Conversations on Colorblindness

What follows is the text of message with Maureen L. who has a red-green colorblind son named John.

Maureen wrote -

I have read your entire web-site and found the information to be very informative. I have a son who has color deficiency. Red-green. He is 7. An issue that I do not see expressed in your website that I wondered if you may have additional information on is that of green chalkboards.

John started Kindergarten last year. in Kindergarten I told the teacher that he was colorblind. They do not use chalkboards in Kindergarten. They use flip charts.

John went to the first grade in Sept. of 2001. One month into first grade my husband & I attended openhouse. Johns project were not copied correctly. I made an appt. with the teacher to discuss this issue that was upsetting to my husband & I. She indicated that she did not realize that he had copied "from the board" incorrectly and apologized. End of meeting! My husband & I were not satisfied. We were concerned. So I scheduled another meeting with the teacher. During this particular meeting she recovered a piece of work form the daily garbage can from earlier in the day that my son had "goofed up on".

I asked her to see the work. When I looked at the work I asked her where did he copy this from. She responded from the board. She went on to indicate that after he messed up on the work she copied the information that was on the board to a separate sheet of paper and allowed him to copy it from his desk. She indicated that he had no problem copying that information....interesting I responded. I turned around took one look at the GREEN board and said..John is colorblind...he is not seeing anything that you are writing on the board...he is memorizing what you are writing and copying it by use of first grade "inventive spelling" that we are interpreting as him not being able to copy..he cannot see the off-white chalk on the green board. She was silent. When I went home after the meeting I asked John if he had any problem seeing the board, he responded that he had no problem seeing the board, although he could not make out anything that was written on the board! This had been going on since Sept 5 2001 thru Nov. 1 2001. He indicated that the initial information that was written on the clean board was so- so to see, although once that teacher erased the board, he could not make out anything!

Have your heard of this from anyone else? How many children are schools labeling as reading deficient, are really "color-deficient"?

We live in Pennsylvania and attend one of the best public schools in the state. They have no answers regarding this and are a bit taken aback by this information.


Maureen L.

Marty wrote -


I am sorry it took me so long to get back to you but I was away for a while. First, thank you for the kinds words. I try to make the site as informative and helpful as possible.

You bring up an interesting point. There are so many forms of colorblindness that it is difficult to cover them all. I do rely on people like yourself to provide new and added information. Although I never had problems with green boards, I usually sat close to the front of the room so it was easier to see. Inability to see "Green boards" may be more common that we know. Since I read your message I had occasion to do some local driving and I noticed that the local street and highway informational signs (street names, etc.) were all light green or off-white on a darker green background. I noticed that I have problems seeing those signs until I am really close. The problem is especially acute in the late afternoon, evening and night. I had attributed it to near sightedness (failing eyesight) but possibly it is also due in part to the red-green deficiency.

Colorblindness is a very common affliction but it is not well understood, even by those who have it. You really don't know that you aren't seeing the same things others see unless you are told. Even then, you may just be seeing something in a slightly different way (different color) than others. I for one can detect differences between colors but not what the colors are. Not every colorblind person sees the same colors in the same way. Also there are so many variations that there is no one color combination that can be seen by all colorblind people.

The only apparent remedy is to raise the awareness of the teaching and administration staff. Maybe you can ask them to experiment with different color chalks to see exactly what your son can and cannot see. You might also suggest a general test for colorblindness because it is highly probable that others are colorblind as well.

With your permission I would like to add this message to my site. I will withhold you email address.

Last updated January 8, 2002