The Color Blindness Project Questionnaire

Joanna is doing a project on color blindness. She wants to create a guidebook for parents to help them in the diagnosis of their child’s color vision. To fulfill her project she created an online survey to research and discuss the topic of color vision deficiency.

The proposed content of her guidebook sounds very promising. It will probably include the following topics:

  1. When to identify – age group
  2. How to identify – developing tests for kids
  3. What to do – step by step for parents (doctor visit, school – what to tell/give the teacher)
  4. How to equip house/classroom (safety first)
  5. How to educate friends/family/community
  6. How to teach their child to navigate neighbourhoods/MRT/shops/traffic lights etc…
  7. Identifying danger hotspots

As I am strongly color blind, I would like to present you in the following my answers to the survey:

When did you first discover you were colorblind?
At the age of about six in my first year at school.

How did you discover you were colorblind?
We had to paint a picture with color crayons. I painted the sky very solid—in pink. I thought it was blue until somebody told me that I was wrong. Only then, after a closer look at the color, I also realized that I’ve chosen the wrong color.

What are the issues/problems you have faced being colorblind? (as a child, navigating, identifying, naming, differentiating colors etc…)
As a child I new the colors of my crayons by heart. So far no problem. But if we had to paint I didn’t really like it so much because knowing the right colors or even mixing them was and still is a big issue.

Later at school I specially remember my chemistry lessons. We had to use some color coding to find certain elements, I never really could master this part.

While I was looking around for an apprenticeship I was interested to become an electrician. But I had to many problems with the color coding of the resistors, so I withdrew that thought.

These days I struggle with fitting clothes colors, any form of LED colors, seeing if something is occupied (red) or not (green), seeing nice flowers, seeing fruits and know if they are ripe or not and of course with naming any sort of color. I just guess colors or know them by heart, but I never really see colors, or I’m to unsure to know if it is right or not.

How did you overcome the shortcomings? (ways/solutions you found helped you in the process? how? who helped you?)
I think my only real technique to overcome my color blindness is to ask. Ask friends, work mates, family members and sometimes even some sale assistants. They help me besides making some jokes from time to time.

Lately I found out about a little big helper called Seekey. A great little tool specially if it comes to identifying LED colors.

What else can be included/excluded in the guide book for parents other than the ones described above to make it more comprehensive?
I think the most important thing is that parents should relax. Let your child first a chance to develop its color vision. And after that if you really find out that your child is color blind, don’t panic. There are millions of color blind people around the world who master their life perfectly. Yes I know, your child might not be able to become a pilot, police officer or firefighter. But think about it, this is not the end and many others also don’t have that chance because of a lot of other handicaps.

If you are also colorblind please consider filling out the online survey at The Color Blindness Project Questionnaire and help Joanna on the way to produce her parents guidebook about color vision deficiency.

ColorAdd: A Color Coding System

The designer Miguel Neiva developed a color coding system called ColorAdd which shall help colorblind people around the world. Simple and easy with many applications. Let’s have a closer look at it.

basic color codes
ColorAdd Basic Color Shapes

The system is based on three basic color shapes representing the primary colors blue, yellow, red and two forms for black and white. While mixing those basic graphics like you would mix colors themselves this results in a list of 21 basic colors including lighter (mixing in white) and darker (mixing in black) shades.

color palette color codes
21 Basic Color Codes of the ColorAdd System

This is it. Some more shapes for grey, silver and gold, but nothing else. That’s the whole ColorAdd system. At the first glance this is really simple and easy.

The designer claims that you don’t really have to memorize all those shapes as it works like mixing real colors. If you know the basic shapes you’re all set. In a way that’s true. But as I’m not that good on mixing colors—remember I am colorblind—I have to think about it twice if I’m right with my color mixture guess.

  • Simple: Yes. But somewhere you have to explain the system in my language as the symbols can’t easily be associated with the right colors.
  • Intuitively: No. Why don’t you use some sort of symbols which everybody associates with a certain color like fire, water and sun?
  • Nice design: Yes. Yes I like it. Simple shapes, they are nice to look at.
  • Robust usage: No. Hold some of them upside down and you will get the wrong color.

But the most important question to answer is: Can this color coding system be an added value for color blind people? This is what the designer claims and what it is actually all about. I don’t think so. Here are a few examples in my everyday life to support my point of view:

  1. The banana couldn’t change such a shape if it turns ripe. A big issue for me.
  2. Red/green led lights often already include some icon to show you something. So you can’t enhance them with another one and I’ll never know if it’s red or green.
  3. Ok, I would know if my shirt is blue or green. But I’m still not sure if it matches my purple tie or red trousers.
  4. And in most cases already now the manufacturers could add some sort of icon or pattern to help colorblind users in many situations. But they don’t do it and such a color code wouldn’t be easier to decipher than some simple icons.

Nice but unusable for me. I would be very glad if I get proven wrong in the future, if ColorAdd starts to get used and enhances my life in some way I can’t see yet.