Implementation of ‘Colour-Blind Women’ (SOI-DI-214)


Hi, I am Lisa Pace and I am a teacher in a school in Malta. I implemented this learning scenario with grade 5 girls (9/10 years of age) over 4 lessons that lasted 1 hour each. I chose the ‘Colour-blind Women’ Learning Scenario by Aaron Bernardez.

The reason I chose this learning scenarios is that it focuses on 2 topics that can be expressed and understood through the subject I teach, the Visual Arts: Gender Equality and People with Disabilities.

The school I teach at is an all girl’s school. So for the month March, Women’s History Month, I deemed this subject would be extremely fitting to remember the women that fought for the rights we have today. This lesson also served well to highlight the role of women throughout history.  

This lesson also served as a brilliant way to raise awareness on colour-blindness, a special condition, considered as a disability that none of my students were aware of. In turn this acted as a scaffolding for children to develop their empathy skills.

The Visual Arts aims and objectives I covered in this Learning Scenario were to:

  • Understand the colour wheel including primary, secondary and tertiary colours;
  • Learn the difference between shades, tints and hues;
  • Mixing Water colour paint;
  • Principles of Letter Design;
  • Expression through visual representation;
  • Tackling real-life issues through the Visual Arts; and
  • Art Criticism and Appreciation.
A snapshot from the Implementation

Lesson 1

First, the students were shown a few images from this LS as an overview of what they will be learning and participating in. The first lesson was an introduction to this project. This included an explanation of the LS’s title.

Instead of providing them with the answer/definition, students discussed what they thought this title refers to and if they knew anybody who is challenged with colour blindness. We found out that one of the teachers in class and a parent of a student actually suffered from this impairment which got us thinking about the title of this LS. While indeed this title is effective as it raises curiosity, we decided to call our task ‘Colour Blindness’. As the condition does not define the person, we wanted to avoid labelling.

During this, I showed students a video about colour eye blindness as I feel visuals work more with this particular class. 

Then, using visuals, students were shown a chart/colour wheel so that they can understand how colour is translated to grasp a better understanding of how a person with this condition sees the world. After the explanation students were given a task so as to assess their learning.

Task for Lesson 1

Students were asked to design a Poster to raise awareness about Colour Blindness. They were asked to include visual representations as well as examples of how the life of a person with colour blindness is affected by this special need/impairment.

Task for Lesson 1

Through this exercise, students developed empathy, tolerance and inclusivity.  They became aware of so many difficulties people with this disability can face and how it must make them feel.

Furthermore, they practised their art by creating a Letter Design. I added another task for the title page which was optional, where students could colour in the word ‘colour’ with any colours they like and the word ‘Blindness’ with the only colour that is perceivable to people with colour eye blindness.

Students were engaged and very interested in this lesson. The results were great and they finished the rest of the artwork at home. I ended the lesson with a beautiful video about a student with colour eye blindness who was given a pair of glasses that enhances colour. For the first time in his life, this boy saw colour the way others do this. This evoked a powerful response from all students and educators present, including myself.  Some students commented about how important it is to appreciate the sense of sight while another said that even though we are all different, we have the technology to help us understand each other.

Lesson 2

Lesson 2 was intentionally planned to fall on Women’s Day. As an introduction to this lesson, I added this section to the LS. Students were asked to discuss the following questions in pairs and later as a class discussion:

  • Why do we celebrate Women’s History Month?
  • What are equal rights?
  • Name an example of a right.
  • Name a woman who inspires you.

Students were shown this video about Women’s Suffrage, as preparation for the 3 chosen illustrations from the Europeana Colouring Book. Before showing students what they were going to colour, we discussed why women had to protest and fight for the rights we have today. Students were shown parts of the Europeana Colouring Book.

Using the Europeana Colouring Book

I suggest you go through this before the lesson and only pick the images you seem appropriate for the lesson. My students are 9 to 10 years old so I left out certain pictures that could be inappropriate for their age.  Furthermore, another tip I would give teachers before using the Europeana Colouring Book is preparation. Take note of the words written on the pages as the ones I chose were written in Dutch. I had made translations of these phrases before the lesson as I knew my curious students will ask me what they mean. Once the students understood the meaning behind each of the 3 pictures they were given a task. Students really liked the Europeana Colouring Book illustrations.

Task for Lesson 2

The task for this lesson is to paint the image using watercolour techniques that we had been practising over the term. The girls were told that they can use any colours they want for this task.

Using watercolours for the Europeana Colouring Book

One of the problems I faced when choosing which pictures to use from the colouring book is that they are not all line drawings. This posed a problem because students were not able to colour in probably since there is grey shading. I asked students to try their best to paint over these areas.

Once students were ready their works were left to dry.

Lesson 3

During Lesson 3 students revised the colour wheel. We discussed colour schemes and elements of colour such as tints, shades, tones, primary colours secondary colours and tertiary colours. We also looked at the suggested ColorADD Code for colour blind people by Miguel Neiva as suggested in the LS. Although very interesting, this part of the LS was rather difficult for most students. I think my students were too young to understand this section properly. Furthermore, they were just starting to understand the translations of the actual colour schemes. Therefore, I eliminated this section that asks students to add the ColorADD code to their images for them to feel less overwhelmed. This way students focussed solely on how people with colour eye blindness perceive colour.

Task for Lesson 3

During this lesson, students placed their painting from the previous lesson on their desk. They were given a photocopy of the blank colouring page they chose from the week before. Their aim was to reproduce the painting they made but this time only using colours that can be seen by a person with colour eye blindness. For this, I suggest pining the following image to the board throughout the lesson as students found it very helpful.  Using such images provided references for the students to learn the colour code.

Reproducing the painting

Most students successfully managed to translate these colours. Something that aided the students is writing a list of colours they should not use on the board. The fact that they could only use shades of greens, yellows, greys and blues proposed a great opportunity for students to mix paint on their palettes and create a variety of hues.

I would suggest dedicating some time of the lesson to illustrate paint colour mixing if students have not practised it during the year. Once works were finished students left them at school to dry.

Lesson 4  

The following week, students gathered their artworks on their desks and we held a class discussion. I also added the theme of art criticism to this lesson. This involves students commenting about other students’ works. After this LS students were so happy with their works! They learnt so much about this disability and also about women in history through the Visual Arts.  Here are some pictures of their finished works next to each other.

This Learning Scenario created such a great opportunity for learning and growth within the Visual Arts, Equality and Science. It fit in perfectly for the Month of March to celebrate woman’s history month.  It was a pleasure executing it and I am sure I will repeat this lesson with another year group next year.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?

Colour-blind Women (LS-ES-268) by Aaron Bernardez 

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Nationalmuseum, Sweden.

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