On Being Colourblind

Some of you that know me already know I am colourblind. It's never been something I advertise, and means I cannot be a firefighter nor a pilot (amongst other things). My teachers realised I was colourblind waaaay back when I was five or six years old, and back then (1981/1982 ish!) there was no routine testing for it in schools. The only reason the teachers picked up on it, was that my drawings and colouring in was crap. Yellow Grass, Green Sky, Red Tree Bark - that kinda thing.

I suffered a lot through junior school (8-11 years old) with people taking the piss and giving me a hard time about it, so I stopped telling people. You can bumble on well enough - avoid colour quizes, use Crayola penicils (which have handy-dandy labels on them with the colour name!) and pay attention to what you SEE and not what you are told. Electrical Plugs, for example, you are taught:

  • Blue Left
  • Brown Right
  • Leftovers Up
Of course, I don't see a blue wire, it's an odd green. Brown is invariably red, and the leftovers don't matter, so you have to re-educate yourself somewhat.

Once me and and Jo started dating, I never told her for a while. Probably a year or so after we started seeing one another. Why? Because I was so used to being ridiculed for it, I kept it quiet. Stupid, I know, but that's what happens. I didn't want to tell people because I didn't want them to laugh at me. Anyways, I told Jo and her parents, and she and Fran were fine - Jo's dad still takes the piss to this day. Meh. Some of my friends that I've told over the years are either fine or they take the piss, but I think I've developed a thick skin over it. I let them take the piss till their heart is content, and then when they need something doing, they can wait - especially computer repairs! Hey, not my loss!

Board games - which Jo's parents love to play - are a nightmare for me, especially the ones that rely on colour. It's all well and good having to get the light blue cube into the box before the light green cube - but when they look the same, you can't plan a strategy.

Anyways - after a conversation on Minge's blog, it occurs to people how many people don't understand colourblindness. Even people that have known for years about me hold something in my face and ask "what do you see that as" and it's hard to respond. If they show me a field, I KNOW the grass is green, but how I see it, and how you see it are two completely different things. Colourblindness doesn't mean I don't or can't see colour, I just see them differently - my eyes and brain process them differently.

One of the tests they do these days is the Ishihara Test, which is a circle of coloured blobs. Now, if you're not colourblind and you look at them, you will see numbers in the circles. Different types of colour blindness will see either a different number or nothing but blobs. Yes, I will wait while you go and look at the dots...

*twiddles thumbs*

Have fun? OK? OK, here's another one over at Wikipedia with a different kind of test down the side of the page.

*twiddles thumbs*

And lastly, to get an idea of what we might see (though I am not sure how accurate it is) there is this site. The picture in the middle as some options down the side of it - hover your cursor over the different names and get an idea of what that person sees.

As for me, well, I've been told I have either Deutan or Tritan variations of colourblindness. Don't worry, it doesn't mean much to me either. There's no easy fix or quick cure, so I just get on with it. But, if someone you know announces they are colourblind - don't play the "What colour is this?" game, as you will either make them feel stupid, or make them angry. Just keep in your mind they might see:
  • The Sun a different colour
  • The Sky a different colour
  • Your painted walls a different shade
  • Traffic Lights different (Instead of Red/Yellow/Green, I see Red/Red/Blue!)
  • Wiring a nightmare of colours
  • The London Underground Tube map Hell on Earth (well, London ;)

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One Response to “On Being Colourblind”

Anonymous said...

that small fraction of females must include me...
I dont see a 5 or a 2
and can read less then half of those other circles.