Interview with Daniel Flück on Color “Blindness”

Interview with Daniel Flück on Color “Blindness”


Colblindor was started in early 2006 when Daniel Flück created a blog based on colour deficiency and colour blindness. The blog has actually become quite the comprehensive resource itself, addressing types of colour blindness and how to distinguish between types of colour blindness.

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CL: What led you to create your blog, Colblindor?

Daniel Flück: It was in January 2006 when I was inspired by a talk of Robert Scoble about weblogs, and their growing power and interaction possibilities. After viewing this I decided to get on the boat, starting with my own ideas just about everything. Only after a while I found out, that this wasn't really what I was looking for. Browsing through some well known blogs about blogging taught me to watch out for my own niche which I could write about. And as I am colorblind myself and couldn't find anybody else writing about it, I started off with Colblindor.


CL: People often hear 'colourblind' and assume black, white, and shades of grey. Within the understanding that there are types of colourblindness, could you supply a brief summary of the specific types that have been found, and perhaps how common they are?

Daniel Flück: To start, with I would like to mention that 'color blindness' as a term was just a really bad choice for this type of -- let's say -- 'handicap'. Much better would be something like color vision deficiency (too long), color-disabled (sounds bad) or anything else, which doesn't lead us down the wrong path.

Coming back to your question, people seeing only in 'shades
of gray' are suffering from monochromatism, which is very, very uncommon. The most common form is one subtype of red-green color blindness called deuteranomaly (green-weakness), which affects about one out of 20 males and one out of 300 females. Other types are deuteranopia (green-blindness), protanopia (red-blindness), protanomaly (red-weakness), tritanopia (blue-blindness) and tritanomaly (blue-weakness). All of them affect about 1% of all males and 0.01% of all females, except the tritan defects which can be observed only in much lower rates.

To get a visual idea of what Daniel is speaking about, let's look at the same room under three different types of colour deficiency:

Seen here is The Tower Room at Mansfield College in Oxford as seen through eyes with even colour rod development:

The Tower Room at Mansfield College

Now, let's take the same room and show you it through colour-deficient eyes:

Deuteranomaly:
Tower Room viewed as a Deuteranope

Protanopia:
Tower Room viewed as a Protanope

Tritanopia:
Tower Room as viewed by a Tritanope

CL: How colourblind-friendly is the internet?

Daniel Flück: I would say the internet is very colorblind-friendly. Luckily enough we left the time of all those color-experiment webpages behind us.
Almost never I come across something on the internet, where my
color blindness shows up as a handicap. Maybe I don't see everything, which I can't tell you, but the things I can see and I can do are to 99% colorblind-friendly.

CL: What do you feel is the most inconvenient thing about being colourblind?

Daniel Flück: For me it's definitely the one thing: When I have to pee in a public toilet. Most often occupied toilets show a red sign and vacants green, and I can't distinguish those two colors very well. So every time I have to pee I'm pushing down door knobs to find a vacant toilet. And I really hate that.

CL: What advantages do you feel you have over the non-colourblind? I've heard that the army, at least in the United States, seeks out people whom are colourblind in detecting camouflagued objects or persons.

Daniel Flück: I heard about this story too. But that was back in the second world war and since then nobody really talks about it. Maybe if you are colorblind you can spot certain color nuances better than somebody with normal color vision. But to me, this isn't really an advantage because I can't make use of it. So I don't think there is any advantage at all, except that I know how it is to be colorblind...

CL: Do you think colourblindness is more of a unique perspective rather than a disability?

Daniel Flück: No, I don't think so. If somebody can't see at all this might be true in some way. Because those people use other senses much stronger. But as a colorblind person you rely on your eyes as everybody else. And everything is just less colorful and nothing else. You could also ask if having a limited visual field is a unique perspective, and I don't think so. I don't want to say that color blindness is a disability in all cases. For me it's just something I have to live with and handle it as good as possible.

--

Want to see what we're talking about?
With VisCheck, you can view websites through colour filters as a Deteuranope, Protanope, and Tritanope. Simply select which sight and site you'd like to see, and you're well on your way to better understanding.


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5 Comments
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 Comments
wow! how interesting. the VisCheck site is really neat. Until a couple of years ago, I did think that colourblindness really was an absence of all colour. It's really interesting to know that there are differences and to be able to see how colourblind people see colour. This was a great interview!
“Monochromatism” may be a generic term for anyone with no colour sensation, but almost the only condition that causes it is achromatopsia (Cf. _The Island of the Colorblind_). There’s no such thing as anomalous tritanopia, hence tritanomaly doesn’t exist.
@joeclark: Why are you so sure, that there is no such thing as tritanomaly? I read about some eye diseases like glaucoma which can cause an acquired form of anomalous tritanopia. I would be happy to learn more about it.
Anyone see Little Miss Sunshine? Colourblindness will never be the same to me again.

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