Category Archives: Stories

The One-Eyed Colorblind

Last Thursday we packed up our sleeping bags, a tent, cooking gear and catched a train southwards. In the southern part of Switzerland called Ticino we put up our tent for some lovely days in the sun. The weather forecast said: rain and cold temperatures north of the Alps and a lot of sun with warm temperatures in the south, the sun parlor of Switzerland – Ticino.

As we could enjoy an extra long weekend everything looked perfect. Apart that many other people had the same plan, it was just a great welcome for the upcoming summertime. At least the first 24 hours.

It was the first camping trip for our little Benjamin. He is only ten month old and needed some time to get himself used to the tent, his little sleeping bag and the whole surrounding. But I would say after a while he enjoyed himself very much. And of course we enjoyed it a lot too.

In the afternoon of our second day we planed some swimming lessons with our son. I hopped into the water and my wife handed our son over to me. In this very moment little Benjamin aimed and stroke directly into my right eye with his little finger.

For a moment I couldn’t open my eye anymore. I even lost my equilibrium sense for some seconds. It took a while until I was ready again for the swimming lesson.

The hours after the impact felt ok. I could do some stuff, we went shopping and even had a nice dinner in a lovely grotto. But my eye started to hurt more and more. I thought it will be over the next day after a good sleep, while my eye could relax. But it was even worse.

I couldn’t open my eye anymore easily. It was swollen and it needed quite some effort to use it. We decided to pack up our stuff and see somebody at the pharmacy in the next town. A nice woman had a close look at my red eye, I mean right eye :-) and said we have to go and see a doctor at the hospital.

Ok. Next step was the visit at the hospital. We were already feeling a bit uncomfortable about my eye. What was going on? But a very friendly doctor relieved from our thoughts. It was just a little cut in the cornea. He said this will be over in two days. I only have to cover the eye to relax it and to support the healing process.

So I was walking around like a pirat for the last two days. It not only did look very funny but it was also quite an experience. Just being able to see through one eye not only for a moment but for a whole day was a completely new feeling.

  • I couldn’t estimate distances. I had to feel the glass to be sure that I pour into it and not aside.
  • I couldn’t see to the sides. Because my left I was so focused on a spot I missed many things on the sides.
  • I couldn’t see on the right side. Of course I couldn’t see anything on the right eye because it was covered. This was a very strange feeling.
  • I felt exhausted. I don’t know if this was because I could only use one eye to see which exhausted me very much or if it was because of the healing process. But I had to take a nap several times a day to have at least some power for the rest of the day.

I am happy that this is over now and I can see again through both eyes. My right eye is not hurting anymore and the vision is almost back as it was before. Supposably it will heal completely during the next couple of days and I will be back again colorblind but sighted.

This last days showed me that color blindness is a handicap but just a tiny little one compared to half or even complete blindness. Always think of that when you feel disadvantaged through your color blindness.

Related articles:
Shopping for my Boy
Supporting a Colorblind Husband

Sunset

Do you like sunsets? When the sky gets covored with all those beautiful colors, the sun shines in all kind of shades, the mountains are glowing and everybody says: Wow, look. It’s so beautiful.

I always look and say: What? What is so beautiful?

From our house we can see the mountains. And often my wife tries to describe me when the sun sets how they are glowing in different shades, reflecting the sunrays. But I never ever can see nothing.

Of course I can see the mountains, but most of the time they are just gray. All different shades of gray, but still only gray and nothing else.

Do you like sunsets as well? I prefer it when the sun is gone and the moon and stars are shining. Because after the sun went down everybody sees the same – all the colors are gone.

Playing Trivial Pursuit with a Colorblind

Playing board-games is great fun and a lovely pastime. One of the most famous among them is Trivial Pursuit. Chris Haney and Scott Abbott invented it in 1979. Trivial Pursuit was finally launched in 1981 and started its triumphal procession all around the world. It is now sold in at least 19 different languages spread over 33 countries.

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit – Volume 6

It is a great game and I do love playing it. Everybody is eager to answer the imaginative questions and to collect the sought-after plastic pie slices. Everybody has his favourite area of questions and therefore his favourite color, as every of the six question areas is expressed through a distinct color. But the inventors made one big mistake which they never really eliminated.

Have you ever played Trivial Pursuit with a colorblind? It is still fun but sometimes it degenerates to a color guessing and asking game. The six different colors used to reflect the six different question areas are definitely not well chosen for people affected by a color vision deficiency.

Imagine the following two different situations are reoccurring all the time during the game.

Colorblind: “Ok. I landed on green. I love green question.”
Not-Colorblind: “Wrong. You are on brown.”
Colorblind: “Oh no. Come on, this is green.”
Not-Colorblind: “No, definitely not.”
Colorblind: “Ok. Let me move again. I hate brown questions.”
Not-Colorblind: “Ok. Last time.”
Colorblind: “Thanks.” (Move) “Now, ask me the green question.”
Not-Colorblind: “Ohm, sorry. But this time you landed on orange…”

This was the first situation which happens all the time to me. I’m constantly asking if I got the colors right or if I mixed them up again.

In second situation the roles are swaped. But it is therefore not less common than the one described above.

Colorblind: “And the blue question for you is: …”
Not-Colorblind: “Stop, stop. It is not blue. It is pink.”
Colorblind: “Yes? Oh yes. I want to kid me again.”
Not-Colorblind: “No. Honestly, it is pink and not blue.”
Colorblind: “But last time you told me differently.”
Not-Colorblind: “Who is having problems with colors here?”
Colorblind: “Ok, ok. Next time I’m going to mark every single field…”

As I said, I really like this game very much and we quite often play it. But I would like it even more if they had chosen better colors or some kind of patterns which can be easily told apart from each other.

There are many different editions of Trivial Pursuit. Maybe there is even one where they have chosen another color strategy. Did you ever play such a colorblind-sensitive one?

Further readings:
Canada Heirloom Series: Trivial Pursuit
Wikipedia: Trivial Pursuit

Related articles:
Japan’s Public Facilities Making Life Easier for Colorblind
Bread Wrapped Up In Colors
Imagine the Green is Red

Shopping for my Boy

We have something going on here in Switzerland called Children Cloth Exchange (Kleiderbörse). Almost every village organizes some of those exchanges during the year. You can bring the children cloths you don’t need anymore, add a price tag and hope somebody will buy it. And of course you can buy clothes from others at very cheap prices. It’s kind of a secondhand party for children.

Last week one of those exchanges was organized just around the corner. And we made a big deal: we bought a bike trailer seating two children, very cheap and in very good condition (color: yellow).

When I went along to the place to pick up the trailer, I had a look around for some other clothes. Our boy is now just over 8 month and he needs new clothes all the time. I found two nice shirts, bought them and placed them proudly on the table at home so my wife can see my catch when she gets home from work.

She got home, looked at them and said: “Well nice. But the color…”

Related articles:
A Colorblind Decides on Colors
Bread Wrapped up in Colors
Khaki – the Color of the Colorblinds

Japan’s Public Facilities Making Life Easier for Colorblind

Colorful Tokyo Subway Map

Colorful Tokyo Subway Map

TMCnet reported that Japan’s local governments and the private sector spport approaches to make life a little easier for people with weak color-discerning ability. They advise railway companies to improve their timetables and railway maps to be at least readable by people suffering from red-green color blindness. As there have more than 3 million Japanese a congentinal red-green color vision deficency this improves the public services a lot.

Yosuke Tanaka, 37, who was a member of a civic group says:

Few complaints are heard, because many colorblind people want to conceal the impairment to avoid discrimination.

Japan tries to improve the situtation slowly providing barrier-free facilities with so called “universal designs”. These take into account the different kinds of color vision deficiencies and are readable for all people.

Further reading:
Japan’s Public Facilities Making Life Easier for Colorblind

Related articles:
Ashamed of Color Blindness
Going to the Toilet
The Biology behind Red-Green Color Blindness

Project Management by Red and Green Light

When I was working as a software engineer we usually held a status report meeting once a week. As the project leaders wanted to know if everything goes well or not we used simple red light/green light reports. Every team member listed on a simple sheet the ongoing tasks and used coloring to show the actual status:

  • Green means everything is on track,
  • Yellow shows us that there are some minor problems and
  • Red let the alarm clocks ring.

If I would have been the project leader I could always sleep without any concerns. As being an optimist for me everything looked either green or at most yellow, but never ever red. In my eyes only a pessimist could spot the red tasks.

Here my two simple advices for project leaders who base there status reports an red lights/green lights:

  • Use bright yellow, medium green and dark red.
  • In addition name the status/the color.

As there are 8% of men suffering some kind of color blindness this could easily affect one of your team members. Think about it.

Related articles:
Colorblind People are Wise Persons
How the World is seen through Colorblind Eyes

Bread Wrapped Up In Colors

I am a bread-lover. Yes I do really love to eat bread, can’t get enough of it, every day. But you have to know here in Switzerland there are many bread-lovers because it is just so good. If you ask somebody coming home from a long vacation or being abroad what they missed the most, you usually get the answer: bread. So one could call us a nation of bread-lovers.

Now, if you don’t bake your bread at home (what I do quite often) you go to a grocery and buy some as you do it all around the world. We have some very well groceries which you can find all around the country. And one of them had a great idea a few years ago.

Bread is usually sold in open paper bags to keep it fresh and crusty (yes, our bread is crusty and we love it). The question is now: how do you find the bread you like in the rack? There are white, dark, half-white, half-dark, wholemeal, corn, spelt and different grains bread – just to start with. All wrapped up in open paper bags, stuffed into a wooden reck.

Colors; the answer is colors. They started to use three different colored bags: yellow for whitish breads, green for wholemeal breads and red for darkish breads. Of course they didn’t choose Ferrari-red nor sunflower-yellow nor grass-green. The colors aren’t shiny at all and this is the root of all evil.

I mean you can’t ask the employees, it would look strange because, you know it, the breads are packed into colored paper bags now. And you don’t want to walk around with a sign “I am colorblind, please help me choosing my bread.”

The problem is that now the different breads are not as well sorted anymore as they were before. Why should they be there is no reason anymore. And therefore everybody suffering from color blindness, and there are many, has to watch closely, hold the bread, turn them around, read the ingredients just to find out it is the wrong sort of bread.

For me this is very funny. This nice colored paper bags brought more a burden than a relief to my shopping experience. And why is it funny? Because I hold a bread in my hands, try to figure out if it is the right one just to hear my wife’s voice ten meters away: “Didn’t you want to buy this and this bread? You hold on to the wrong one.”

Ashamed of Color Blindness

I remember this story as the first time I really realized that my vision of colors is different to others. I suppose I knew before that I was suffering from color blindness, but I couldn’t really classify it until this morning at school. It was the my second year at primary school and we were painting with water colors. I am not a great painter, neither I was at that time but I colored a nice landscape. Some hills and grass, maybe a house, the sun, everything was nice and colorful until, yes until I started to fill in the sky.

Blue, of course it had to be blue. And what a nice blue I mixed together. So I started painting on one side making my way to the middle of the picture. Suddenly an other child stopped by started giggeling and pointed at my sky color.

Yes, what a shame, it was all pink.

I really felt ashame. How could I possibly mismatch those two colors? I tried to cover the messed up part of my picture but it didn’t really work out. So my sky was blueish-pinkish. Great. I remember that I couldn’t stand it that I colored this last part of my painting just with a completely wrong color. Color blindness simply presented on an otherwise wonderful piece of art. Now I even could make out the difference. As soon as they told me, I could see that I have chosen the wrong color. But it was to late, to late to fix it. What a shame.

Is color blindness something to be ashamed of? You say no; I say no but sometimes I just feel so. Ashamed of not being able to tell if it matches or if something is of the right color or just choosing the wrong color and everybody can see it and then – afterwards – I realise it too. My color blindness I think is nothing to be ashamed of but sometimes I just am.

Do you have a Problem with Colors?

It happened the night before we went on our long trip accross the US and to Hawaii. I had to do some last purchases at the grocery store accross the road. On my way back, it was late night and not many cars on the road, I crossed just before the little walking man jumped from red to green. To my misfortune a policeman observed this delict, walked towards me and said: Do you have a problem with colors?

Yes I do have a problem with colors. I am colorblind. I’m suffering from a red-green color deficiency. And I don’t think it is very funny where we can have a big laugh now. Do you have a problem with that? – I felt offended.

But I didn’t say anything. As you know, it was the day before our big holiday, so I kept silent. I just payed the bill, smiled, wished a nice evening and took off. And this reaction was even better, because they realized what a mere nothing this all was about and I could spot how uncomfortable he felt.

The Color of Crayons

A fun fact from Crayola:

In 1990, after 37 years of service, the most senior Crayola crayon maker, Emerson Moser, retired after molding a record 1.4 billion crayons. It was not until his retirement that he revealed a very well-kept secret – he was actually colorblind.

Let’s make a painting. Green grass, blue sky and a bright sun. So let’s take the green crayon for the grass. But how do I know which one is the green crayon? I have this problem all the time. Either I know the color of my crayons or pencils I have with me otherwise I have to guess. Every time, really every time. If you own your box of crayons you just know the colors by heart. You learned them once and remember which one is which color. I think this is very strange for somebody who can see colors. Color blindness is about learning colors like foreign words. And after a while you forget it or it shows up in a different shade and you have to learn again. Learning colors.