Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Colour Blind Awareness

I'm always curious about colour blind people and wonder how they see the world differently. So I just start doing research and taking pictures on this topic, and below are images generated by Vishcheck filter to simulate colour blindness.

Fruits & Vegetables, as seen by red-green colour blind (right top & left bottom), and blue colour blind (right bottom).

What is colour blindness? Does that mean they don't see colour at all? 

Colour blindness or colour vision deficiency is the inability or decreased ability to see colour, or perceive colour differences, under lighting conditions when normal vision is not normally impaired. 

They see colour but only can't see certain colours as the average person. Majority of colour blind people get confused with red and green and call them brown, and few people get confused with blue and yellow. 

Radish sprouts, image with simulated filter

Types of colour vision deficiency:

Deuteranopia- Insensitivity to green light, causing confusion of greens, reds, and yellows

Protanopia - Insensitivity to red light, causing confusion of greens, reds, and yellows.

Tritanopia - Insensitivity to blue light, causing confusion of greens and blues.

Achromatopsia - Inability to see colour, more commonly known as total colour blindness.

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Colour blindness in Singapore:
Researchers found a total of 33 children (2.7%) out of 1249 children were identified as being colour blind in Singapore. This study was done in 2008,  details at here.

Unripe banana, as seen by red-green colour blind (right)

What do colour blind people say about their problems?

According to Dr. Barry L. Cole's publication entitled The handicap of abnormal colour vision,
most colour blind people experienced problems in selecting colours of clothes, paints, and cosmetics. Some people have problems in confusing signal lights with street lights, adjusting tv colour, wrong medicine taken because of colour coding,  recognizing skin rashes and sunburns, etc. 

Vegetables, as seen by red-green colour blind (below).

Very often that people with red-green colour blindness can’t tell if a fruit or vegetable is ripe or not.

Purple orchid, as seen by red-green colour blind (center) and blue colour blind (right)

Recycle bins, as seen by red-green colour blind (right)

As we know colour blindness is not a particularly serious condition. However, it can be an obstacle to certain career for safety reason, for instance they might not be suitable working in the electrical environment, because their duties are fraught with electrical hazards such as matching coloured wires, changing colured LED light and resistor tools, etc. 

On the positive site, there are some evidences that colour blind people are much better than average at certain jobs:

1.  They are good at seeing how dark/light a colour is, colour blind artists usually see contrast first and colour second, so this might actually be an advantage for them to create a good painting, graphic and interior design. 

2. Colour blind people are very good in finding things hidden against green backgrounds. They tends to look for outlines, as opposed to colour. That is why, colour blind person were employed during World War II to spot camouflaged german camps.

3. They have much better night vision than average people. 

More research on career planning for colour blind people can be found here: Living with Colour Blindness.   

Cleaver ways to compensate for colour blindness

1. Learn about the severity of your colour blindness. Use clues, and dark/light differnces to guess what colour something might be.  

2. Get a friend or partner to advise on matching ties and soaks, while asking the shop assistant's advice when buying clothes, paint, ripe fruits, vegetables, etc.   

3. Label office stationery (Sharpies, markers, coloured paper, etc.) with name of the colour.

Enjoy a complementary colour blind selftest

Take good care!