Are Colorblind People Disabled?

If you are colorblind, do you feel disabled? And what does the law say about it? Do others have to take some precautions, in a way that colorblind people are not excluded because of their handicap?

There is an interesting discussion going on at, if color blindness has to be looked at as a disability or not. In this case looking at the UK law and their Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The question is not easy to answer, because there are many different types of color blindness and the law doesn’t really name any disability, but just describes them.

You might like to join the discussion at Are colorblind people disabled?

Do you think color blindness is a disability or not?

31 responses on “Are Colorblind People Disabled?

  1. Daniel Flueck Post author

    You are right; it could be considered as a disability. I would say in most cases it’s more a handicap and one shouldn’t talk about a disability. But in some cases like rod monochromacy it should be seen as one.

  2. Mark

    Yeah, I came across this blog because I’m researching my own color-blindness (dichromatic, missing M-cone) because for years my dad would tell me I just didn’t know my colors.

    Deep down I kind of thought he was right and just didn’t talk about colors when I saw something ever. The eye doctor who diagnosed me years ago never explained anything to me about how it works.

    I think it’s a definite handicap and should be accomodated for when necessary. I work in IT, and I have frequent trouble creating network cables because I can’t tell the colors apart.
    Also, rarely I mistake a stop-light’s green light for an overhanging dirty white lamp. As a young guy at 25 I’m pretty alert but in old age I could see it possibly becoming more of a hinderance to my driving.

    Not that I’m going to let them take my license away due to my disability, come hell or high water.

  3. Todd

    How can it not be a disability? I do not have the ability to see colors that are required for certain employment situations. I was denied a license by the Federal Goverment, I have been turned down by the Army for certain jobs and flat out denied employment solely on the basis that I couldn’t pass the test. I relate to Mark as I didn’t know all throughout my youth that I was colorblind, I have red/green and blue/yellow difficiency. I believed that I was to stupid to remember my colors. I became very confused in certain situations that effected my understanding of reality. I disassociated with children of my own age simply because I did not see what they saw. I felt like that person whom hears a joke but doesn’t get the punch line, daily. When someone comments “Wow look at the pretty flowers” and you think ‘so, look at the pretty dirt’ it gives you a different path in life, frustrating and isolated. To those who do not think it’s a disability but a ‘handicap’ try it, feel what it’s like to be denied because of something about yourself that you have no control over, nor can change. We get to see the world but it’s true beauty is hidden from us.

  4. Rummy

    Hello World!

    I have a Colege Degree! i have Navy and army! I have have EMT! I have a Public Police academy certificate! I cant pass a freaking color test to save my life or my familes: literally!!!! I cant get a job because I cant freaking see colors…You tell me its not a dissabilty. Your full of it and you dont see the world in black and white.

  5. Paul

    I wanted to join the Defence Force.
    I couldn’t because I am color blind.

    I wanted to join the NSW Police Force.
    I couldn’t because I am color blind.

    I wanted to join Australia Customs.
    I couldn’t because I am color blind.

    If that is not considered disability discrimination then the people writing our laws must be the ones whom are blind.

  6. Chris

    I agree with Todd, while as a disability it is not as serious as blindness, colour blindness does leave you in a grey (!) area. I well remember the discomfort I felt at one job where we were required to make a simple colour identification, someone asked, “What if you are colour blind?” The instructor answered, “Just say what colour you think you see!” This produced a laugh from the roomful of people; I was, alas, unable to share the joke, having thoughts of alternative employment n mind.

  7. Adrian

    Paul : That’s not disability discrimination. That’s ability discrimination, misguided or not, it’s just the same as insisting that your pilots have both arms, your wine taster has a working nose, etc.

    Red and green are iconic colours for “danger/safe”, “stop/go”, “hot/….errr minty? pistachio?”… ; and that cultural hurdle is difficult to clear.

    With 1:12 of the male population RG colourblind, designing colour coding that doesn’t take account of that could be considered foolish, but it also means that you are making things harder for 96% of your audience.

    Where it’s been an issue, I’ve settled for using additional visual indicators that do not rely on colour ; red AND strikethrough, green AND underscore.

    It might interest the military types to know that WWII bomber crews would try to recruit at least one member who was RG colour blind – because like an Ishihara test in reverse, they could spot certain kinds of camouflage with ease where their “chromatically unchallenged” fellows would have difficulty.

  8. callum

    I am a 16 year old and have been disaproved by the army as fit for a soldier. This is because I was born with somthing that I cannot change or practise for. Colour blindness. And what is worse that I was in the defence force cadets and was lead scout because I was the first person to see movement not colour difference! But life goes on.

  9. Dan

    I dont know wether I would class as a disability but am starting to think it should be. I left the Navy in 2005 having served 4 years on a submarine. I had a few ideas of careers I would like to have pursued when I left but each of them I was unable to do due to my colour blindness so Im with Paul on this one!!

  10. Richard Healy

    A recent job I researched before applying has under essential criteria MUST NOT BE COLOURBLIND.

    It was for a role in forensics with the police, I was just surprised to see it stated so boldly. I can kind of understand the reason, but cross forensics of the list: it’s not just the military.

  11. claire

    I’ve found all the points raised really valid and firstly, I have always been of the view that a handicap is an older way of saying ‘disability’ (unless talking in golfing terms). Secondly, I agree that it is the lack of ability to see colour and therefore should be given acceptance and understanding as other congenital conditions are under the disability discrimmination act, particularly as it is a life-long condition.

    And!!! I would invite any clinician or health professional to come and tell my 8 year old daughter, who was recently found to be colour blind in both red/green and blue/ yellow shades,that it doesn’t matter or is not important that she will probably never see Santa’s red coat or Rudolphs red nose in its rightful colour. AND – never mind – that she thinks the pink fluffy room we have created together is white, struggles with certain reading books,colour co-ordinating clothes and make-up, thinks that a grey dull sky (which is quite often round here)equals a bright day and blue skies are void of colour, cannot distinguish who/where her friends are when outside if she is not stood next to them, or if she has sunburn, she struggles to read the whiteboard info if the teacher has written in orange or pink. Can only tell the difference between a grapefruit and a large orange, or an orange and a lemon through shape alone, cannot see green tomatoes or bad grapes. Thinks she is stupid becaue she doesn’t get stuff that others get – well !!! of course she doesn’t, because she literally doesn’t get it…H E L L O. She also cannot share the joke at pantomimes with men in pink dresses and stage makeup and asks what is so funny. So social exclusion occurs at many levels. Not to mention her reaction time to dark coloured cars on the road when she wants to cross over as brown, black, purple, darker blues all appear as black to her, so her whole attempts of crossing over the road is exaggerated and longer as she is often looking for movement. Her brain must work overtime at school just trying to keep up with things that full visually seeing people take for granted.

    Finally, if being colour impaired, colourblind or void of many colours is not such a big deal and a case of “Awh well you’ll just have to live with it”, then why do thousands of people pay more to watch colour tv, when they could, effectively get just as much from watching black and white tv at a cheaper lisence rate? Can you imagine the frustration and how some people would react to being only allowed a black and white telly in their house and being told “thats what you’ve got so deal with it”!! well thats how som people feel. However, it remains to be said, the ones who have a choice, make a choice and – interestingly – they choose colour because colour interprets stories, visual aids, information, and enhances communication,detail and understanding. It complements certain detail in certain ways and communicates a wider area of the subjects we are dealing with on a daily basis. Therefore, my daughter has a right, just like everybody else to have knowledge, understanding and access to services available to her that will enhance her knowledge and help her lead her life to her full potential, whether at school, shopping, at brownies or any other part of her daily life.

    Oh and just one other point – she too has major strengths in areas such as being able to see through the doors and windows at school which are mirrored on the outside, intentionally to stop people being able to see into the classrooms, which us mere mortals can’t and yes! she can see camouflage straight away and not to mention her fantasticly intricate detail in drawings.

  12. jizzer

    heck no

    just because you retards cant see doesnt mean you can complain because daddy didnt care … i mean seriously maybe you should think of a job instead of fricken abbly to work with colrod item when neccesary .. really if you where actually worried about this you will go to a vocational rehabilitation counscil and get any job you could want

  13. Josh

    This is absolutely depressing.
    I am 14 and every Job I am interested in is unavailable to me due to my colour blindness.

    Nsw Police,
    Australian Army,
    Automotive Mechanic
    Graphic Design
    Web Designer

    This is utterly disturbing.
    If you call colour blindness not a disability you are out of your mind. I used to believe it wasn’t an issue but when looking around career paths like you should be doing around my age you realise it truly is!

    Please email me your opinion or experiences.

  14. Callam

    Maybe not Josh.

    I am R/G colour blind and have a degree in Graphics and have been a web designer for the last 4 years.

    There are loads of ways to help you pick colours that match, so I wouldn’t rule out design.

  15. Rick

    what about electricians? Are there any of you out there? I am r/b deficient and I was considering pursuing an electrican career. I read a lot of contradicting information on the internet about the possibility of being a color blind electrician.

  16. Redshift

    Colour Vision Defect or Colour Blindness is a disability I’ve got Tritanopia and can’t see Blue – Yellow section of the colour spectrum. Also gets worse when you get older..

  17. Ant

    Are color-blind people disabled? The answer is surely in the question!

    If ‘blindness’ is a disability then the answer to the question must be ‘yes’: society has clearly defined ‘color blindness’ in terms analagous to a lesser form of ‘blindness’.

    While blindness is recognised as a disability, ‘color blindness’ is not.

    Less than 1% of the population uses a wheelchair; a further percentage has difficulty in walking as a result of a lower limb deficiency, perhaps using an aid such as a prosthetic leg or foot. I don’t think most people would see the walking disabled as somehow meriting less accommodation than the wheelchair user.

    Disability discrimination requirements in most developed nations now mandate that all new buildings MUST allow wheelchair access regardless of whether there is anyone working (or indeed needing) access by wheelchair.

    Yet the owners of those same buildings could lawfully discriminate against a significant percentage of the male population should they choose to do so. This might be on the basis of nothing more than a tenuous justification, say to require conformity with purported ‘norms’ tested by the Isihara Plates test as a precondition of employment therein.

    Adrian seems to think that such exclusion would be OK if it was supposedly based on a requirement such as ‘ability to recognise red fire extinguishers’. ‘Safety first!’

    If every building must accommodate the needs of the wheelchair disabled (less than 1% of the population), regardless of usage or cost, why should similar societal adjustment not be required to accommodate the needs of those who are discriminated against solely on the basis of a purported color ‘norm’ determined more than a century ago?

    Even the discriminatory red = stop / green = go connotations could be trained out in a generation if there was the will to do so, but there is not. It is easy to assume that these colors have ‘long standing’ meaning, but they do not. It is less than two centuries since rail travel introduced stop / go signals. It is only a century and half since red and green were chosen as the colors port and starboard navigation lights (and there were variations on the positions in which red, white and green lights were used for some years until the obvious need impelled a standard).

    What if other colours had been chosen?

    No doubt if females were as subject to this discrimination as males are something would have been done about it by now.

    I am supposedly only slightly deuteranomalous, but fail Isihara Plates tests (that are generally not administered in accordance with their own requirements anyway!).

    Why should I be excluded from a wide variety of potential employment solely on the basis of a test that is not even designed to assess suitability for the job?

    This is the moral equivalent of setting a weight-lifting test for an office job; it would certainly exclude most women. I have no doubt that would be deemed ‘sexual discrimination’.

    It is arguable that many color vision requirements are both disability AND sexual discrimination.

    Interesting website – well done!

  18. Bruce Gomes

    As a colour blind person, the issue here is that it’s relatively easy to use colors that even the colour blind can see, or to incorporate hash marks/cross marks/letters to indicate the color, but no one bothers, and requests for accommodation that could easily be accomplished are ignored. So companies and government will now spend millions to build ramps for the disabled, but they won’t make sure the colors they use aren’t visible to everyone. Can we raise awareness on this, or is legislation the only recourse?

  19. Gabriel

    i feel like i found my people…i’ve never seen this many colorblind people together before…it’s great to see some of the common problems…

    i don’t know if it’s a disability, it’s usually a disadvantage.

    When someone finds out you are have you had them give you the “what color’s this?” test? and you pass with flying colors, because they are just standard shades? Then they say, “you’re not color blind.”

    For driving it’s not usually an issue, but because i see the greenlight as white, i have trouble distinguishing it from a streetlamp.

    Other than that, the only other time it really becomes an issue is that i can’t tell when meat is cooked. When i was in tenth grade i briefly worked as a cook at Dairy Queen, and when they found out i was colorblind, then i was let go.

  20. Amy

    Maybe folks who are color blind are not dasabled, just challenged when it comes to discerning colors. Disability? What about when it comes to traffice lights? The term is relative, I suppose. Not disabled as the person who cna’t see at all is. Then, when you interject legal issues, that is a whole nother story. Amy

  21. Chris

    I have a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University. I am an Army Reserve Combat Medic. I speak a second language. I have studied martial arts for 5 years.

    I am Green colourblind.

    I cannot Be:

    Australian Customs
    Victoria Police
    NSW Police
    QLD Police
    NT Police
    ACT Police
    Federal Police
    SA Police
    Cavalry Scout
    Gun Number
    Military Police
    UAV Operator

    Everything I want to be. I cannot be.

    Discrimination against me is legal.

    Thankfully the WA Police have seen the light and removed this silly notion of colourblindness and removed the requirement.

  22. Cyndi

    My Grandson is taking a HVAC course..The first part is electrical…He did not want to tell the instructor that He is color blind(red/green)..I am worried..Can a color blind person work on electrical…I really need help with this answer..Thank You

  23. Daniel Flück Post author

    Cyndi, I would definitely say it’s possible. It depends on your grandson if he really wants to. There will be of course some difficulties which he has to master, but this is only a question of will and organization.

    I would say, be honest and talk to the instructor. This way you might find some good solutions and help from the beginning on.

  24. Usch

    I have and will always be disabled by my color-blindness. I just wish that the world would understand, I didn’t chose this, I was handed this crippling dis-ability. I can’t get jobs and have lost jobs because of it, but it’s not our fault, it’s natures. Government doesn’t even acknowledge it’s existence until it affects them, how sad is that? I want America to understand, I can’t stand it anymore. Please help me

  25. ellie

    My dad is color-blind. And, he loves to drive. He’s never gotten a ticket. Its just he can get his commercial license.

    Its been a challenge for him to find a job he likes. So I definitely think its a disability in our society.

  26. Ryan

    I believe it is very possible for a career in the electrical business. I’m RG color blind and have obtained a Network + Certification and am studying to become an Electrical Engineer.

    As is the prevailing issue, you mainly need to find an employer willing to give you a chance and work with your color blindness. I just look at my situation not as a disability but just as the way I see things, and I try my best to make things work.

  27. Matt

    I am currently doing a pre-lim course to get into the NSW Police Force. Have found out I am colourblind. I have researched and had a consult with a specialist who can fit me with corrective glasses.
    My drama is, that noone at the police recruitment centre can answer my question “Is it acceptable to wear corrective glasses for the Police Force” can anyone out there give me and answer……I am so frustrated.