Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

What Do Elementary School Librarians Know and Believe about Students with Color Vision Deficiencies?

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

What Do Elementary School Librarians Know and Believe about Students with Color Vision Deficiencies?

Article excerpt

Introduction

We are surrounded by colour in the natural world and in the environment we create. Most educational spaces are filled with colour for many purposes. Sometimes the colour is decorative; sometimes the colour provides information. However, approximately eight percent of the male population in the United States has some form of colour vision deficiency. This means that in a classroom of 25 students, statistically there could be two students who cannot see all of the intricacies of colour in the classroom. There could be students who do not see the difference between the red label and the blue label on a book. There could be students who cannot tell where the yellow chalk line marks out-of-bounds on the grass ball field in physical education class. There could be students misunderstood by the teacher as not knowing basic information or accused of not paying attention.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore how elementary school librarians provide instruction and prepare the library environment to meet the needs of students with colour vision deficiencies. The research was designed to address the following questions:

1) What do elementary school librarians know about colour vision deficiencies?

2) What attitudes or understandings do elementary school librarians exhibit related to colour vision deficiencies?

3) What is the effect of participation in colour vision deficiency awareness research on elementary school librarians'':

a. knowledge of colour vision deficiencies;

b. attitudes or understandings of colour vision deficiencies and the needs of students with colour vision deficiencies;

c. behaviours related to the use of colour and the needs of students with colour vision deficiencies?

Review of the Literature

Colour Vision Deficiencies

Colour vision deficiency refers to the inability to discriminate between various colours (Neitz, & Neitz, 2000). Most commonly an inherited condition, colour vision deficiencies affect approximately eight percent of the male population and less than one percent of the female population (Cole, 2007; Jenny & Kelso, 2007; Neitz, Carroll & Neitz, 2001). While this may seem like a small percentage, the same amount of students with other disabilities would be cause for concern in the classroom. In fact, the rate of colour vision deficiencies is much higher than the rate of most identified disabilities, especially in boys (Centers for Disease Control, 2012; Pastor & Reuben, 2008; Boyle et al., 2011). Surveys confirm previous research findings indicating that boys are affected by colour vision deficiencies 13 times more than girls (National Center for Health Statistics, 1972).

Tofts (2007) referred to colour vision deficiency as a "hidden disability" similar to other conditions such as dyslexia. However, there is not a routine screening process in many schools, and Tofts stated that many teachers are not aware of the condition or how it can affect learning or future careers. Teachers do not consider the needs of students with colour vision deficiencies when planning instruction and creating teaching materials (Tofts, 2007). Litton (1979) recommended all learning-disabled students be screened for colour vision deficiencies so the teacher is able to adequately meet the needs of every learner.

Since so many primary school activities rely on colour, it is important for teachers and other school personnel to be aware of the difficulties colour may present for some students (Suero et al., 2004). However, many educators are not aware of the condition and how it may affect classroom performance (Gallo & Panza, 1998). As more print materials and instructional materials are available in full colour, the opportunity for confusion among students with colour vision deficiencies has increased (Cole, 2004). The current trend toward the use of computers and technology in the classroom provides another avenue for colour confusion (Cole, 2004). …

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