Testing for Color Deficiency

I’ve been uber-sensitive about color blindness for about 10 years now. I reported to a CFO who asked for a financial dashboard, and I included a “stop-light” visualization to indicate performance, just simple dots colored red, yellow and green. I presented the dashboard to the CFO and he looked up at me, as I prepared for praise, and said “It’s nice, but what are the dots?”. He went on to explain that he was colorblind, and I was mortified. I went back and added visual icons to go with the coloring to add clarity from him and all was well.

Fast forward in time and technology and I’m still uber-sensitive to color deficiency, but now I have really great tools to test color compliance. While the percentages of color deficiency remains single digits, it’s still something that we, as designers, should consider and design for in our practice. There are two tools I recommend that cover the on-line world and the slightly disconnected world.

Original Version
Protanopia Simulation

The first one I use is a Chrome Extension called Spectrum. Spectrum sits in the upper corner of my browser window and whether on Tableau Server or Tableau Public and can click the small icon and test for 9 different color deficiencies with no upload, or reload of the page!





If you are dealing with something that is not web based (like Tableau Desktop or Tableau Reader) you can take a screen capture and use Coblis. Simply upload the image of your dashboard to Coblis and cycle through the different deficiency types.

Do you have tools you use? Please share in the comments of this post!


One thought on “Testing for Color Deficiency

  1. Great post Mark! I need to give Spectrum a try. I’ve been using ColorOracle for a few years now.

    Sooner or later you find out someone in your audience is colorblind. It takes under a minute to do a quick color check with these tools. It beats the awkward moment when an important client can’t see your work.

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