Why it's important to design for the colour blind


There are too many accessibility tools across numerous disciplines to

mention. However, I want to highlight some that captured my interest

and will benefit everyone, especially designers.


Okay,story time. One of my hobbies is gaming; I have been gaming for a

long time, and it hadn’t occurred to me that there were others out

there who could not enjoy it in the same way, or not really be able

to. This was until I ran into someone, let’s call him Allan, in one

of the gaming lobbies. Allan is colorblind; we had a chat and I was

surprised to hear that he struggled to differentiate the various

elements in the game–he could not tell what was a common item

(green) and what was rare (yellow). Rare items are the items you

chase after in a game.


Normal View of Game Loot

Colour blind view


After that experience, I began to look into the issue of accessibility in

video games. I found that some games, like Destiny, do in fact have

colorblind support, which allowed me to experience the game from

Allan’s point of view.


Accessibility in design has been gaining traction in recent years as society seeks

to build more inclusive products, services and systems. Consequently,

inclusive design is becoming a major driving force for innovation

thus numerous types of devices and software are being created with

accessibility in mind. These are referred to as accessibility tools.


This got me thinking about physical disability more so in the gaming

space. I found that most companies had not taken huge strides in this

area, not until Microsoft released its adaptive controller. This is a

device that makes gaming more accessible because it is designed to

meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. Microsoft worked with

other companies such as Quadstick to design a controller for

quadriplegics, which can also be integrated with the adaptive

controller. This gave me hope and left me with a question, how could

we leverage technology to empower differently abled people in our

communities?

Normal view of game enemies

Colour blind view of game enemies


A couple of years later, I entered the design space. The more I

explored design the more I realized that inclusive and sustainable

design is good design, and that is the future. I then asked myself,

‘Are there design tools that help designers be more inclusive in

their work?’ Good news, there are MANY. Color Oracle, for example,

simulates how a color-blind person would perceive your design. It

uses an algorithm for simulating color vision impairment; best part

is that it’s free! More examples include Toptal’s color filter

and Stark.


Other tools such as Voice-over help users navigate through apps and systems

verbally. There are also tools known as contrast analyzers that will

evaluate how you contrast color, which helps ease strain on one’s

eyes. These include Polypane color contrast checker, color review and

Tanaguru contrast finder––just to name a few. Other honorable

mentions: Contraste, ColoBox, Hex Naw, Colorable, Goodmaps Explore,

Mundra band, Shoe Horn, The A11y Machine, We are Colorblind, Axe

Chrome plugin, etc.


Evidently, with the power of the internet, information is at our fingertips.

There are countless accessibility tools out there. Inclusive design

is definitely vital to the growth and evolution of humanity. If we

want to have a better world, we must include as many people as

possible.