Recently one of our student support teachers did some testing on the students who struggle with the demands of the secondary school curriculum. She was testing how different colour filters affect the ease with which these can read. There was an amazingly high percentage of these boys who suddenly realised that they were not seeing text as others did.
It made me think about how many students (we are a boy’s school) might be colour blind, to varying degrees, and they may not be aware of this. Research has shown that many more males are prone to colour blindness, especially red-green. I have also seen some research that states that women, as a whole, can differentiate between different shades of colours much better than men.
I like to use images and colour when I am presenting to classes. All sorts of information – be it graphical, maps, whatever – are in colour. How inclusive is this material? Are the colours I am using making it easier or more difficult for my students?
This led me to have a look at the tool Color Oracle, which is a color blindness simulator. It is a free, runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
When it is installed and you run it, a small icon installs itself on the menu bar. To see your screen the way that a color blind person would, you simply click on the icon and select one of three types of color blindness. You can easily toggle your screen colors to simulate three color blind conditions, deuteranopia, protanopia and tritanopia. By toggling between the various view modes, your screen is transformed to a new colour palette so you can evaluate how visible the colours you chosen are to everyone. Once you have done this it is a simple to click on any key to return to normal mode.
Will this make it easier for many of the students at my school? I don’t know but it can only help me make sure that the resources I create offer anyone the best chance of using them.