Don’t forget to visit our SHOP for stickers to label coloured items at home, or to buy self-labelled colouring pencils, 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 Special Educational Need, some schools might claim it may not fall within their definition of a Special Educational Need. However, the Secretary of State for Education (December 2014) stated
“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.”
So it may be a fight between parents and schools as to whether or not your child is entitled to additional support and resources.
If you discover that your child is colour blind try and obtain written evidence from the optometrist 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 their condition. You may have to remind new teachers at the start of each school year.
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 may feel at a disadvantage if you raise the issue. Sadly, we are well aware of many instances of hostile teachers 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. We can help by providing training for the school so ensure the headteacher is aware of this.
Read the information in the Teachers section so that you are aware of what to expect as your child moves through school. Download and print a copy of the Teachers factsheet relevant to your child’s age group and take it with you when you first raise the issue with the 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 which are marked with the names of the colours, but most of the Crayola 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 note colours names aren’t helpful to colour blind children 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. For external exams – GCSE’s, A Levels etc ensure that 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 be entitled to have someone to identify a colour, say of litmus paper or a chemical titration in their science exam, or to name colours in a geography paper, extra time will NOT help to identify colours (either you can see colour or you can’t) so extra time is needed for the invigilator is allowed to name colours so that your child can fully mark up the paper/resources. Schools are not allowed to mark up papers in advance.
Make sure you keep an eye on your child’s textbooks/online software and bear in mind that there is no obligation for textbook/producers of educational resources to consider the needs of colour blind children. Consequently the vast majority of educational resources will contain pages which colour blind students will have difficulty with. See WJEC/Eduqas guidance document for examples of challenges with resources 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: Why is colour blindness a problem 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 should 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.
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 Teachers section 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 with their child. This can be very hard to track down but it does pop up intermittently on BBC iPlayer (UK only).
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
- 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.
- need instructions which don’t rely on colour so try to think of other ways to explain, using descriptions which are not based solely on colour e.g. ‘over by the car parked behind the lorry’ not ‘over by the red car’.
Sports and other clubs
If your child is sporty also check out our #PrimaryColours page for more information including factsheets for parents and coaches. Although #PrimaryColours is specific to football, much of the information can be equally applied to other team sports. Refer your child’s coaches and PE teachers to this and also to our specific Sport section.
Don’t forget to let other clubs and organisations know about your child’s challenges with colour, especially Badgers/Cubs/Brownies etc. where may of the activities rely upon good colour vision.