Turning a blind eye

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.


Susie says:

Well here is the thing big brother, that is not red but yellow. It seems your small disability may be larger than you suspected!

Joel says:

I’m colour blind too mate. The only problem I ever have with it is not being able to read the numbers on Ishihara charts.

Nathan says:

Strangely enough – with a better quality monitor I can actually see a distinction in those colours – methinks it’s time to hit work up for a new screen.

Nathan says:

I should point out that I said the circle came from the “red end of the spectrum” it is in fact R 255 G 216 B 0 in Red Green Blue colour – or C 0 M 18 Y 94 K 0 on the Cyan Magenta Yellow Key (CMYK)scale…

Leah Maria says:

Ah, but the question is, is what you see really green? Or is it just what you call green?

… there’s that philosophical question ;)

I’ve always wondered how red/green looks to colour blind people. Methinks this simulator leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s pretty cool. What sort of colour blindness do you have?