Most people dismiss colorblind people as having a minor problem with red and green. As we shall see below, color vision deficiency (CVD) is not as simple as that! About 8% of males (one in twelve men) have this condition while females suffer more rarely from it (5%). While it is normally an inherited condition, many people may suffer from it later on in life when it is caused by other illnesses such as diabetes or as a side effect of medication. Here are 10 things that the colorblind will understand only too well. It is much more than an eye health problem.
1. People think their world is only in black and white.
When people see the world in black and white, this is not the usual color blindness at all. It is a condition known as achromatopsia and sufferers see the world in different shades of grey. It is rather like viewing the world on an old black and white TV. Fortunately, this condition is very rare and about 1 in 33,000 people are affected.
2. People think the colorblind mix up red and green.
It would be great if it were that simple. They think that they just get their reds and greens confused. But, if you look at the actual cause of color blindness, it tells a different story. The eye has certain nerve cells, called cones, in the retina which can differentiate color. When this is defective, the eye fails to pick up the red elements so the colors of red and green appear to be the same color, a shade of light brown, in many cases. Another example of this red/green color blindness is that there is difficulty in seeing the red element in purple so they will have problems in distinguishing blue and purple.
3. People think it is a minor problem.
Many people dismiss color blindness as a minor disability. But the reality of life tells a different story. Colorblind people have difficulty when they do not realize their child may be getting sunburnt! They may have problems when gardening or when they have to prepare food, not to mention when buying clothes. Laying the table may become problematic when they select the ketchup instead of the chocolate sauce for the dessert. Glasses which can help block glare can usually help a little in better distinction of colors.
4. Colorblind children have problems with food.
Imagine telling a colorblind child to eat up his spinach. The problem is that it appears to him as a rather unattractive brown color which will remind him of something else which is totally disgusting. Similar problems arise when they have to distinguish between an unripe green banana and a nice yellow ripe one.
5. People think that colorblind people can adjust easily.
In many cases, colorblind people adjust and they can tell the difference between red and green traffic lights by their position. But, in many cases, their choice of career can be limited as they will have problems with colors. Becoming a fashion designer, graphic designer or an electrician are usually impossible for people with this condition.
6. Effects on the business and the economy are rarely taken into account.
It is only recently that the idea of changing colors in reports, graphs, presentations, brochures, colored house plans and maps to become more color-blind friendly has begun to make an impact. The truth is that all this colorful information may not be fully accessible for a small minority, around 10%. If the reds and greens are seen as brown, it may be impossible to fully understand a report, graph or a PowerPoint presentation.
7. Food marketing needs to take color blindness more seriously.
We seem to live in a red/green world. From traffic lights to the green economy and food packaging these two colors are everywhere! Let us take an example from supermarkets which use a red/green traffic light system which warn people of levels of fat, salt and sugar. A quick glance to spot the red colors which are unhealthy will do for most of the population. But for those who are suffering from CDV, then they have to read the actually detailed info on the label which is usually far too small anyway. This will affect about 5% of customers.
8. LED lights are infuriating.
Most warning systems use red and green to signal that a device is on standby. The red/green system is also used to indicate whether a battery needs charging. For the colorblind, this can be frustrating to say the least because they never know what is really happening. It is always the same old color!
9. Working in a safe environment is important.
Most employers have never even bothered to reflect on whether their premises are actually safe for the colorblind. Are the warning signs for health and safety using color as the main component? If they are, then this may lead to accidents. Health and safety authorities in the UK warn that under sodium lighting, red is not easily read by people with normal vision.
10. Using a computer with colorblindness.
British Telecom have issued a short guide for web designers to help make their pages more color-blind friendly. Keeping in mind such things as luminosity with background will make the text more readable. This is an excellent initiative because most web designers have never even taken this into consideration. It is high time they did!
Are you or a loved one color blind? How do you cope? Let us know in the comments.
Featured photo credit: Love on the rocks(Color version)/Anne Worner via flickr.com