Colorblindness, I reckon


colorblindI was reminded recently that I experience a degree of colorblindness. It surprises me because I can easily discern if an apple is red or green, e.g.

Or the broad category of book covers. In fact, there have been sections of my collection I’ve arranged by color, which is not a moral failure. When I was working as a librarian, we sometimes would refer to a book by broad function and color – “You know, that New York state directory with that maroon cover.”

But distinguishing between navy blue and black? I’m not so hot. I was living in an Albany apartment in the 1980s or 1990s when my mother visited from Charlotte, NC. I bought a rug, which I perceived to be black and a shade of brown. She said my indisputably blue chair would go well with the rug because they’re both blue. “Blue? Are you sure?” She thought I was kidding.

Back in librarian days, one of the librarians, with the assistance of a couple of colleagues, wrote a book called What’s Your Signage. Chapter 4, “Designing the Signage That’s Right for Your Business,” discussed the numerous factors that should be considered in creating an effective sign, including color contrast.

Yellow on white?

Recently, when I checked into my church – for contact tracing, if necessary – someone had marked the column for that date with a yellow line. My glasses were slightly foggy, and I couldn’t see the line. Someone insisted, “It’s right there!” Well, I could see the light green line from the previous week, and the pink line from the week before that, but not the yellow one.

Even as a child, I had a terrible time seeing yellow on white, or vice versa. Ditto certain purples and black. And since about 8% of the population is colorblind to some degree, those combinations should be avoided. Even the dull blue on the black background of the DVR display is not that easy for me to read. Whereas the red on the answering machine display is highly visible.

From AAO: “There are different degrees of color blindness. Some people with mild color deficiencies can see colors normally in good light but have difficulty in dim light.” I was taking down the artificial Christmas tree. Most of the bulbs I had removed; the one I missed, in that dim part of the living room, was a different shade of green.

If I were to place the black remote control to the television face down o the dark brown TV stand, I might never see it. Again, more light helps a LOT.

I got the graphic from Wikipedia. What number do YOU see? “Viewers with red-green color blindness” see it differently, and “those with total color blindness may not see any numbers” I see numbers, but not the correct ones, apparently.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Colorblindness, I reckon”

  1. maybe it’s not colorblindness, maybe it’s just astigmatism? I have bad astigmatism. Eye doctors have commented on how good my color perception is but I still have a hard time reading light type on certain backgrounds – I bought a bag of pancake mix that gave the recipe for using it in tiny grey letters on an orange background and no matter what I did – strong light, glasses off, glasses on, magnifying lens – allowed me to read it, I finally had to e-mail them and also complain “this isn’t very accessible!” They apologized and e-mailed me the recipe.

    I struggle with “navy or black?” if it’s dim enough in the room. More than once I put “black” tights on in my bedroom and then had to change because I saw they were blue when I stepped out into the living room.

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