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What is Color Blindness and How Does Technology Help?

What is color blindness? While this is not a new question, as we spend more time online, interacting with businesses through a screen is becoming more common. In light of this, making sure everyone can engage with the digital experiences offered by brands is increasingly important. Accessibility is taking center stage in user experience and user interface design so that people with color blindness can access the same information as those without. Thankfully the rise of digital experiences has been mirrored by an increase in technological solutions for people with color blindness, which is what we dive into below.

If you’d like to learn more about what color blindness is, and how technology can help, then read on. Or to check out our range of ColorPro monitors with colorblindness features, click here.

Color blindness is one condition in particular that can really impact someone’s online experience, and a company’s ability to connect with them in a meaningful way. With ever-increasing technological advancement and more immersive experiences becoming the new norm, designing for accessibility in today’s digital environment has become more important than ever.

While there are several solutions on offer today that aim to address these issues, color blindness itself is not quite as simple a condition as its name implies.

Around 4% of the population experince some kind of colorblindness

What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness is a condition that causes an individual to perceive colors in a different way than a normally sighted person might. It can mean not seeing the full spectrum of colors clearly, or that some colors are harder to tell apart than others. It can be inherited or occur as a result of eye, nerve, or brain damage.

This is a result of how the human eye captures light which is then transformed into images in our brains. It all happens in a part of the eye called the retina.

The human retina is a layer comprised of a complex array of sensors known as rods and cones. Rods are responsible for light sensitivity, which is perceived in greyscale, while cones are responsible for perceiving color. The condition is somewhat inaccurately named as being color blind does not necessarily entail that someone sees the world in black and while.

While around 4% of the population experience some kind of colorblindness, not all people experience it in the same way. A more accurate term is known as color vision deficiency (CVD) because most people who are colorblind are actually able to see colors in some form or another.

How the Eye See Color

Different Types of Color Blindness

Contrary to popular belief, colorblindness does not necessarily mean that someone is completely unable to see color. In fact, there are a number of different types of color blindness that have varying effects on a person’s ability to discern and differentiate between colors. They include:

Red-green Color Blindness

The most common type of color blindness makes it hard to tell the difference between red and green. There are 4 types of red-green color blindness, which affects the way individuals perceive the combination of red and green.

Deuteranomaly is a type of color blindness that makes green appear redder. While it is a fairly mild type that doesn’t have an overly detrimental impact on normal day-to-day activities, it is the most common.

Protanomaly is also relatively minor in its effect, although it has the opposite effect, it makes red look greener and duller.

The other two types of red-green color blindness are protanopia and deuteranopia, which prevent the individual from being able to tell the difference between red and green at all.

Blue-yellow Color Blindness

This type of color blindness is less common and makes it hard to tell the difference between blue and green, and between yellow and red. Within this group, there are two types:

Tritanomaly makes it difficult to distinguish the difference between blue and green, and between yellow and red, while tritanopia makes the individual unable to tell the difference between blue and green, purple and red, and yellow and pink. It also mutes colors, making them appear less bright.

Complete Color Blindness

The last and least common type of color blindness is known as complete color blindness, which prevents the discerning of any color at all. This is also known as monochromacy. This can also cause you to be more sensitive to light, and to have trouble seeing clearly.

Color Blindness and Technology

People who deal with colorblindness or CVD can have a markedly different experience when it comes to the online world. This is particularly important when thinking about UX/UI design as the likelihood of them missing important information – such as call to action buttons – while on the web is higher than most.

As life becomes increasingly digital, more focus is being placed on user experience and user-centered design. Alongside this shift, design for accessibility has become something that designers and developers need to be more aware of. Luckily, there are a number of technological solutions available on the market today to help people who suffer from color blindness or CVD, some of these include:

  • Special contact lenses or glasses – these can help people dealing with color blindness to better tell the difference between colors.
  • Software, hardware, and visual aids – there are an increasing number of apps, online simulators, and computer monitors that can help individuals who are color blind better discern between different colors, and designers to better understand how someone affected by color blindness perceives colorful images.

Some companies are at the forefront of this, taking a proactive approach in developing technology to better support people dealing with color blindness, and professionals wishing to design with greater accessibility in mind.

vDisplay Manager improves your productivity and puts the On-Screen Display (OSD) Menu controls on your monitor’s screen. Here you can quickly and easily adjust the monitor’s display, increase user experience, and make your viewing experience more comfortable.

ViewSonic partners with TUV to help tackle color blindness

Late last year, ViewSonic Europe partnered with TÜV SÜD to establish a new testing method for the electronics industry. ViewSonic has incorporated two features into the vDisplay Manager, a product designed to improve your productivity by putting the On-Screen Display (OSD) Menu controls on your monitor’s screen. Here you can quickly and easily adjust the monitor’s display, alter color settings, and make your viewing experience more comfortable.

Included in vDisplay Manager is a Color Mode for users with CVD, which acts to alter the colors displayed on-screen, enabling colorblind users to see up to 20% more colors, a full 10% more than other monitor solutions.

They’ve also developed Simulator Mode, an application that enables designers and creators to better understand how the people dealing with color blindness may perceive color in everyday life, and within digital environments, in order to better deliver a color-blindness friendly experience in their work.

“TÜV SÜD is focused on providing safety, security, and sustainability solutions within organizations. TÜV SÜD and ViewSonic have taken the lead to define a new set of testing methods for the compatibility of monitors with color vision deficiency features. This revolutionary approach helps ensure that user enhancement is being accurately evaluated. It is a first for any monitor brand. We were happy to work with our partner ViewSonic on such a groundbreaking feature,” said Alex von Mylius, product certification director at TÜV SÜD Global Product Service Division.

If you’d like to check out ViewSonic’s range of monitors implementing this technology, click here.

Color Accuracy on Computer Monitors

With all this in mind, how can we go about ensuring that our computer monitors are color accurate and that the work we’re creating is done so with accessibility in mind for people suffering from one form of color blindness or another?

One of the first steps we can take is to calibrate our computer monitors, to ensure that our displays are color accurate to being with. This is important because up to 75% of all computers do not display colors accurately on screen. However, there are a few things we can do to combat this.

  1. Adjust the brightness and intensity settings on your computer monitor.
  2. Make sure your monitor control panels are set to the maximum number of colors possible. Some video cards or computer systems may default to 16 or 256 colors, but depending on your monitor, you may have many more colors available.
  3. Invest in a good display. This can have a drastic effect on the colors you perceive from your monitor, colors can appear brighter, richer, and more accurate.
  4. Purchase a computer that has gamma correction and compatibility built-in and that supports calibration software.
  5. Be sure to do some research before making any purchase decision to make sure that all of the different components of your setup are able to work together to provide the most accurate results. For example, some video or graphics cards are specifically designed for gaming, meaning they won’t give you the optimum performance for color reproduction.

Tips for Improving Color Accuracy On Monitors

Final Thoughts on Color Blindness and Technology

Colorblindness is not quite what first meets the eye, but with a greater understanding of what it is, and the challenges people with colorblindness face, designers and other creatives can better design with accessibility in mind. Advancements in technology have come a long way, both people dealing with color blindness, and professionals wanting to design for them. it’s safe to say there is a lot more on offer for helping to make this process easier than ever before. ViewSonic is proud to partner with TÜV SÜD to help lead the charge towards a more inclusive and accessible future.

If color accuracy and accessibility is important to you and the work you do, check out ViewSonic’s range of Pantone validated professional monitors. If you’re interested, you can learn more about achieving color accuracy with computer monitors.