I have a disability – I don’t know if you know this, and I don’t really tell many people (except now I’m potentially telling the world) – but I am one of the 5% of males worldwide who suffers from colour blindness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I don’t really notice. I don’t really notice lots of things actually – red flowers on green trees, the difference between traffic light colours (that one’s a joke, I can tell the difference between extremes at each end of the red and green spectrums). Colour blindness is a profound philosophical issue – do we all see the world the same way? How would you describe a colour to a completely sight impared person? Colour can be a pretty abstract concept – particularly if you’re unable to make the distinction between two binarily opposed colours (red and green for example). I can never truly be sure if an outfit is colour coordinated, or what ball I’m actually aiming for in pool, or which wire to cut in a dramatic scene involving a ticking time bomb. It’s ruled me out of careers in the military, the electronics industry and the design industry. And now I can comprehensively show you why. This is a purpose built picture I put together in photoshop – featuring tones from the red and green spectrums – I see simply green… I know there are two colours there because I made the picture using a colour palette function. I can work out the distinction between the colours if I stare at them for long enough.
Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet – you can understand how I see the world with this colour blindness simulator.
It doesn’t quite do it justice – I see more a blurring of the circle with the background and if I really focus on it I get a headache. But this Ishihara diagram will probably help you to see the difference in what I see… unless you’re Joel.
You’re supposed to see a 6 – and I now believe it’s there because I played with the saturation and hue settings in photoshop and I could see it. If I look really hard at the unedited image I can now see where the six is, but I’d have no chance if I hadn’t cheated.
The avid reader will notice that this post has been edited – this occured after I met John Howard and shook his hand – there will be more on that in a later blog.