Skip to main content

Heroes: colour blind & Digital accessibility

surfing the world wide web or using digital applications is not always easy for people with disabilities. Ideally, designers, developers, and other makers of the digital web take into account the various forms of limitation during the design process. However, practice shows that unfortunately, that is not always the case. The cause of this is often that one is simply not aware that not everyone in the same way digital products can use.

With our series, “heroes”, we bring every restriction to the attention. In these articles, we provide insight into how these people use digital applications and which tools can be used to make every digital expression more inclusive.

Browsing with a disability: being colour blind, what is that?

You must have heard of the cones and bars that are on the retina of the eye. With colour blindness, something goes wrong with those cones. They do not switch well, so that the person does not see colours as they really are. Colour blindness falls within the “visual limitations” category. 

Colour blindness can manifest itself in different ways. For example, a person can be completely colour blind. He or she then sees everything in black, white, and gray. In addition, this person can also see little during daylight. Fortunately, this form of colour blindness is rare. The vast majority of people have partial colour blindness, also known as Daltonism. They cannot only distinguish several colours; usually those are the colours red and green.

some interesting figures: in total there are about 1.3 million Dutch colour blind people. Men are more likely to suffer from colour blindness – about 1 in 12 are men, and 1 in 200 are women. 1 in 6 people with colour blindness is bothered by this in their daily work.

How do digital interactions differ for people with colour blindness compared to the average person?

People with (partial) colour blindness are less or unable to distinguish from each other. This makes it sometimes impossible for them to visual cues To be observed. For example, think of “green for yes”, and “red for no”. The use of a legend for (digital) cards can also cause problems when the only countries distinguish colours. Even something simple like online choosing which cinema seats you want to sit can show quite a challenge when the designers of the website have not brought colour blindness when designing.

What should be taken into account for people with colour blindness?

Some people with colour blindness use special auxiliary software that helps them use the web or other digital products without any problems. For example, this software adjusts colours by making them lighter or darker. To make cards and diagrams readable, the program then produces a pattern on top of the colours so that in this way countries can be distinguished from each other per pattern. 

It is of course of great importance that the use of colour within your digital product or website is looked into. The colours must always contrast well and are chosen with a view to the largest group of colour blind people can also see and distinguish the colours.

rainbow of colours

Tools and “Best Practices”

If you want to enable people with colour blindness to be able to use your digital product, it is important to pay attention to the following.

  • High contrasts and the right colours: perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind A high contrast is always present between the colours used. In addition, certain colour tones simply fall off because colour blind people cannot see that colour properly.
  • People who want to make their products digitally accessible for colour blind people should know that there are a number of handy tools. For example, a (chrome) web extension that shows the way in which a website can be seen in the eyes of the most common types of colour blindness.
  • UX-research with the target group: when possible, always have your app or website tested by someone who has colour blindness to behind it to come which solutions work and don’t work. If that is not possible, use tools such as those mentioned above.

Digital accessibility for everyone

Our mission is to make the digital landscape accessible to everyone. Are you looking for more information about how to do that? View our other blog posts, Order our card game , or contact us.

Vincent van Brakel

Vincent van Brakel researches the accessibility of websites and apps for Digitaal Toegankelijk. Vincent also writes about everything that has to do with digital accessibility and shares practical tips on