Designing for colour blind people

Ever thought of how a colour blind person perceives the world? I wonder how many graphic designers (especially for functional things like webpages and book illustrations) take colour blindness into account in their design process.

I didn’t know anything about colour blindness until I did some researching last week. Apparently 1 in 12 people has some form of colour blindness and men are more likely to be colour blind than women. A colour blind friend of mine, who is very interested in art history and museums, sometimes speaks about how colour blindness changes the way he looks at art. The thought that he sees the art differently than most people, including the original creator, feels very frustrating.

Especially flat design (which is very in style at the moment) can be problematic for people with color blindness. Flat design consists of stylized vector images without any line-art. If you are colour blind, flat design can be a problem since there’s no border between two colours. Shapes that are clearly separate for people with perfect colour vision might be merged in the eyes of a person with colour blindness.
As a small test, I’ve taken one of my one flat designs and put it in the colour blindness simulator over at color-blindness.com. The left image is the ‘normal’ image, the right image is the image as seen by someone with ‘deuteranopia’ (red-green colour blindness):

colorblindness-birds-normal colorblindness-birds-deuteranopia

If you want to test yourself for colour blindness, you can do an Ishihara color blindness test at color-blindness.com as well.

Now I’m wondering: how can we make graphic design better, also taking into account that 1 in 12 (or: 11 in 12, if the designer is colour blind!) people might not perceive the things we make the same way as we do?

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