Colour me blind
March 6, 2003 10:36 AM   Subscribe

A set of 24 colour blindness tests I picked up this link from the comments in another forum, somebody mentioned they were colour blind and provided a link to these tests. Interestingly the colour blind can also see stuff that normally sighted people can't. [more inside]
posted by substrate (40 comments total)
I'm not colour blind, but I thought the tests and the descriptions of the
tests were really interesting. I had always known that colour blind people
can't differentiate between certain colours that are the same intensity. I
didn't know that they could actually see other things that people with
normal vision couldn't, for instance this example here.

Maybe the colour blind could start a conspiracy involving hidden messages that nobody else can see.

It's interesting that what we perceive as a perceptual disability can actually
also mean that the sufferer can perceive things that we can't.
posted by substrate at 10:37 AM on March 6, 2003

Cool. Web designers take note.
posted by carter at 10:45 AM on March 6, 2003

Nstuff. Those blessed with photoshop can open these tests and play around to see what the colorblind person sees. This one, for example. If you turn off the red and green channels, you'll see the #5, whereas just converting the image to greyscale won't show you anything. (you'll have to convert the images to RGB color first before you can play around with channels.)
posted by GeekAnimator at 10:57 AM on March 6, 2003

err... "Nstuff" = "Neat stuff". twitchy fingers.
posted by GeekAnimator at 10:59 AM on March 6, 2003

substrate, this is interesting stuff, especially the point about "disability" ...but I'm wondering just how useful the "additional" perception would be in perceiving anything other than pre-coded information. It's not exactly analogous to being blind and having enhanced spatial hearing, for example.

And GeekAnimator, what, you can't upload the photoshopped version so we can see it? (Actually, I'd like to see one with the saturation selectively turned down on red and green so I can go back and forth between seeing it and not seeing it.)
posted by soyjoy at 11:03 AM on March 6, 2003

I realize it's not necessarily useful, I just find it interesting that there's something that people without colour blindness can see that we can't. It's sort of like after I had lasik done on my eyes, the first time I put on a good pair of polarized sunglasses I was amazed. They let me see things that I hadn't seen before such as stress in glass or plastic. It's an absolutely useless thing (in general anyway) but it was neat to notice it.
posted by substrate at 11:16 AM on March 6, 2003

I was a little bit wary clicking through these, as I wasn't sure if it was something like this color blindness test or not.

Those secret color blind messages are cool, though. I played with a couple in photoshop, and couldn't get them to come out clearly. There's probably a whole color blind underground that we normally sighted people have no idea about.

I for one welcome blah blah blah...
posted by majcher at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2003

Due to differing monitors and differing color palettes and differing graphics cards and differing this a test that can be reliably duplicated over the Internet?
posted by mathis23 at 11:31 AM on March 6, 2003

This isn't the sabotage thing with the bloody demon woman with knives, is it? Anything that tries lull me and then get me to lean close to the screen is to be avoided these days...
posted by Scoo at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2003

*sigh* my poor aching server...

posted by GeekAnimator at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2003

I'm red-green colorblind, and so is my mom (colorblindness is rare among women). For the curious, here are a couple sample images that simulate what the world looks like to the colorblind. Also, here's a site that converts images and websites to simulate colorblindness.
posted by waxpancake at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2003

I wonder what Madam Tetrachromat thinks of all this.
posted by yonderboy at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2003

also, if your monitor sux, these will vary.
posted by DBAPaul at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2003

soyjoy said:
substrate, this is interesting stuff, especially the point about "disability" ...but I'm wondering just how useful the "additional" perception would be in perceiving anything other than pre-coded information. It's not exactly analogous to being blind and having enhanced spatial hearing, for example.

I have a cousin who is completely color blind. He works for a contractor that does work with the NRO analyzing satellite photography. In his case, his disability makes him especially useful for picking out "camoflaged" objects and/or encampments. He has an enhanced ability of pattern recognition.
posted by Lafe at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2003

I often confuse the words "green" and "orange" for some reason. I see them both clearly, but if I'm asked to identify either colour very quickly, I'll often say the wrong one then correct myself. So what does that make me? Besides a little stupid on occassion, that is...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2003

Wow, this has been fascinating. As an artist i've always been curious about how everyone perceives colour. The Madame Tetrachromat answered a lot of the questions I had and seemed to say that chances are we all experience color VERY differently.

Thank you substrate and yonderboy.
posted by untuckedshirts at 12:24 PM on March 6, 2003

Lafe, I stand corrected. I guess you could say I lacked the "vision" to see how this could be useful in everyday activities.

Geekanimator, I was really just teasing, but thanks for doing that! As I suspected, if I look at the middle one after the color one, I can't see the five, but if I look at the one on the right for a while, I believe I can pick it out in the middle one. But I don't know if that's just a mental illusion...
posted by soyjoy at 12:28 PM on March 6, 2003

majcher: that was by far the scariest of those things I've ever seen. You'll be hearing from my lawyers re: cost of drycleaning my trousers.
posted by squealy at 12:29 PM on March 6, 2003

I "suffer" from color-blindness, and I just want to let everybody know that, while I see the same number in GeekAnimator's "original" and "Blue Channel Only" images, they do not look the same. One thing I often find myself explaining to people who aren't colorblind is that yes, I can see colors -- I just don't perceive them the same way as most other folks.

After learning about the function of the cones in the retina, I'm not convinced that any human being (even a tetrachromat) can see color "perfectly". For any pair of eyes, there's bound to be certain wavelengths in the visible spectrum that don't resolve well.
posted by Eamon at 12:37 PM on March 6, 2003

I always knew I had mild deuteranomalia, but I haven't been able to prove it until now.

Thanks once again, MeFi, for helping me prove that, indeed, I am themanwhoknowsmostthings......

(conceited grin)

ps-manwhoknows never remembers how to properly do brackets, so he cheats and uses parentheses instead.

posted by TheManWhoKnowsMostThings at 12:39 PM on March 6, 2003

After reading Eamon's comments and some of the links, I should point out that it was probably innaccurate of me to imply that removing different color channels in photoshop would let you see what a colorblind person sees. the sample images that waxpancake linked to are much more informative for that.

oh yeah, and that madam tetrachromat article was fascinating. would've been worthy of a post itself.
posted by GeekAnimator at 12:48 PM on March 6, 2003

You're not the only one who thinks that, GeekAnimator: old thread.
posted by Eamon at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2003

have we mefi-ed visicheck? oh well...
posted by twine42 at 1:30 PM on March 6, 2003

Yay! I have "deuteranopia".

Obviously that's "Yay" as in finally I have a name for my (admittedly rather underwhelming) condition, rather than yay, I have a condition.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2003

Slate's current series on "the quest to build better people" has an article about scientific efforts to improve vision, including genetic engineering to give tetrachromatic vision to people with normal eyesight, and "cyborg eyes" to let blind people see.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2003

I'm none too pleased with the use of "disability" in association with color blindness. I have to take a physical exam every few years for my volunteer fire department. Every time, they make me take the color blindness test, despite the fact that I've failed every one in the past. And I fail. Then they make a note on the report back to the department that I should never be put into a situation where my inability to perceive colors correctly would place anyone in danger. Oh well.
posted by tommasz at 1:42 PM on March 6, 2003

That test actually used to (Don't know if it still happens) be used to test Danish children for color blindness in school. Have looked at those a couple of times.
posted by tonelesscereal at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2003

I am red/green colourblind. As a child (of about 8 or 9) I once visited an art gallery on a school trip. During this visit we had questionnaires to complete: "What colour did Monet use on the trees?", "What colours can you see in the water?" etc etc. Naturally, I failed miserably at these questions.

However, towards the end of the trip we came upon a painting. When questioned, I confidently stated that "the trees were painted by someone else". The guide was completely flabbergasted. This was apparently an entirely accurate statement, yet there is no way I could possibly have known this. On this occasion, seeing colour differently to other people gave me a unique insight.

Oh, and the first person to say "Oh you're colourblind ... what colour's this then?" gets a punch in the mouth.
posted by saintsguy at 3:15 PM on March 6, 2003

So, if you're not colorblind, are you supposed to be able to see the "wrong" numbers and paths, peeking through a little bit? Can you be a little bit blue-green colorblind?
posted by duckstab at 3:41 PM on March 6, 2003

Whoa, I am extremely colorblind, and a web designer. Could someone with better genetics than me make sure my site isn't a chromatic mess?
posted by jdaura at 4:52 PM on March 6, 2003

Eh, I think maybe my comment may seem gratutious, that's not my intention. I really am colorblind, I couldn't see a lot of those numbers, and now I'm wondering if it makes a massive difference in my everyday life. Is the world of the slightly colorblind a less full world?
posted by jdaura at 6:02 PM on March 6, 2003

For those who are interested in complete colorblindness, there is book by Dr. Oliver Sacks (remember the movie awakenings? based on one of his books) called the Island of the Colorblind. It details his trip to a tiny island where completely colorblind people make up 15% of the population. He also details advantages that colorblind people have over "normals." (for more info on the book or the good doctor you can go to his official website
posted by miss-lapin at 6:48 PM on March 6, 2003 [1 favorite]

I am not colourblind however if I look closely at the tests its easy to see the variations in color that the colour blind are supposed to pick up.
- Its not like they can see stuff we can't - they just aren't distracted by the "obvious" colour variations.
posted by mary8nne at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2003

Hey waxpancake.....My mother is also colorblind (while niether I nor any of my sisters or brother are). Thats the first time I have ever heard of another female that is colorblind in my whole life (Not that I guess it comes up in conversation all that much.). But that does point out how really rare it is in women. I wonder if anyone has a link to how really rare that is?
posted by SweetIceT at 7:21 PM on March 6, 2003

Never mind I found a link that says "10 million American men...7 percent of the population....only .4 percent of the female population" are color blind.
posted by SweetIceT at 7:27 PM on March 6, 2003

Jdaura, your site looks quite nice to me...
posted by halonine at 9:37 PM on March 6, 2003

I am so red-green color blind.

Thanks MeFi for informing me of a problem I never knew I had.
posted by EmoChild at 10:46 PM on March 6, 2003

Jdaura, no major problems for me to report either.

But.... on an honest personal opinion on the colours.... I'm not 100% sure that the lime green goes well with the light blue. But that's just my opinion. And yes, that means I think the metafiler colour scheme is a little ugly. So what? :-)

And I have no right to complain. My last hand-done drawing (from about 2 years ago) had people asking me if it was something I drew in kindergarten. If only... I couldn't even get stick figures right!

BTW: The paintball mock-up site is boss!
posted by shepd at 3:20 AM on March 7, 2003

I had a hell of a time with the last four plates.

BTW, I have a devil of a time differentiating among certain hues of blue, purple and indigo -- "Hey, are those jeans purple?" "No, they're just new."
posted by alumshubby at 7:49 AM on March 7, 2003

I feel that this is an appropriate moment to mention Squant, the fourth primary color.
posted by esch at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2003

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