Social Media
Charity No. 1144208

"Because special people need to be taught in a special way"

Visual Impairment

What is it?

The term visual impairment refers to someone who is blind or partially sighted. It does not refer to someone who is short-sighted (myopia) or long-sighted (hyperopia).
If you are visually impaired, you will have some loss of vision or some distortion to your vision. Depending on the severity of your sight loss or the degree of distortion, the conditions are usually referred to as partial sightedness or blindness.


Sight loss can be sudden and severe, or it can be a gradual deterioration over a long period of time. In most cases, sight loss occurs gradually with distant objects slowly becoming more difficult to distinguish.
As well as a reduction of vision, you may experience other symptoms such as:

  • Eye pain
  • A burning or gritty sensation in your eyes
  • A blurring or distortion of your vision
  • However, symptoms such as these are usually caused by specific eye-related problems, such as:

    glaucoma (a group of eye conditions that affect your vision)
    dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis)
    cataracts (where a cloudy area forms in the lens of the eye)
    macular degeneration (where your vision gradually begins to deteriorate over a long period of time)

    Parent’s tips

    Although colour blindness is a condition which is obviously a Special Educational Need, the current stance of the Government is that it does not fall within their definition of a Special Educational Need, the Government’s definition being too tightly drawn to allow for any support for colour blind pupils. Therefore colour blind children are at a disadvantage because in addition to there being no process in place to identify colour blind pupils when they start school, schools are under no legal obligation to take account of their needs either. Your child is therefore at the mercy of the school.
    If your child is found to be colour blind try and obtain written evidence from the optician 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.
    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, in writing including a specific request to the Head to ensure all teachers involved in your child’s education are aware of his condition.
    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 will feel at a disadvantage if you raise the issue. Some will be hostile to implementing 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/ madrasah so that you can be sure every teacher is fully aware of the needs of your child.

    Teacher’s tips

  • Lighting is important. Bright, low, inside or natural light can affect colour recognition.
  • The brighter the light the easier it is to recognize colour. Seat colour-blind children in good natural light and square on to the board but avoid glare.
  • Assign a classmate to help the child where coloured diagrams or pictures are being used
  • Check worksheets for colour issues and where possible use patterns or secondary indicators i.e. labels to differentiate, rather than colour.
  • Photocopy worksheets into black and white then recheck that the worksheet is still able to perform the task you require. However, depending upon the shade and brightness of the original colours, greyscale copies will not always solve the problems, therefore also check with the child that they can access all of the information required from the worksheet.
  • Use strong contrast on the board and on computer screens. Do not use red and green or pastel colours to highlight different teaching points.
  • Check computer settings, web pages and computer-based teaching aids with pupils to ensure the child can pick out all of the relevant information
  • Check the child has coloured pencils and paints etc marked with the colour of the pencil, but note some names like ‘vermillion’ do not give colour clues.
  • Look out for other children teasing colour blind children for using incorrect colours and ensure self-esteem issues are dealt with immediately
  • In games/PE check the child can see which children are in his team and also that he can see the ball e.g. red cricket balls and orange hockey balls are difficult to see against grass, particularly in poor light.
  • Do not use a ‘traffic light’ system for the child to indicate how difficult he thinks his task is, most colour blind children cannot be relied upon to know the difference between red, green and amber
  • ‘Audit’ your classroom, including computer-based interactive white board software packages, to ensure important messages for the children are not indicated in difficult colours, especially red.