A special message for colour blind children from Mike Blair. Mike is currently the Edinburgh rugby coach and is a retired International rugby (union) player, a former Captain of Scotland and British Lion
‘I have known about my colour blindness since I was in primary school and I have tried not to let it stop me from reaching my goals. I am proud that I have been able to Captain my country and there’s no reason why you can’t aim as high as me.
Sometimes it can be difficult to admit you can’t see something because of colour but it’s really important to try not to be embarrassed and to speak up if you are having difficulty in lessons or when you are playing sport. Teachers and coaches will want to help you to do your best. You can always speak to them quietly at the end of a session if you don’t want your friends to hear. There’s no reason why colour blindness should hold you back, so be like me and don’t let it stop you from achieving your dreams!’
If you want to hear Mike speak about the challenges he’s had as a player and coach, you can listen to him talking about this with another colour blind Scotland player, Chris Paterson, in a Scottish Rugby Podcast, at 36 minutes on the slider here.
You might be able to recognise some of the problems you have faced in school in our short video. There are plenty of children in your school who have the same issues as you and the children in our video.
So.. if you think you might be colour blind, don’t worry! If you are then you aren’t on your own. There’s probably another child in your class who is colour blind too. There will definitely be quite a few colour blind kids in your school. Just like you they might be embarrassed to tell people they are colour blind and that’s why you don’t know yet that they have exactly the same worries as you!
How Can You Tell If You’re Colour Blind?
There are lots of different signs that someone might be colour blind, but if you are these are some of the things that might happen to you:-
- your friends tease you if you make a mistake with colour, like if you are talking about cars and you get a colour wrong
- you sometimes have trouble understanding what your teacher means because you can’t see the colours he or she is talking about
- you can’t always tell what colour of pencil to use for colouring in, or what colour paint to use, or you might think you’ve used the right colour but someone tells you that you’ve got it wrong
- you might not be sure where a cricket ball is in the grass, or which coloured cones to run around in football training
- you might get teased because people say your clothes don’t match and you can’t understand why they say that
- you might have trouble telling the difference between two teams in a football or rugby match
- you aren’t sure what pale colours are and they look like white or grey to you
- you might not be able to play some sections of computer games
- your parents might get cross because you keep leaving your games console switched on, but you think you have turned it off (because you can’t tell the difference between the on and off lights)
- You probably try to find ways to hide from friends, family and teachers that you aren’t sure about colours because you feel embarrassed.
- You might worry that you are stupid because everyone, even little children, seem to know their colours but you aren’t always sure about them.
- Sometimes you might not like to try new food because it looks horrible.
- You might not like to play sport if the team kits are confusing because you are worried about passing the ball to the other side.
- You are probably often worried that the teacher might ask you to answer a question in front of the whole class that you might get wrong because of colours and you are frightened everyone will laugh at you because you can’t get colours right.
This is what worried Alex, who is 14
“At my school I think there aren’t many colour blind people and my school is not for colour blind people as in the main hall there are marked lines for PE and I can’t see them.”
This is what Alex said to us after he told us about his problems at school. We explained to Alex what he should try to do to make his life easier.
“Me again! My mum had a meeting with my head teacher so if you get a email from Miss R… from …….school this is my school! Thanks for all your help.”
Can’t you just tell from Alex’s second message how much happier he is since he has told his school he is having problems with colours?
If you want to feel happier like Alex, this is what you need to do
First – tell your parents and a friendly teacher that you think you might be colour blind. It might be hard to pluck up the courage at first but remember parents and teachers care about this – they don’t want you to struggle, they want to help you!
Next – find a few examples in your house or in school books and show your mum/dad/teacher what you are struggling with. Tell them what the problem is. They have probably never realised that you might be colour blind because you will have learnt lots of clever tricks to hide it from them. You can even use an app to help them see how you might see the colours. You could try the CV Simulator App .
Don’t be surprised if they might be shocked at first and try to convince you that you aren’t colour blind. If they do that, show them this website.
Most teachers don’t know anything about colour blindness so it might be up to you to explain to your teacher about the problems you have and how they can help you. This is easy because you just need to tell them to look at this website. You can also show them actual problems you have with your work using the App.
Once you have told your parents they will need to take you to an optometrist who can check if you are colour blind. All the optician will do is show you a book with coloured circles in. The circles have numbers in made out of other colours. Not all of the circles have numbers that everyone can see. The optometrist will be able to tell if you are colour blind by the numbers you can see in the circles.
What else can you do to make your life easier?
Colouring pencils, felt tips, paints etc
Ask you parents and teachers to make sure that anything you use for colouring with at home or school – felt tips, pencil crayons, paints and so on are labelled with the name of the colour so you can always be sure you are using the colour you want. Ideally you need your own set of marked up pencil crayons and felt-tips in your school pencil case with your name on. Try not to lend these to your friends as you don’t want to lose any!
Don’t be afraid of telling your friends and teachers that you are colour bind – most people find it interesting and will want to help you, but try not to get upset if they keep asking you what colour something is – if they do that just keep reminding them that ‘colour blind’ means you can’t always be sure of colours.
If you can’t always work out what the teacher is trying to teach you because of problems with colours, make sure you ask the teacher. If you don’t the only person missing out will be you so it is up to you to speak up, even if you feel embarrassed. You can always ask the teacher quietly at the end of the lesson if you don’t want the whole class to hear.
Some secondary schools let colour blind pupils use special Apps for ipads/iphones. There are some other resources on our Resources page for Teachers so you could have a look at these and also get your school to contact us if they want more information about these. None of the Resources are a complete fix though so you’ll still need to be aware that you might not be able to see information that your friends can see.
At long last makers of computer games have realised that plenty of their games are not easy for colour blind people to use. Before you buy a new game do some research and find out if it has a colour blind-friendly setting before you waste your money!