New guidance to ensure accessible exam papers for colour blind learners
New guidance to ensure accessible exam papers for colour blind learners

WJEC is the UK’s first exam board to develop a guide outlining how to produce accessible and inclusive assessment materials for colour blind learners.

Having collaborated with non-profit organisation ‘Colour Blind Awareness’, the comprehensive guidance offers advice for use as a best-practice resource for question paper authors and school or college staff working on assessments. The guidance raises awareness of the condition, explains how the use of colour in an assessment can impact candidates with colour blindness, and outlines the practical steps that can be taken to overcome these challenges.

In addition to written guidance, WJEC has also offered a package of training, to complement and ensure the successful application of the guidance.

Commenting on the guide Sally Melhuish, Assistant Director, at WJEC said: “Ensuring learners each have equality of opportunity is at the heart of everything that we do. It is important that we challenge ourselves to critique assessment materials, resources, guidance, and other documentation we produce objectively, and actively review these through the eyes of our intended audiences to eliminate bias, discrimination and disadvantage.”

Whilst the guidance to date has been targeted at assessment authors, the principles are relevant to other areas of WJEC work, and by sharing best practice they aim to raise awareness of these issues and ensure the use of colour in all WJEC resources, communications and digital content is accessible to all.

Also commenting, Kathryn Albany-Ward, CEO Colour Blind Awareness said: “Colour blindness affects one in 12 boys and one in 200 girls meaning statistically at least one learner in every classroom will be affected. Most are undiagnosed, as children are no longer screened at school entry. In addition, teachers are not trained in how to identify and support their colour blind students. Whilst limited Access Arrangement support is available for assessments, as many colour blind people are undiagnosed so it is essential that assessments are designed to be accessible from the outset.

‘The WJEC guide is a fantastic resource that not only helps to raise awareness of the issues amongst assessment authors but can be applied by other organisations, for example those creating online educational resources, textbooks and factsheets. It can also be applied by teachers directly in the classroom to modify inaccessible resources.

‘We are incredibly grateful to WJEC for recognising the importance of colour blindness in assessments and for taking the lead in creating accessible assessments for those with colour blindness.”

Launch event
To further promote awareness of colour blindness and the support available, Liz Twist MP hosted a launch event at Westminster Hall on June 14. The event was attended by Kathryn Albany Ward, alongside Carly Hill-Banks, Editorial and Accessibility Advisor for WJEC and featured interactive workshops, alongside opportunities for MPs to discover the resources available to colour blind individuals.

Free guidance
Guidance has been published on the WJEC website and is available to all schools and colleges for free.