How to create content for people with colour-blindness

As we move towards creating more diversity, equity and inclusivity in the workplace, it is important to bear in mind that there are many elements to evaluate when you work towards making your organization an inclusive workplace. For instance, having DE&I policies is not just about hiring diverse talent and treating them fairly (obviously, that is extremely important too).

It is also about improving processes to make them more inclusive. One way for an inclusive culture is to make office documents and collaterals colorblind-friendly to create equal access.

Inclusivity in the Workplace: People with Color Blindness 

Why should you be more inclusive for color-blind people?

Color blindness is a lot more common than many people might think. According to EnChroma, estimates point to a whopping 330 million people affected by CVD (color vision deficiency) around the world (which is 4% of the population, or the same amount as the entire population of the United States).

It is typically inherited genetically and carried recessively on the X chromosome, which is why CVD affects mainly men (about one in 12 men versus about one in 200 women). And this is primarily for those with red-green color blindness (“deutan-type” and “proton-type” vision deficiency).  

Less precise figures are known for blue-yellow color deficiency, most often caused by progressive or age-related eye conditions, with estimates placing the total number at least as high as those for red-green color blindness. This means the real figure could be upwards of 600 million people and growing rapidly, with populations worldwide ageing at a much faster rate. 

How are people with CVD affected?

While many people may consider CVD to be a “less mild” disability, studies show that 2 in 3 people with CVD feel it is a “handicap” (EnChroma). Consider some basic things in our day-to-day lives that are experienced very differently for those with CVD who see as few as 10% of the colors those with regular vision are able to see: many of them can’t tell when a power switch changes color, and are surprised to find out that peanut butter is not green and that a rainbow has more than two colors.

How someone who is colourblind view colours

         Normal Vision                              Protanopia                          Tritanopia  

Image Source: Color Blind Awareness UK

Now consider what life for a person with CVD is like in the workplace; for instance, when trying to make sense of graphs that use colors to heat map or organize data. In fact, 90% of people with CVD say it affects them at work, and 75% say they need help to verify colors from coworkers (EnChroma).

How can you be more inclusive of people with CVD? 

Although there is no cure or treatment for inherited color blindness, there are a number of things that color-blind people can do to cope.

While many adults with CVD are often excluded from certain jobs depending on the country where they live (for example, airline pilot, graphic designer, and electrician), in many jobs, a person with CVD can find creative strategies to perform color-dependent tasks, such as identifying colors by using an app or by asking their colleagues for help. It is important that you have created an inclusive environment within your place of work that makes asking for help less daunting.

More specifically, however, when creating documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, there are a number of CVD-inclusive things you can do (such as what we have done with our recent report, Company Culture: Reset, Refocus, Reshape).  

Here are three fantastic resources that our design team found particularly useful:

8 Ways to Design a Color Blind Friendly Website

How to Use Color Blind Friendly Palettes to Make Your Charts Accessible 

5 tips on designing colorblind-friendly visualizations 

Finally, if you are uncertain as to whether you have CVD or not, we would highly recommend EnChroma’s Color Blind Test, which takes less than a minute to complete.

Read more:
How to hire to improve gender diversity in the workplace
A culture of employee recognition contributes to talent retention
How to be more confident at work according to Asia's female leaders

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