Colour blind people face many difficulties in everyday life which normally sighted people just aren’t aware of. Problems can arise in even the simplest of activities including choosing and preparing food, gardening, sport, driving a car and selecting which clothes to wear. Colour blind people can also find themselves in trouble because they haven’t been able to pick up a change in someone’s mood by a change in colour of their face, or not noticed their child getting sunburnt.
Colour blindness can affect access to education, exam grades and career choice.
Here are a just a few examples of typical, everyday problems:-
Most red/green colour blind people won’t know if they’ve cooked a piece of meat rare or well done and they’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between green and ripe tomatoes or between ketchup and chocolate sauce.
Colour blind people often try to eat unripe bananas because they can’t tell the difference between a green unripe banana and a yellow ripe banana – to them because both of the colours are the same shade they often think they are the same colour.
Some food can look repulsive if you are colour blind, and colour blind children can seem particularly fussy over green vegetables – spinach can look like cow pat and colour blind children probably mean it if they say their food looks like poo!
Colour blind people can get very frustrated with electrical goods which have red/green/orange LED displays to indicate either that a battery needs charging or the machine is on standby. All these colours can appear to be orange. An example might be a handheld games console with an indicator light which changes from red to green depending upon whether the unit is fully charged or needs recharging. This can be extremely annoying!
In the UK society doesn’t generally think of colour blindness as a disability, but in most cases colour blindness should be considered to be a disability and therefore employers, schools and businesses must treat colour blindness in the same way they would any other disability. Unfortunately the Guidance Notes to the Equality Act 2010 are misleading but the Government Equalities Office recognises colour blindness can be a disability, despite this ambiguity. The Department for Work and Pensions agrees that the Guidance Notes require amendment. For more information please contact us.
In other cultures colour blindness may be regarded as a defect. In Japan, for example, colour blind people are excluded from a number of careers and in some communist countries colour blind people are not permitted to drive because they are not always able to read coloured lights correctly.
Worldwide relatively little research has been done into the effects of colour blindness in everyday life. This is because until now the general population has been unaware of the difficulties that colour blindness can cause on a daily basis. Society has therefore on the whole treated colour blind people no differently to people with normal colour vision. This needs to change – colour blind people learn to manage but this doesn’t mean that their needs can be ignored.
Colour Blind Awareness aims to increase awareness of the needs of colour blind people in everyday life. A few areas of industry, transport services and the armed forces are probably the only areas where it is accepted that colour blindness could potentially cause problems and it is recognised that there are certain types of job which the colour blind are not suited to, mostly for safety reasons. In most instances an employer must take reasonable steps to accommodate employees with CVD.
In business, despite it being to their own detriment, the majority of organisations don’t take account of whether all of their target audience can read or understand most of the documents or presentations which they produce. Amazingly hardly any businesses have yet to realise that they may be missing out on about 5% of their target markets because they are not aware of the effects of colour blindness. See the business section for further details.
But by far the most important oversight is the plight of colour blind school children who are left to struggle in the classroom due to lack of awareness of the effects of their disability by both their parents and teachers. The UK Government recognises that colour blindness can be a Special Educational Need and a disability but provides no advice or support for schools, teachers and parents. Teachers are not given any training on the issue of colour blindness or upon how to treat colour blind children in a school environment. Colour blind children can face discrimination in GCSE and A Level exam papers too. In Summer 2017, for example, several exam papers had sections which were inaccessible to students with CVD.
Colour blindness will also affect career choice but colour blind school leavers aren’t usually given careers advice which includes information about which careers they may find it difficult or impossible to follow. Often dreams are shattered when a dream job can’t be pursued because a pupil has never been diagnosed, so when they fail am Army medical or don’t meet the colour vision standards to become a pilot this can also have psychological consequences.