Friday, June 25, 2010

Visualizing Colourblindness

Several years ago I found this website ... Vischeck ... that allowed me to "see what Luke sees". I was very upset. Knowing that he was colourblind did not really prepare me for this. For someone who loves red as much as I do, realizing that my son ... nor my Dad or any of my brothers ... can see it at all made me so sad. I got over it, though. This is the world as they know it. They don't miss red.

Every year when Luke would start school with a new teacher, I would print a few of these types of images just so his teacher would understand what Luke could and could not see. In elementary school it's important that a teacher know and understand. Luke would hold up a brilliant green marker and ask, "Is this red?" or "Is this brown?" Maps are challenging for people who are colourblind. So is coloured chalk on blackboards. I would print off this information about colourblindness for the teachers every year, too.

These are some examples of life through the eyes of someone who is red/green colourblind. I was initially so shocked at the difference that I asked Luke if the two photos looked different to him. He looked carefully and then he suggested that maybe the blue was a slightly different shade in one than the other. To my eye, the blue was one of the few things that looked the same. Strange!

It made me sad that our complexions all look pasty beige to a colourblind person. Then again, this is their normal. It makes me wonder how they know (or don't know) if someone has a fever or is blushing? What I do know is that someone who is colourblind compensates in other ways. They have a keener eye for shape. Dad would pick strawberries by shape. I was told that during the war they would use colourblind people in the air when they flew over the land to help them detect camouflage.  I know from experience that colourblind people can be very good at putting together jigsaw puzzles. They go mostly by shape.Their mistaken attempts at fitting a piece in can look peculiar ... trying to put a red piece of flower in a green tree. It's all about shape.

If you wonder what your world looks like to a colourblind person, try out this handy web tool ... Vischeck.

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