While most people realise that becoming a pilot or joining the military are not realistic career options if you are colour blind, not many of us stop to think just how it would affect everyday life if you couldn’t see colour.
The truth is, people with colour vision deficiency can see colour, but their colour perception is limited and inaccurate. This makes it difficult for them to distinguish the many shades, tones and hues which most of us take for granted, impacting much more than just their career choices.
Experiencing Life with a Colour Vision Deficiency
Here are just a few examples of the challenges faced on a daily basis by the colour blind:
Driving – Although the position of the traffic light makes it possible for people with colour blindness to distinguish between red, green and amber signals, this can become a lot more difficult in wet and/or rainy conditions.
Grocery Shopping – How would you know if those bananas or apricots are ripe, without colour to guide you?
Eating – Colour vision deficiency may mean that food looks repulsive, rather than appetising. In fact, colour blind children often complain that food looks like poo! You can experience what food and other common objects look like to the colour blind on this website.
Reading charts and graphs – Colour coding is next to useless if you are colour blind – so if you are creating graphs or charts, make sure you add patterns, to make it easier for colour blind people to read them accurately.
Video Games – Just like charts and graphs, the colours used in video games appear extremely limited, meaning that important features don’t stand out.
Dress and Makeup – Garish colour choices in clothing and makeup could sabotage your chances of making a good first impression when it counts – for example in a job interview! And cosmetic manufacturers don’t help when they use meaningless names on makeup shades. What colour is “Fascination” for instance? Couldn’t they call it “Pink Fascination” so at least there is some indication of what the colour actually is?!
Facial Expressions – A lot of interpersonal communication relies on non-verbal cues – including colour. Imagine being a parent, and unable to tell if your child is flushed with fever or sunburned, or pale and about to faint?
How Modern Technology can help the Colour Blind
While there is no cure for colour blindness, those affected learn to adapt to their condition in various ways.
There have also been great strides in technology in recent years, meaning that colour blind individuals can now access apps on their mobile devices, or visit an optometrist to get colour blind glasses.
Although being colour blind could be considered to be a disability, it’s not all negative.
Colour blind individuals for example, can often see what is camouflaged to those with regular vision – for example, when analysing aerial photos of enemy territory!