Part of being a teacher is learning to accommodate each student to their needs as best as possible. This may mean having a variety of books at various reading levels, offering after-school tutoring hours for students struggling with a particular topic, or simply allowing near-sighted students to sit closer to the board. Yet one thing can be easy to miss when making your learning space approachable to every student: helping those with color blindness.
Color blindness is common, with one out of a dozen males and 1 out of 200 women affected it is likely you will have at least one student who may have some form of color deficiency in your class. While common, those with normal color vision may still find it challenging to fully understand the difficulty someone can have with color blindness. Younger students may especially have a more difficult time understanding and communicating how they see and what exactly they will need.
With something that can be hard to explain from a student’s perspective and difficult to understand from a typical color vision perspective, how can you make your classroom color blind friendly?
First, it’s good to have a basic understanding of what it really means to be color blind. A common question asked of most color blind individuals is if they see in black and white. While this is possible, it is by far the least common form of color-deficient sight. The most common forms of color blindness fall into two categories, red-green and green-blue. These have further specific diagnoses, but all similarly make some shades of color look like others and make colors look duller to varying degrees.?You may have seen some simple image comparisons of different color deficient visions, or even a dot test with hidden numbers or shapes inside. Trying a test out for yourself can give you a good insight on where your students may be finding difficulty.
Identifying a Color Blind Student
If you are teaching a younger class, you may encounter students who discovers their color-deficient vision during one of your lessons. Notice if they often ask for clarifications of the colored pencil they’re using or have consistent confusion reading a color key. Even though there may be little to no remedy for color blindness, apart from some color-correcting sunglasses, it can still be very helpful to alert the guardians of a student who is having some difficulty differentiating hues. An eye doctor can help determine the extent of their color blindness, which can make it easier from them to communicate their pain points more clearly.
Tips to Making Your Classroom Color Blind Friendly
The first and perhaps most helpful thing you can do is to label all drawing and writing utensils with their color. Dry erase markers that rely on the caps to distinguish color can have additional labels made with slips of paper or a simple piece of tape added to them. Even crayons and colored pencils that are labeled can be confusing for color blind individuals if the names are a bit more?creative?than others. If possible, stick to options that clearly state the color. “Robin Egg Blue” or “light blue” is better than just “Robin Egg.”
Replace Color with Patterns
When possible, it can be advantageous to everyone in the class to replace distinctions in color with differences in patterns. Distinguishing shades of markers on a whiteboard or matching multiple colors of a pie chart to a key can make the day less about the lesson and more about frustration for those with color blindness. Even direct labels pointing to something like sections of a graph can be easier to read than a key with several similar shades of color.
Contrast is Key
The use of color in a classroom can’t always be avoided; in many cases, color is a core component of the lesson. In these cases, choosing saturated and contrasting colors will make identifying colors much more accessible. Color blindness can make colors look duller than they actually are, so don’t just choose a red; choose a bright firetruck red or a bright sunshine yellow to contrast with a deep, bold blue.
Color blindness for a student can be frustrating, but making some simple adjustments in you class can ease a lot of the pain points they could experience in the classroom.
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