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Color Vision Impaired Students . . . What Do We Do?



We have a color vision impaired student . . . I remember that came up once . . . What do we do?

-- Ms. Melissa B.

Dear Melissa,

But what if you have a student who has color vision impairment? --  a not so unusual trait in many people – teachers, too! This is a situation in which a student or teacher is unable to discern color? Once you discover those students in your classroom, or if you have this challenge as well, one way to solve this problem is to label each pen with its color: blue, red, green, or black.

Here’s an interesting story: I met a man who had CVI, color vision impairment, and when I told him that we labeled the pens with the colors, he told me that when he knows that the color is supposed to be blue, for example, “his brain registers blue, and the color blue actually appears.” I thought that was an amazing discovery.

Another way we help students solve this problem is to have them draw symbols in front of each sentence.

On your notes page in your guide, I’d like for you to find Topic Sentence, abbreviated as TS, and draw a star. The star is our symbol for topic sentence, and we ask our students with CVI to either use a labeled pen or draw a star in front of their topic sentence, or both.

For the Concrete Detail, pick up your red pen. The abbreviation is CD. You’ll create a red label for the students’ pens or ask the students to draw a rectangle that looks similar to a concrete block.

For the Commentary, pick up your green pen. The abbreviation is CM. You’ll create a green label for the students’ pens or ask the students to draw a circle in front of their CM sentences. We chose a circle because it symbolizes wholeness and completeness of thought.

And for the Concluding Sentence, abbreviated as CS, you’ll have the students use the blue pen again. I know you were about to pick up your black pen! No, we bookend the body paragraph with blue. For the CS, the symbol is a star plus an exclamation point. It reflects the topic sentence, hence the star. But it also has impact!

For the body paragraph, we use blue, red, and green. Black will come later.

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