Our own personal experience of what it means to be Colour Blind

As a web and digital accessibility software company we feel it’s vital that we understand and recognise the impact of colour blindness.

We always try hard to make sure all of our own content is accessible to the widest possible audience, including people who are colour blind, but sometimes we know we don’t always hit the mark.

Colour blindness impacts people in different ways, and we are aware of the impact the condition has through personal experience. Our Sales Manager Martin Robertson is colour blind and we want to share his experience of the condition.

Making all digital and offline content fully accessible is a journey for every organisation that never stops. That includes us! The more knowledge we all share about the barriers that stop people from accessing your content, the more we can all learn to keep progressing.

This is crucial to making digital information and services accessible and inclusive to the widest possible audience. Here’s Martin’s story about his experience of being colour blind, we hope you find it useful.

What sort of colour blindness do you have?

I’m red/green colour blind, which is deuteranomaly and protanomaly. From a practical standpoint this most often makes it difficult for me to identify some shades of greens from browns, or browns from reds, or blues from purples. But that’s not exhaustive.

To give you a practical example of what I mean I could stand at the top of a snooker table and ask you to replace one of the reds in the triangle with the brown. I won’t be able to tell you which ball is the brown one.

But, I can tell the difference between the brown ball and the green ball, due to the specific shades. However, once at school I drew a horse green and the grass brown as I couldn’t distinguish the shades. You can read more about the different types of colour blindness on the Colour Blind Awareness website.

When did you discover you were colour-blind?

I was seven when my colour blindness was confirmed. One Saturday afternoon at my Grandma’s there was horse racing on the TV. I pointed out the one with the brown jersey as the one I wanted to win. My grandad nodded, my Grandma and Mam looked at each other and organised a test for me – there was no brown jersey, only a green one.

Colour blindness is genetic and more common in males, typically passed on by females, so, knowing my Grandad was colour blind they knew at that point I was too.

Do you think that colour-blindness is misunderstood?

It’s about colour perception, so I think colour blindness is a misleading term. I can see colours, they just look different to me than they do to the next person.

What can website owners do differently to make their websites more inclusive to people with colour-blindness?

In web design (or any design for that matter) things that make a difference are not only using colours to distinguish differences, but using good contrast ratios and colour charts.

If you could wave a magic wand, what single thing would you improve in terms of the use of colour?

The key is contrast. There’s a well-known betting firm whose website gives you a pop up warning if odds have changed – I still like horse racing! That pop up is white text on a yellow background and I can’t read it.

You can visit the Colour Blind Awareness website for more information. The Colour Blind Awareness organisation has been founded to raise awareness of colour blindness (colour vision deficiency) and aims to be the first point of reference in the UK for people seeking information on colour blindness.

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