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Activity and strategy

Using Color to Support Students with CVI

The strong attraction to color can be used to support students with CVI, by helping to focus their attention on pertinent visual information.

According to Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy, there are ten characteristic behaviors that have been identified that consistently pertain to children who have CVI (cortical visual impairment).  One of the characteristics is an unusual attention to color and children with CVI are often strongly drawn to things that have highly saturated color. Red and yellow are the most common colors that people report.

This strong attraction to color can be used to support students with CVI, by helping to focus their attention on pertinent visual information.  There are four examples below that show some of the ways in which color can be used to support these individuals.

Following a Recipe

This is an example of using color to support a student’s ability to follow cooking instructions in a left-to-right sequence. This was created for a particular student who loves cars, so we tell him, “Start at the green light and find the first ‘car,’ and keep driving until you get to the red light.” 

Color-supported cooking instructions: The image shows a green dot on the left, followed by a photo of a measuring cup, a stick of butter, a carton of milk, and a red dot on the right.
Color-supported cooking instructions

Setting Up a Daily Schedule

This same student benefits from similar color coding when setting up his daily schedule. He started off with just a black board and was expected to place each schedule picture in the correct order. However, he had difficulty organizing the space visually and usually placed the pictures out of order and often overlapping with each other.  We then added the green and red dots and asked him to pretend each schedule picture was a race car.  We told him that he needed to start at the “green light” and “drive” the car to the first empty parking space (represented by the yellow boxes). With this color-based strategy in place, he can now set up his schedule independently each morning. 

Color supported calendar for CVI
Color-supported calendar for student with CVI

Color-Coded Musical Score

This drummer learned to color-code her own sheet music, so that she could keep track of quarter notes and half notes and see where one measure ended and a new one began. 

Color supported musical score
Musical score: “Listen to the CD and Play” with colored notes and bars.

Math Worksheet

Color coding on this math worksheet helped this child manage the complex array of information and keep track of which variables in the equation coincided with which dimensions on the trapezoid. 

Trapezoid worksheet with color support
Math worksheet with color-coded numbers and elements
Collage of using color to support students with CVI
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