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Color Management and Color Blindness: How Can Monitor Technologies Help? 

Color management and color blindness are often perceived as two contradictory things. While color blindness has long been a major challenge to color management, the latest monitor technology provides extended controls over this workflow, making it more user-friendly than ever. This is especially important in the creative industry, where you need the highest level of color precision for your work to impact any audience in a desired way.

Read on to find out more about color management, color blindness, and relevant monitor technology, or explore ViewSonic solutions for creative work. 

For visual media creators, color management is at the core of the creative workflow – it’s therefore easy to see how color blindness can become a barrier. While maintaining consistent settings and color palette across devices is common knowledge among professionals, it’s not the only thing that matters. The design world is now becoming increasingly aware of the importance of digital accessibility and catering to those with color blindness. 

Color management refers to the process ensuring that colors are continuously represented the same way across media, from the beginning to the end of the creative course. Right now, the technology facilitates analyzing various use cases, including more of those with visual impairments. For starters, there are tools like browser-based color vision simulation that help visualize how contents appear to people with different color vision deficiencies.  

But for the best results, high-quality computer monitor technology will provide a more comprehensive and reliable solution. Before going any more granular on how color management and color blindness can be addressed by monitor technologies, let’s start by having a closer look at color blindness and its most common forms.  

Color management and color blindness - monitor technology

Color Management and Color Blindness Explained 

Within visual media, color management can most succinctly be described as the process of controlling the way colors are represented through the entire creative workflow. This most commonly refers to ensuring that all hues are displayed properly across all devices, such as cameras, computers, and smartphones, as well as print media. 

Although you can take steps to make sure everyone has the same experience when interacting with visual content, you shouldn’t forget those with a varying visual perception capacity. Among these, color blindness (or color vision deficiencies) represents one of the biggest groups of people. Color blindness is estimated to affect around 8 percent of the world’s population. It’s a vision deficiency, which impacts a person’s ability to either see or make the distinction between colors. As a condition, color blindness can be separated into three main types or categories, which are as follows. 

Red-Green Color Blindness 

As the name suggests, red-green color blindness is characterized by difficulties differentiating between red and green. This can be further broken down into deuteranomaly, where green colors appear redder, and protanomaly, where red colors appear greener. Deuteranopia, the most common form of color blindness, means inability to perceive green light and protanopia an inaptitude to perceive red light. 

Blue-Yellow Color Blindness 

Blue-yellow color blindness – also called tritanomaly – follows the same principle but is defined by difficulties differentiating between blue and yellow. Tritanopia is its more acute form and makes it impossible to distinguish blue from yellow and vice versa. People with tritanopia may also struggle to tell the difference between red and purple, as well as yellow and pink. 

Total Color Blindness 

The most complex variant of color blindness is referred to as total color blindness or achromatopsia. When a person experiences this type of color blindness, they are unable to see color at all. Instead, they perceive all colors to be black, white, or in shades of grey. This means that, while they may be able to differentiate between black and white – or darker and lighter shades – they either cannot identify differences in actual color or just find it very hard to do so. 

Monitor Technology: Color Management and Color Blindness 

One of the main ways color management and color blindness testing can be brought together is with computer monitor technology. In recent years, high-quality computer monitors started to be fitted with built-in color blindness tools for an easier approach to the creative process. 

Color Blindness Mode 

A monitor with a color blindness mode option will adjust the display of colors on the screen, assisting color blind viewers, or those with color vision deficiencies (CVD), to better differentiate between assorted colors on the screen. In the past, however, this often led to a distortion of colors for non-color-blind users, so it’s important to keep the balance between all the modes. 

Top-end solutions, such as ViewSonic’s ColorPro vDisplay Manager, are helping to change this by providing a greater level of color accuracy while still providing the same benefits. In fact, an independent technical report on the feature, carried out by TÜV SÜD, found that vDisplay Manager helped color blind users to recognize colors with 90% accuracy. In comparison, solutions offered by other manufacturers only offers accuracy levels of around 70 percent achieved when using other leading solutions on the market. 

Color management and color blindness - monitor technology

Color Blind Simulation 

The second main monitor feature used to assist with color management and color blindness design testing is a color blind simulation. The simulator works by allowing all users to see how people experiencing color blindness would see the visual media on a screen, with options to move between the types of color blindness. 

As a result, those involved with color management – including photographers, digital artists, web designers, and software developers – can understand how different audiences will experience their designs. This also enables you to make more informed decisions about which colors to use in order to provide a consistent experience. 

Understanding the Concept of Universal Design 

Color management and color blindness awareness all play into a broader concept, which is known as universal design. This is the process of creating visual media for everyone, regardless of their gender, age, cultural background, ethnicity, or whether they have disabilities, impairments, or other challenges. 

Within the field of universal design, seven principles – originating from North Carolina State University – have helped designers to better understand the concept. One of these principles is ‘equitable use’, which means all users should have the same means of use. Another is ‘perceptible information’, which focuses on the ability to access and perceive the necessary information and differentiate between design elements. 

Those who are involved with color management should try to frame their efforts in assisting color blind users within the wider context of universal design. Of course, this also means balancing the competing needs of people with a diverse range of difficulties, disabilities, and obstacles to overcome to obtain or perceive information. 

Final Thoughts

Color management helps to control the ways in which colors are perceived within visual media and to provide a consistent experience for all users across all devices. Previously, color blindness offered a significant challenge to this aim because some users perceive the same colors differently.  

Fortunately, monitor technology, such as color blind simulators and color blindness modes has come to help. Being part of universal design concept, they make it easier to provide a consistent and satisfying experience for every user, regardless of whether they have any color vision deficiencies or color blindness. 

If you liked this read, make sure to check What is a Color Gamut? or discover ViewSonic range of ColorPro monitors for digital artists.