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Color Blind Friendly Color Palettes

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

We have a significant affinity for vision, and color permeates the visual fabric of our world. In this lesson, we'll talk about color blindness, what it is, and a color palette that can help those that have it.

The Color of Your World

We rely heavily on our vision. For most people, it provides the greatest amount of information about what is going on around us. As a result, our world provides many visual cues that are easy for us to recognize. We use brightly colored signs and lights to control vehicle traffic, we are entertained by the stunning visuals of the latest blockbuster movie, and we peruse brightly lit displays when we purchase items off the shelf at our favorite store. But for some, these activities can be a problem because they don't see color properly. They are color blind.

What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness is an affliction that affect a person's ability to discern certain colors. It is also known as Color Vision Deficiency (CVD). In most, it is hereditary, but for others, it can be caused by diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or medication. There are three basic types of color blindness; protanomaly which is difficulty seeing red, deuteranomaly which is difficulty seeing green, and tritanomaly which is difficulty seeing blue. Combinations are possible. As an example, the most frequently occurring color blindness is red/green. One common misconception is the color blind people can't see a specific color. Rather, they can't see any color that has that color component. For example, people that can't see red/green also won't see pink, brown, and purple correctly.

What is a Color Palette?

A color palette is the set of colors used to display something. For example, the colors a painter uses in their latest masterpiece, or the colors used to render the television commercial you are watching. You probably don't know it, but there is a color palette associated with everything we see. It is estimated that a healthy person can see 10 million of different colors. As you might imagine, display technology is limited to significantly less than that. Think of the number of paint colors, a few hundred different tubes, and perhaps a few thousands with mixing. Or the capabilities of our computer monitors or televisions, which is in the 2 million range.

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