31 May 2019

Helping Students with Visual Impairments See Colors

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Douglas Balmer, Warwick High School

I have had some students in class have a hard time identifying colors (flame tests, solution color, acid-base indicators, etc.) because of a visual impairment. There are many cell-phone apps that are helpful in aiding these students. "Pixel Picker" allows the students to load a picture from a device (cell phone, ipad). This is helpful because students are now dealing with a "frozen" image. Moving the cross-hair to different parts of the picture changes the R-G-B values. The "Color Blind Pal" app uses a more qualitative approach. It names the color in the cross-hair using various color scales. There are also different options for different types of color blindness. 

Both of these apps are free and availble in the App Store.

Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to correctly identify an unknown metal by the color of its flame.

A student should be able to correctly identify the endpoint in a titration by the indicator's color change.

A student should be able to correctly describe the physical properties (color) of a sample.

A student should be able to correctly predict the visible absorbance spectrum of a solution based on correctly identifying the color of the solution.

Implementation Notes: 

Have the students with visual impairments practice using the app ahead of time to better prepare them to use the app for the first time in class/lab. Students would also need to understand the additive nature of light colors. For example, high R and G values will appear yellow/orange. I would give these students a 1-page handout for their lab notebook with the addative color wheel and various colored circles labeled with their names and RGB values so that students could practice and reference in the lab.

Our lab safety contract actually has students indicate whether they are color blind. This is a good time to introduce these students to the apps.

Time Required: 
15 min
Evaluation Methods: 

Do these students identify the same colors as the students without visual impairments?

Are their lab results correct? 

Evaluation Results: 

Students were able to accurately describe colors.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

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