Access the video transcript.
At Perkins, we are a gathering place of ideas. The CVI visual behaviors synthesize current research and build on the work of leading theorists in the field. CVI is a lifelong disability and we want to ensure that all individuals with CVI are fully understood. The CVI visual behaviors are an ongoing need, they can change and they can improve for some, but the need never goes away. No one area is separated from the other—the CVI visual behaviors are highly connected and all can impact the individual with CVI at any time.
What is the impact of color?
What is the impact of color on visual attention (ability to look at something)?
- Highly saturated colors may help elicit visual attention and some individuals with CVI may demonstrate increased visual attention towards a specific color or set of colors (this may evolve over time).
- Color applied to parts of objects or images may draw visual attention to details of those objects or images.
- Color, when presented with contrast, can help support visual attention for individuals with reduced contrast sensitivity (for example, adding red tape to washed-out gray stairs).
- Individuals with CVI may rely on color to visually locate objects in clutter or at a distance. This closely relates to the assessment area of Visual Curiosity and Impact of Clutter!
What is the impact of color on visual recognition (ability to interpret and recognize what you are looking at)?
- Individuals with CVI may rely on color to identify objects.
- Highly saturated objects may be a support for visual recognition of objects in clutter or at a distance.
- If an object has just one color, rather than being multicolored, it may be easier for individuals with to recognize that object as a whole, and not have it look like a collection of separate pieces. This closely relates to the impact of clutter!
Color is a learned method of understanding. My son uses color to code things. When he was in preschool, he struggled deeply with facial recognition, but he could tell me what color and kind of backpack each of his friends had. When he can’t remember the name of a person, character, or item, color is always the first (and sometimes the only!) descriptor. Color is how he tracks SO many things. Kira, CVI Parent
- Individuals with CVI may use color-coding (identifying something based on its color rather than its details and shape) for recognition, learning and independence support.
- Color is a relative strength for some individuals with CVI, so color is often used to help understand their world.
What are some look fors/questions when observing your child with CVI?
- Do they have favorite items or toys that have common color properties?
- Do they rely on color to find and identify objects? At close range and at a distance?
- Do they use color to help find something mixed in with other items?
- Do they confuse one item for another, if it’s the same color?
- How do they react to items with many colors?
- How does color help support access to objects, 2D images, and/or print?
- Do they recognize people based on the color of hair or clothing?
- Do they miss items that are similar in color to the background (contrast sensitivity)?
What are some examples of adaptations and accommodations?
All accommodations must be based on individual assessments. The following examples are meant to inspire and provide a general idea. Accommodations and instructional approaches must be student-specific. Access is individual.
Examples from a guide to common CVI IEP accommodations:
- use bright color (and high contrast) to highlight and alert the student to important areas and landmarks, parts of a structure/item to touch or grasp, targets at a distance, and changes in depth.
- use materials that contrast in color with the surface area; for example, a brightly saturated color against a plain, dark background.
- use color to highlight areas of importance on three and two-dimensional materials for instruction in visual attributes.
- use color to support visual motor (reaching, grabbing, placing, taking out, eating skills, riding, or walking) and serve as a support for viewing targets at a distance.
- use color-cueing and color-coding to help recognize and locate items in both near and at a distance.
- conduct an ongoing assessment of appropriate use of color when introducing symbols, letters, and words.
Following the science
Connecting current research on the brain, our visual system, and CVI to better understand the CVI visual behaviors.
- Color is a sensation created in the brain. The eye and brain translate light into color. Color is not inherent in objects—the surface absorbs and reflects and we perceive what is reflected.
- Color constancy refers to our ability to perceive colors as relatively constant over varying illuminations. Patterns of activity in the brain perceive the object’s color as relatively stable despite changes in its environment. This stable perception of color is an important cue for object recognition. Once the brain learns to associate an object with a certain color, it does everything in its power to maintain this color association.
- Research suggests that V4 (located in the occipital lobe) is responsible for color, and is involved in both color and form processing (Goebel et al, 2012). Color identification under different illuminations was impaired when V4 was lesioned (Foster, 2010). Limited study suggests that individuals with CVI have increased visual attention to bright colors (Cohen-Maitre, 2015).
- The memory color effect is when a familiar color of a well-known object has an influence on how we perceive that object’s color. This effect requires that the object is strongly associated with a typical color and that the person is highly familiar with the object. How strongly a particular object refers to a typical color through memory colors is called color diagnosticity.
- Color information can have an important role during the visual recognition process for familiar and recognizable objects (both natural objects and artifacts), and can facilitate semantic (word meaning) retrieval (Brameo et al, 2010).
Learn more about the development of the Perkins CVI Protocol.
- Claeys, K., Dupont, P. Cornette, L. Sunaert, S., Van Hecke, P., De Schutter, E., & Orban,G. (2004) Color Discrimination Involves Ventral and Dorsal Stream Visual Areas, Cerebral Cortex, 14(7), 803–822.
- Cohen-Maitre, S. A. & Haerich, P. (2005). Visual attention to movement and color in children with cortical visual impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 99(7), 1-19.
- Foster, D. (2010). Color Constancy. Vision Research 51 (2011) 674-700. Retrieved April 19, 2022 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698910004402
- Granzier, J. & Gegenfurtner, K. (2012). Effects of Memory Color on Color Constancy for Unknown Colored Objects. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 27, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3485846/
- Goebel, R., Muckli, L., Kim, D. (2012). The Visual System. The Human Nervous System. Chapter 37, pages 1301-1327. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123742360100379
- Lueck, A. H., & Dutton, G. N. (2015). “Intervention Methods: Overview and Principles.” A. H. Lueck & G. N. Dutton (eds). Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children (pp. 497-536). New York, New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press.
- Pantone (2022). How Do We See Color? Retrieved April 27, 2022 from https://www.pantone.com/articles/color-fundamentals/how-do-we-see-color
- Pinna, B., Werner, J., Spillmann, L. (2008). Illusory Color & the Brain. Scientific American. Retrieved April 27, 2022 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/illusory-color-andamp-the-brain-2008-05/
- Roman-Lantzy, C. (2018). Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention. 2nd ed., New York, NY: AFB Press.
- Roman-Lantzy, C. (2019) Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principles. Louisville, KY: APH Press.
- Ting Siok, W., Kay, P., Wang, W. S., Chan, A. H., Chen, L., Luke, K. K., et al. (2009). Language regions of brain are operative in color perception. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106, 8140–8145.
- Yoto, A., Katsuura, T., Iwanaga, K., and Shimomura, Y. (2007). Effects of object color stimuli on human brain activities in perception and attention referred to EEG alpha band response. J. Physiol. Anthropol. 26, 373–379.