When my son Andrew was four years old his pre-school teacher told me that he was having trouble understanding simple patterns. I was already concerned that he couldn’t always identify colors correctly. Were these signs of a learning disability, or was it something else?

Image by Georgia Gray

Guest Article: A Mother’s Journey into Colorblindness

When my son Andrew was four years old his pre-school teacher told me that he was having trouble understanding simple patterns. I was already concerned that he couldn’t always identify colors correctly. Were these signs of a learning disability, or was it something else?

This is a guest article by Karen Levine, she is the author of the book All About Color Blindness: A Guide to Color Vision Deficiency for Kids (and Grown-ups Too).

“Do you think he could be colorblind?” I asked his teacher. Her eyebrows went up. “Now that you mention it, that could be it.”

Our pediatrician didn’t have a color vision test, and referred me to an optometrist.

The optometrist showed my four-year-old a book of pictures with shapes. These shapes would apparently not be visible to the colorblind. When they were finished, the doctor informed me that Andrew was red-green color deficient, or colorblind.

As I was trying to remember all the questions I wanted to ask, he was saying, “It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

I was relieved to know that Andrew had a seemingly minor vision problem, and not a learning deficit but I wasn’t sure it didn’t matter. From my experience with my two older children, colors
were an integral part of the early education curriculum. I wanted to know if Andrew would be at a disadvantage when he started kindergarten. I wanted to know how he saw the world.

I began to learn more about color blindness. Traveling through libraries, bookstores and the Internet, I tried to extract practical information from the maze of scientific books and articles.
Very few publications were written in layman’s terms, addressing the day-to-day issues of the colorblind.

A Different View of the World

I grew up with a colorblind father. My mother helped him match his clothes. He was restricted from choosing paint colors. And he occasionally needed some immediate assistance in determining the color of a traffic light. But those obstacles seemed to pale in comparison to the extremely color-oriented world that Andrew was going to face in kindergarten.

Andrew can usually recognize a vibrant red or green but not lighter or duller hues. For instance, he can tell you the fire truck is red, but if you ask him to draw a picture of it, he could easily choose a brown crayon.
Andrew made me a Valentine with a beautiful heart colored with forest green. He drew a pickle with a brown crayon. Sometimes those rosy faces he loves to draw are actually lime green. If you don’t know your child is colorblind, this kind of artwork can be puzzling.

Coping at Home

The most important goal for me, and for any parent I think, is to have a happy, confident child. I was never concerned that colorblindness itself would be extremely limiting for Andrew. However, I did
recognize that it had the potential to do some serious damage to his self-confidence.
How many times already was he told he was wrong when he chose a color, or completed a pattern, or moved to a space on a game board? It might not seem catastrophic to an adult, but to a child these repeated situations can be disturbing.

A colorblind child has no frame of reference to say, “Maybe I can’t see that color,” or “Maybe those are different colors that look the same to me.” A child’s natural reaction would be, “I must not be smart enough to know that.”

The solution was awareness. I told Andrew matter-of-factly that he had a special way of seeing colors. It wasn’t bad; it was just different. I told him that if he was ever confused about colors, he could just say so, and ask for help.
I let Andrew know that there were many people who were colorblind, including his grandfather. When the family was together, we talked about it casually.

Andrew’s older brother and sister asked him questions about it. Andrew was happy that they thought it was “really cool.” It was important that we kept the discussion light. Andrew was put at ease because we treated as an interesting circumstance, and not as an earth-shattering condition.

Coping in School

When Andrew started kindergarten, I wrote a letter to his teacher to let her know that he was colorblind, and explained some of the ways that he could confuse colors. I didn’t expect her to get busy changing all the color-coded material in the classroom. I did at least want her to understand right away if Andrew told her he was confused.

I followed up with a conference (without Andrew) and pointed out some of the areas in the classroom that might be a problem. She reacted very positively, and promised to keep an open mind when it came to Andrew and colors.

I was surprised to learn that she, and almost all the other teachers I’ve spoken to since, knew very little about color blindness. A veteran teacher told me, “I’ve never had a colorblind child.”
About one out of twelve boys and one out of 200 girls are color blind. I thought, you’ve probably had one every year!

Andrew’s teacher and I worked together. During a brief stop in the classroom, I noticed the pictures on November’s calendar were demonstrating a pattern… brown turkey, orange turkey, brown turkey, orange turkey.

I offered to create new pictures for each day. I substituted a pilgrim’s hat for the orange turkey, creating a pattern that was easier for Andrew to identify: turkey, hat, turkey, hat.

During the scheduled parent-teacher conference, I was very pleased with Andrew’s academic and social progress. I was also delighted to find out that Andrew spoke up on more than one occasion to ask for help with colors. Once, Andrew handed an assignment to the classroom aide, who told him it was the wrong color.
He explained that he was colorblind, and shrugged off the mistake. Andrew asked the same aide to line up the crayons for him when he wanted to draw a rainbow. He was also overheard asking friends to help him with color choices.

I felt that all that time and effort had paid off. I had a great kid with a terrific attitude. I’m sure there were times when he was confused or at a disadvantage because of color usage. If he couldn’t make out the cherries on George Washington’s cherry tree, he wouldn’t understand that it was because of his color vision. But Andrew seemed to be able to compensate. His selfconfidence was intact.

The Bigger Picture

I was just reaching around to pat myself on the back, when I realized that it wasn’t enough. What about all the other students in the school, or even in the district?

I started writing stories that would help kids, parents and teachers understand colorblindness. I hired an illustrator and produced and published the book myself. All About Color Blindness: A Guide to CVD for Kids (and Grown-ups too) tells the story of Corey, a boy who struggles in Kindergarten because of his color vision deficiency. Along the way, Corey learns coping skills and keeps a positive attitude.

So many years later, my amazing son Andrew is all grown up. He’s been hurdling color obstacles throughout his life and he always will be. But he’s developed a good set of coping skills.

I asked him if he ever had trouble with Chemistry experiments and he implied it was a matter of course to depend on a lab partner. I asked him if he told his Chemistry teacher about his color vision and he said, “No.” He probably didn’t want to deal with the queries that would entail or pronounce himself “different” from everyone else.

Even though so many of Andrew’s classmates share the same condition, I believe there’s still a stigma involved with colorblindness and this, of course, is due to a lack of awareness.

As an adult, Andrew’s career choices will be limited, and it’s important that he knows it from the start. He probably can’t be a house painter, a geologist or a pilot. On the other hand, there is still a world of opportunity.

Among the many professions I know the colorblind have had are: salesperson, engineer, computer programmer, journalist, principal, and teacher (including an art teacher!). One woman told me her father worked for a cosmetics company. Apparently, he could tell the shades of lipstick better than anyone.

Parent’s Color Vision Checklist

If you suspect that your child is colorblind:

  • Have him or her evaluated by a professional. Before you make the appointment, make sure the office has a color vision test, and that it is appropriate for your child. If your child is not confident with numbers, there are tests that use shapes instead.

If your child is colorblind:

  • Don’t let anyone tell you it doens’t matter.
  • Make sure the teachers know. Start with a letter to the classroom teacher, explaining your child’s problem colors. Then follow up with a conference. Don’t forget to make contact with the art, music and gym teachers, and perhaps a reading teacher or occupational therapist if you use one. Remember, approaching a teacher as a partner is more effective than making demands.
  • Look around the classroom and give examples. Offer to help.
  • Communicate with your child honestly and matter-of-factly. Keep a sense of humor. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a different view of it.



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  4. Bree

    We just learned this afternoon that my son is colour blind….
    I was shocked when he was shown the coloured dot cards with numbers & asked what number he could see- he said ‘there’s not a number’ more cards & numbers, yet he still couldn’t see them… It broke my heart a little. I had always suspected he might be slightly colour blind, but now that we know we can inform kinder & I’ll be sure to let his prep teacher know next year…
    Thank you for the information you have provided

  5. Bhupinder

    I just read the article, too late for me to read it, But thanks for the nice article and it is very true, I am color blind and one of my cousin is too, we use to face this when our cousins made fun, I was even denied a job that is when I knew it, but then it was just to understand how I deal with situations, wearing glasses from childhood with color blindness, but then I learnt when there is a talk about colors anywhere and I am there, best is to just watch and don’t say anything, ask people in little different way so that it don’t give them impression that I don’t see colors even though I see colors differently and nobody know what I see. Thanks for the article and great effort to educate people.

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  8. Anthony

    she is excited for me to get to heeavn so I can see all of the colors that I missing out on right now. One thing I have learned is to be VERY careful when purchasing clothing that I think is blue. More than once it has turned out to be purple. Not funny.I have tons of stories about things that have happened, but the best I can say is that it is interesting. One of the biggest things I have to worry about are single, flashing lights. If there is no stop sign with it I usually run it.

  9. Rafael Cruz

    Hi I am a 32 year old male and I have been colorblind all my life. It was noticed by my teacher in first grade. Some of you are referring about colorblindness as a disability but honestly I can’t think of it being a big deal or “disabling”. Granted I will never fly a plane or work with electric cables, traffic lights are memorized based on location; top is red, middle yellow and bottom green. If horizontal red is in the far left, yellow middle, green on the right. I have been a Paramedic for 9 years and is not a problem, maybe an annoyance at times. Definitely has not kept me from ever getting a job even after flunking the color vision test on new hire physicals. Never have been teased about it. All my friends and “the ladies” always thought it was interesting that I was colorblind and will asked me questions about it. No need for a Pity Party!

  10. Lee McCullough

    I am color blind. In school the art teacher actually made fun of me because I did not know what color some things were. That is a prime example of how unaware our culture is of this disability and it is a disability. I tell my friends not to describe their houses by color but to give me a number. What looks green at ten in the morning will look completely different to me when the sun ha moved and shadows are longer or shorter. What is one color under natural light will be another color indoors or with a different background. And then there is always the genius who asks, “What color does it look like?” What did I just say? I’M COLOR BLIND.

  11. lanie

    hi miss karen levine i have a son who is color blind too im from philippines and the problem is i dont what course in college my son can be take its hard for me to decide coz i donno f the course he will take can use it for the future work help me i need a lil advice from u tnx so much n advance

  12. Maria Concepcion Gallego

    Very important for parents awareness. I have 2 sons who were affected, as a matter of fact, my eldest has a diploma in Aircraft Technician Course – 2 years. Very unfortunate for him, passing all the test and failing with the Ishihara Test. I wonder where will his career lead him.

    They still say….” Luftech ” Aircraft Structure? Is this possible?

    Any comments?

    Thanks in advance,

    Maria Concepcion Gallego

  13. BForrester

    I am the mother of a 6 yr old colourblind boy and wholeheartedly agree with your approach and the concerns that you initially had.

    I found the idaltonizer app a really useful way to understand how my son my see the world. Initially really difficult to adjust to, seeing beloved colours stripped away, but useful to understand where “blindness” can occur.

    I also found it a really lovely way to revisit my sons, as you eloquently described it, “puzzling” artwork. It helped me to understand the beauty that he may have felt that he was creating.

    • San

      I just stumbled upon you and must cnfeoss I have no idea how this doggone site works. But I’m glad that I found you because this post was wonderful! I’m new to blogging and in trying to create a community, I worry that I’m too shameless and too annoying. The good news? I’m not nearly as annoying as some people must be, so yay for that! I write about books and try to be funny. So um, You know. If you like that sort of thing, stop on by. If not, I’ll stalk you relentlessly on twitter! Muahahahahaha!

  14. Paul

    I’m also red/green colorblind (primarily, although close shades of anything are hard, such as some blue/purple, brown/green, yellow/orange, pink/gray, etc). I’ve learned coping mechanisms over the years such as simplifying my wardrobe. For work it’s black pants, black shoes, and mostly blue tops, but pretty much anything goes with black. Tan/khaki/brown/green/gray pants are a lot harder to match to a shirt. Casual days are blue jeans and tennis shoes. I’ve learned that I’m VERY good at spotting things that are supposedly using camouflage. I’m always the first to spot a deer in the woods, although I may not see the really huge bright red flower amongst the leaves. With traffic lights I rely on the order, although the flashing lights at night are junk, I can’t place where that single flashing bulb is within the arrangement and whether I have a yellow or red flashing at me. When in doubt I ask someone or treat it like a red. Colors with a bit of red in them usually tend to “glow” a bit more for me, so if I focus sometimes I can tell a purple from a blue by the fact that the purple glows a bit. I tried to get into the electrician’s union a long time ago and failed the colors of the wire test thoroughly before a panel, so there’s that. I am a programmer and do constantly face colorblindness problems at work as people try to categorize things on a marker board by color, or design a part of the application using color-coding, although fortunately I’m in a position where I can stick up for our colorblind customers and point out what should be changed before it goes out, and people are very receptive to it. If something must be color-coded on a marker board or something they’ll oblige me by selecting colors I can identify better. I play a lot of board games with friends, and there are SO many of those that are nightmares for the colorblind, its sort of a running joke with my friends. After I win a game they’ll say “hey, lets play that game with red and green pieces next” :) I have an app on my phone that I can use, or I ask a friend or my wife or 4 year old what color something is. I do, however, steer clear of paint decisions.

    • Kate

      Paul, you comment made me smile. I’m 37 and also see pink elephants! Well, I know they aren’t pink but pink and grey are easily confused by me. I have issues with the same colour combinations that you have mentioned.
      I also find that traffic lights, street lights etc at night time can be a struggle. Solid, well lit blocks of colour are definitely much easier to identify that small isolated flashing dots.
      I understand the camouflage comment too. I once read a book on colour vision that detailed this and commented that some Armed Forces actually employ colour blind/deficient personnel to “see through” the enemy camouflage. Camouflage just doesn’t work with some colour vision deficiencies.
      Can I ask what app it is that you mention you use that helps?

  15. Andy Crossland

    I entered 1st grade in 1954. I was a very bright child. I have some standardized test results that placed me in the top 1% in the . In 4th grade my mother bought me a box of 64 Crayola crayons. Just before Christmas my teacher gave us a picture of a holly wreath with decorations on it. I opened the box of crayons and the red, blue, green were not on the crayons but were replaced with sierra, taupe, and other non descript names. When I submitted it the teacher thought I was being a smart ass. I told her that I was color blind. She beat my butt with this big oak paddle in front of my classmates. She said that she knew that color blindness was an adult disease. She slammed me into my chair, and almost beat me again for continuing to insist that I was colorblind. Due to the policy of get spanked at school get another at home, I never told my parents, and threatened my sister so she would not tell. Randy Schoenman picked my crayons for me for the rest of the year.

    • Stephen

      I can sympathise with that. Luckily they stopped corporal punishment in schools just before I started, but I had to do one assignment where you’d to match the train engine to its carriages based on their colour. A simple task for most people, but I told the teacher I couldn’t do it because I was colour-blind and she told me there was “no such thing” and that I needed to learn my colours (I was about 8 at the time). I told my Mum and she was up the next day bawling the teacher out for being an idiot.

  16. wendy

    What an amazing article. Turning around a potentially difficult situation is the absolute best way to respond to life’s challenges.

    Love how you write and express yourself and thanks for sharing.

    • KhaiNuy

      Your comments cnrneocing color are duly noted, but in fact, one of the reasons for the colors is so that more than just two categories can be represented. In your solutions, I can tell that all of the boxed numbers miss the target in the first example, and in the second I can see that the last set is to be dealt with, but there is little way to say there is some measure of improvement, or how far from the mark the numbers are. (There are only two choices in or out). Whereas, with the the stop light example I can encourage some people by showing that although we have not met the goal, there has been improvement (by going from red to yellow). Or conversely we have slipped some from achievement (by going from green to yellow but are not yet really in the dog house, which would be red. I see an advantage to having three choices.

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    • Aleshane

      Very interesting read. Personally I write a blog for my own fun and if aynnoe comments is a bonus. Also I was interested in point 5 about community. I find that blogs that write about one main topic are the most successful. So blogs that deal with science, or sport, or politics etc. tend to attract readers who are interested in that topic. Blogs like mine that write about anything who takes their fancy tend to have less readers as there is no reason to keep track on them and build a loyalty.

  17. Gael Dalton

    Great article from a Mom’s point of view! I first noticed my son’s different color vision playing with Legos when he was about 4 years old. As long as the bricks were red, green, yellow and blue, there were no problems. When he started getting special Lego kits with more colors (and color-coded instructions to follow), the problems showed up. We started sorting the various colors so he could easily find the ones he needed, and all the yellow-orange pieces ended up together with the yellow-greens. My Dad’s colorblind, so I had a good idea what was happening. I’ve since talked with my son and his teachers about his different perception, and there have been few problems.
    My biggest concern is the use of color in testing, both in education and in occupational screening. Generally, people who don’t live with colorblindness, don’t think about colorblindness. Now that full-color computer screens and printers are so widespread, color’s being used in ever-expanding ways, and there’s an increasing potential for differences in color vision to be a potential barrier. For example, the tests that exclude a colorblind person from particular occupations may be inadvertently biased.
    I think that in raising awareness of differences in color vision, it’s possible to create new job opportunities by addressing the issue directly. I’ve seen some efforts in this direction in video games. The workarounds I’ve seen so far have been awkward, though, which leads me to think there are not enough colorblind developers to effectively incorporate the differences into the initial designs.
    My Dad did a lot of work early in his career using black-and-white film in heat-mapping with motors. When the technology advanced and the read-outs were all in subtle variations of similar colors, that became a problem for him. I recently read of some advances being made heat-mapping software that takes differences in color vision into account. To me, that indicates another opportunity specifically for someone who sees color differently.
    I expect that as computer software provides more ways to isolate specific colors, we’ll see an expansion in understanding of color vision beyond the current classifications, and an increase in the population affected by differences in color vision.

  18. Drew Arman

    When i first got into school and people found out they began to tease me about it. But when we moved i decided to just not tell anyone and i kept it to myself because by that time colors weren’t really that big of a part of school, but then we moved back about 4 1/2 years later and of course everyone remembered

    • Mera

      God. #9 makes me want to fist pump! I like to call those really terbirly designed and often over-the-top websites MySpace sites. Remember the animated, dancing, glittering puppies and horrific backgrounds? So many websites feel like that, and it’s a huge turn off.What goes through my mind:1) The blogger knows nothing.2) The blogger knows nothing ABOUT WEB DESIGN (assuming the posts and other content are good).It’s a sad state of affairs when a good website is skipped over because of bad design. Hopefully your post will help new bloggers learn that! Thanks for your insights.

  19. Bruce

    I enjoyed your story, and reflected back on my years of discovery too. I entered public school in 1956, and of course there was very little awareness of the condition know as color blindness. I will never forget a turning point for me. I was in the first grade, and generally considered one of the more artistic in the class. One fall day, the teacher took us outside, and sat us under the big colorful autumn trees. The assignment was to capture natures beautiful fall colors in a drawing of the trees. I think it was expected that mine would be one of the best. But as it turned out, the teacher didn’t even display my masterpiece! In fact, she actually contacted my parents to discuss my defiant attitude. You see…my version of the colorful trees, was VERY different from all the others in our class. And to the teacher, it looked as though, I had no interest in following directions. Interesting to note, that episode did not derail me or my vocational future. I went on to become a Graphic Designer, and later, an Art Director. I handled my visual handicap, by becoming extremely proficient in the use of the Pantone Marking System. The system contains hundreds of colors used in the graphics and printing industry. Over time, I learned to spot colors, by their Pantone number, instead of common color names. There have been times when I could not identify a specific color, but thanks to my enlightened sense of awareness of the problem, I found a variety of ways to not only cope, but to become quite proficient.

    I retired this year, and as I look back, and reflect on what it was like to be a color-blind artist, I must say the experience was a challenge. But like all challenges met, I am better for it. As it turns out, my handicap actually helped me, instead of holding me back.

  20. Steve Lovering

    Having lived with colour blindness for the last 65 years I thank you for for your informative and sympathetic article. Like most others living with this condition it has required me to develop methods of distinguishing colour by hues,subtly asking others for their opinion and at school simply copying classmates. I even managed graduate from artschool and spent 35 years working in an advertising agency as a copy writer and some years as a Creative Director without revealing my problem. However, I’m still often embarrassed by my lack of colour understanding and annoyed at the attitude of other people – the what colour is my shirt thing and frustrated at the lack of progress in reforming our colour coded world. Try the London underground map. Yes, there are black and white versions but they are as rare as hens teeth.My biggest regret however is that at a very early age I was taught basic mathematics by some new fangled a colour coded system with the result that I am virtually innumerate. Throughout my time at school i was constantly accused of not trying or being lazy in maths class, while my ability in all other subjects including geography (except for maps) placed me more or less in the top 10%. This lead to being seen a number of times by local authority ‘educational psychiatrists’ none of whom ever tested me for colour blindness. I trust in these days schools are more enlightened.

  21. jim carlin m d radiologist

    Eastman kodak did some beautiful research about color
    the conclusion using varied relationships of color blocks in a montage was-color perception is relative to the surrounding color blocks-when the surrounding blocks are changed-perception is different
    if true-we are hard wired for relational color perception
    vision is hard wired for vertical horizontal 3 dimensional perception
    radiology-shades of grey is a natural for me

    • lanie

      hi jim carlin r u a radiologist i have a son who s a colorblind too and im planning for him to take that course in college coz he cannot be a seaman whos working on a ship bcoz of his handicapped pls i need ur advice tnx so much

    • Mohamed

      Amberr MeadowsAndrew, I am fortunate to get brekas with guest posts. I too work a 9-5, but I have the ability to work at home or close by. Generally I try to answer comments and visit other blogs by waking up early or hitting them up late at night. I also have a kiddo, so when she’s not at school, I’m hanging with her. What’s sleep exactly, and why do I need much of that?

  22. Juan

    Hello everyone!

    My names is Juan, I’m from Colombia and I need your help or at least to get your opinions about something.

    I’m a teacher at a university, I teach “Color Theory for Film and TV”. I am not color blind nor am I color deficient, however, I tested my students on day one and one of them seems to be color deficient (not sure which kind).

    I would like to know your opinion on how to deal with this. As I told you, the subject of the class is “Color Theory”, but I don’t want to discourage him. I’m one of those people who thinks there’s a way around everything, and I’m pretty sure that if do things the right way, my student(s) can find a way to deal with their visual condition and still be able to be successful.

    What would you recommend for this case?

    Is there any safe way to publish my email?

    • Maria Concepcion Gallego

      Great teacher! You are. For being so concerned with a student.

      I am a teacher too and I Salut you for being a second parent to him.

      I wish all teacher will be like US!

      Ms. Ghie

    • Nathan

      Hello Juan. I am colorblind and have had this sort of situation occur many times with my instructors. I would recommend that you ask your student(s) where their particular problem areas are, maybe provide them with a color pencil box and have them arrange them so that all the similar colors are grouped. This could give you a rough idea of what sort of troubles they are having in what areas and you might be able to help them find a way to cope, if not your working eyes will be able to tell them where their particular problem area(s) is (are).

  23. Karen Levine

    Thanks everyone, for your insights and support. A new hardcover edition of All About Color Blindness is available on Amazon.
    Good luck!

  24. Skip

    People still minimize the effects of RG deficiency, as seen in earlier comments. From constant teasing by my pre-pubescent sisters (shrieks of laughter at me after time and again I fail, “What color is THIS, Skip?”) to gradual recognition of the many avocations & occupations dependent on color perception (c’mon, cooks / chefs don’t depend on perceiving color?) I’ve found color blindness to be a major hindrance to the range of choices in my life. Workarounds? As others, I’ve found a few but for the most part they’re clumsy and subject to failure. My prescription for society, not for me as I’m coming up on 70 and unlikely to benefit, is two-fold: Back genetic research, as it’s the only hope for real change; and, don’t just screen kids early but institute early programs to teach them how to cope with the condition, something even the most caring of parents are ill-equipped to do. Teach the youngsters what their particular eyes can give them — not all RG deficiencies are the same — and how to best navigate the world’s shoals and opportunities when most others can see something they can’t.

  25. Jim Smith


    I am 76 years old and am colour blind.

    The first time I became aware of it was when I was about age 8-9 years old. The teacher asked all the pupiles in the class to draw a map of the British Isles, and my map was held up in front of the class as being the best drawn map, but then the teacher asked me, but why James, did you colour the sea purple (she did’nt say it in in a nasty way)so that was the first time I was aware of being colour blind.

    • Maria Concepcion Gallego

      How did you cope up with your career sir?


    • Kate

      Hi Jim

      My secondary school Geography teacher used to do a similar thing! She wasn’t picking on me in a me in a mean way but she would joke that my “sea” always seemed to end up purple! Of course I knew the sea should be blue but I was just selecting the wrong colour! Thankfully I’ve been aware I was colour blind since I was very small.

  26. Alex

    my family (incl my twin sister) said I didn’t know my colors! It’s never really worried me as I learnt to cope early on by asking. Traffic lights – well the green looks white and I go on ‘white’!
    The only time I struggled was when at college (I studied Economics) I’d become confused with graphs using different colored lines – would prefer the lines rather be dots (……), short dashes (——-) or variations such as ++++++++++ . Today when I read business/economics related topics I sometimes have to work through them a bit slower but at the end of the day I either work it out or ask (no one minds!).
    Clothes-wise my late wife helped choose and now I ask friendly-looking women (who buy clothes for their men) to help! I never ask men shoppers – they get the wrong idea!

    • balaji

      ha , white(green) traffic lights, the first time i told my dad about it, he was surprised , but didn’t really mind. i found out i was colorblind when i was 23, but i knew i had trouble with colours , i just thought they were difficult. I made up my own system of identifying colors based on their hues and shades, so i usually don’t make mistakes when the colors are lined up, but when they point out something without any point of reference i mess up. i really hated color coded transistors and spectrum of light experiments.

  27. musa

    I’m Japanese.
    My son now 11 years old have color blind.
    Ireally supprised becouse Japanese color blind less USA 5-8%.
    But almost same thing.
    School teacher didn’t understand aboutt that.

    About year ago I ask city culture center that is doing public school things.
    Personsaid teacher all know about that becouse make mini books about something probrem student.
    But that was wrong every year change teacher I must speak about my son.
    and every time teacher don’t know nothing about that.

    I was graduated from Art univercity.
    So first time little shock about my son.
    Me and my husband parents-low didn’t know person have color blind.
    I think genetic color blind factor mother to mother.

    I wanted to know another country color blind.
    So really happy csn read your article,
    Thank you

    • Max

      Hi Amberr, great post! I just happened to stmbule across it tonight, and have spent most of the night reading all the comments and replies. I love your voice’ , and shall now be following/stalking you across all mediums I have recently relaunched my blog site as self hosted, after dipping my toes in with Blogger. Am trying to gather as much insight as possible to make my blog a success, so have love, love, loved these tips. Thank you for sharing

  28. Deb

    Thank you for your post – my son is red-green color deficient. I noticed he was reading the labels of crayons and memorized what colors were appropriate for different things (once we asked him why he wasn’t coloring grass green, so he read the crayons until he found green). Today I am a little sad, because he was tested for kindergarten (advanced class for gifted children) & he barely missed the cutoff. There is a note about him being colorblind and “his scores appear to be affected by disability.” What are your thoughts on that? It was the KBIT-II which apparently is produced in full color.

    • Gavi

      Great post, and very helpful to me. I’ve been bnlogigg a while but still feel like a novice. I’ve changed my blog design about a million times frilly, plain, professional, artsy and now just back to pretty. (I just want a pretty place to call my own!) I know that content is most important, though. Struggling with how to build community. (I tried replying at my blog to each comment, but that took time away from visiting other blogs.) Your blog is amazing.

  29. Melissa McCulloch

    Hi, I have been researching the genetics of seeing color. I am an artist not a scientist but I thought I would mention a few of my findings (you may already know these things but just in case you don’t…). You may actually be a tetrachromat, someone who sees more colors than “normal”. Tetrachromacy is linked to colorblindness. This ability was discovered by tracking down moms of color blind sons. Paul Newman was colorblind…he wasn’t able to become a pilot but he lived a very successful and interesting life! And finally, some have suggested that colorblindness can actually be helpful picking out objects that are camouflaged (in hunting for example…maybe less color information is helpful). Thanks.

    • Karen Levine

      I’ve heard about tetrachromacy but I don’t know if I have it. Isn’t that funny. I wouldn’t know if I had more color vision any more than someone else would know if they had less. We all assume we see the same way that everyone else does. It’s only the things around us, like traffic lights, that make it difficult for people with less color vision. Thanks for your post.

  30. Brad

    I am 55 and have of course been R-G colorblind all my life. It is no big deal. My clothes match. I can see the traffic lights. We get so hysterical about this stuff. Of course, if I got really, really indignent about it maybe they would give me special parking spots or something.

    • Dario

      This is really great adicve. I’ve long felt that overuse of profanity by a writer is primarily a way to generate traffic and / or get people buzzing about them. It hides the fact that there are usually more eloquent ways to express the same thought (not to say a well timed cuss word doesn’t work on occasion). Love this post, I found it through one of your comments posted elsewhere. Thanks!

  31. Denis

    Great article. I am 25 years old and colour-blind and I agree 100 % with you that there is a huge lack of awareness about colour-blindness for most people. Your story about a veteran teacher never having a single colour-blind student did not surprise me that much. As you pointed out, it is statistically speaking impossible for veteran teachers never to have had a colour-blind student. The problem is that it often goes unnoticed until the early teens. Actually, I learned I was colour-blind in 7th grade, and it was because the visual arts teacher actually had a Ishihara Test book and tested all the students at the beginning of the year. Before that, I was not aware of the existence of a test, and I had no idea I was colour-blind. My family and friends just thought I “did not know my colours”.

    I wonder if it would be that hard to give a copy of the test to schoolteachers and simply have them test the students (in private) if they have a particularly hard time with colours. It’s not that hard to detect, remember that a normal child would likely not mix red and green crayons.

    That being said, I never found myself to be that much limited in terms of career choices. I studied in the science/engineering domain. I know a lot of colour-blind people in this domain including students (even university personnel) and they have no problem whatsoever (except or colour codes in labs, but then again you just ask for help and you’re done). I guess health sciences, humanities, business, law would also be perfectly colour-blind accessible. Actually, I think the colour-blind exclusion list is likely very short as you pointed out (mainly design, law enforcement and aviation. Can’t think of anything else).

    • Karen Levine

      Hi Denis,
      Hat’s off to your 7th grade art teacher! Too bad it’s the exception rather than the rule. In the U.S., most states son’t mandate color vision screening for young students, and the ones that do, don’t provide any more information. You have a great attitude about your color vision deficiency. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • John

      I disagree with your statement that there are few jobs limited by CVD. I’m 20 years old, and am constantly faced with my “disability” in trying to choose a career. A majority of military jobs require color vision (something like 78%, if I remember correctly), and I’ve been told by more than one recruiter that I should look elsewhere because of it. I can’t work with railroads or oil; I can’t fly; I can’t become a police officer, firefighter or EMT; I can’t become a driver, welder or electrician… you get the idea. Oh, you’re saying I can be a cook? Or a manual laborer? Joy, I can’t wait to waste my intellectual skills and abilities because a majority of people don’t understand the varying degrees of CVD. In my experience, this “disability,” and I use the quotations simply because of its absolutely ridiculous connotations, is extremely limiting for those of us in search of what I would call a more hands-on or exciting job.

  32. Tushaara

    Dear Karen Levine & Dawn,

    I am a design student in Singapore and I am currently working on a project based on colour blindness. I was wondering, with your permission that is, if your son is willing to take a questionnaire?

    I am seeking to understand the perspective of those with colour blindness, so as to make design of everyday objects, printmedia and digital media friendlier to them. It would greatly help in my project which hopes to help the colour blind community.

    All personal details will be kept confidential and information will be left anonymous. It will only be used as research analysis for a thesis paper.

    This is the link to the questionnaire: http://www.mobosurvey.com/S34WH

    Thank you for your time :)

    • Karen Levine

      Hi Tushaara,
      I’m so sorry I didn’t see your post sooner. Is it too late to send the survey to my son?

  33. Dawn

    Thanks for such a fantastic article. I’m much earlier in my journey than you. My son has recently been diagnosed red-green colour deficient and I’m beginning to learn more about it. We are not sure where his came from as there are no known CVD individuals in my family but with my background in science at least I understand the genetics… and it’s likely it came from my father who sadly died when I was 18 so cannot be tested. I’ve taken a similar approach with my son’s teacher – educating and offering help. As a teacher myself I am surprised that we are not educated in supporting this common condition in the same way we are educated in spotting/supporting certain other conditions e.g. dyslexia, epilepsy, autism …I intend to buy the book.

    • Karen Levine

      Hi Dawn, Sorry I’m so late in replying. What you’re doing is great. It’s amazing how many how many moms seem to share our experience. It’s also amazing how many teachers don’t know about it! The book is for parents and teachers as well as children. It’s been a long road, but now that the book is out, I hope to start educating the learning community. Thanks so much for sharing your story.