show that approximately 80% of colour blind students are undiagnosed when they enter secondary school (Year 7) despite 75% having had an eye test with an optometrist. We often find undiagnosed colour blind children who wear glasses. See British Journal of School Nursing Article May 2015.
The (former) ATL Union (now NEU) conducted a survey of its Members in 2015 and discovered a huge lack of knowledge amongst teachers. For this reason ATL voted at their Spring Conference 2015 to undertake more research into colour blindness in schools and to provide advice for Members. For more information on the ATL study see our Press Release
Since colour blind children often don’t receive the support they need in the classroom, from an early age and before they even begin to learn to read and write most feel inadequate, some lose confidence and struggle to cope, some are put off school and some become unwilling to learn and can develop into disruptive pupils. Dr John Barry of UCL has published research confirming the negative impact on wellbeing of people with colour blindness.
To compound problems online teaching resources, school textbooks and teaching aids like Numicon, Unifix and are not designed with colour blind students in mind.