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How to help children with colour blindness (colour vision deficiency)

What is colour blindness (colour vision deficiency)?

Colour blindness (colour vision deficiency) is a condition in which certain colours cannot be distinguished. It is usually an inherited condition affecting males more often than females. There are many different degrees and types of colour blindness, the most common being red/green colour blindness. Total colour blindness (seeing only in shades of grey) is extremely rare.

How is colour blindness (colour vision deficiency) diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made through clinical testing (Ishihara Colour Test, Waggoner Colour Vision Testing made Easy).


How can we help children with colour blindness (colour vision deficiency) in school?

Certain strategies can be helpful in schools.

EY and KS1

  • provide sorting materials that have additional information, e.g. shape, size, texture, pattern

  • link colour names to common objects – yellow bananas, blue sky

  • label crayons, pens, paints with words or symbols

  • let children try out scented pens to help discriminate colours

  • avoid red / green educational materials.


  • avoid using print on coloured backgrounds

  • make sure materials are clearly contrasting

  • use dark marker pens on the whiteboard

  • provide help with map work, particularly with the colour coding.

KS3 / KS4

For science help may be needed with:

  • using test strips for soil/water PH

  • interpreting some chemical reactions

  • litmus paper turning red

  • colour of flames (blue / purple).


  • bi-colour and tri-colour LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) –  red, yellow or green indicator lights

  • colour is often used for community safety information (red - danger, amber - stop, blue - caution, green – safety)

  • ensure hazard symbols are well known by their picture/symbol rather than colour.

Food technology and hygiene:

  • the appearance of food can be affected. Food may look unappetizing and it can be hard to see if meat is cooked or raw.


Colours of the rainbow - normal colour vision

Is there any treatment for colour blindness (colour vision deficiency)?

There is no treatment for colour blindness (colour vision deficiency), nor is it usually the cause of any significant disability. However, it can be frustrating for individuals affected by it. Being colour blind can also prevent people from performing certain jobs.

Further information

Further help and advice is available from the Specialist Support Service Visual Impairment Team.


Staffordshire Place 2,
Tipping Street
ST16 2DH

Phone: (01785) 356830
Minicom: (01785) 356835
Fax: (01785) 356841
Email: sss.service@staffordshire.gov.uk

If you, or someone you know, would like a copy of this in large print, braille, an audio tape or in languages other than English, please contact the Visual Impairment Team on 01785 356830.


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