Not colorblind but color confused
Almost two billion people have an account on the social media site Facebook.
Though updates have been made throughout time, one Facebook feature has stayed true to its development: the site’s blue and white color scheme.
This has been the color scheme for 13 years
The reason behind the simple design is that Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, suffers from red-green colorblindness. Because of this, “Facebook blue” is the richest color in Zuckerberg’s eyes, literally and figuratively. Due to the color scheme of choice, a red-green colorblind person will see the site just as anyone with typical vision will, which is often a rare opportunity for the colorblind.
In all, roughly eight-percent of all men and 0.5-percent of all women suffer from colorblindness.
Jeff High sophomore Josiah Powell falls within that eight-percent of men, and possesses the most common type of colorblindness: red-green.
What is colorblindness?
It is presumed by some that colorblind people see the world in shades of black and white, as if it were a 1920’s movie. Contrary to popular belief, though, is that colorblindness doesn’t mean that no color can be seen.
Instead, there’s less of an array of colors that are able to be seen.
“I mostly just see primary colors and their shades” Powell said.
The common yellow, red, and blue colors, and certain shades, are evident for him -- but when it comes to secondary colors and their shades, that’s a different story.
Purple, orange and green don’t exist within his world of color. Red-green colorblindness, which is the combination of red-blindness (protanopia) and green-blindness (deuteranopia), causes the eye to be sensitive to red and green light.
Challenges that come with colorblindness
For some, style and the coordination of an outfit is hard enough when all colors are clearly visible. However for Powell, it’s nearly impossible to match an outfit according to color.
For example, an outfit of blue jeans and a red t-shirt may not look bad together. However for Powell, he could be confusing that with what is actually an orange and purple mix, which doesn’t look so great. Wearing JHS-red for Spirit Day may not be hard for most, but Powell would be looking at an array of what is actually orange, green and red, because they all appear as red in his eyes.
This look may be easy for most to accomplish
“Whenever underclass have to wear red shirts (for Spirit Week), I can easily get that messed up and wear an orange shirt,” Powell said.
However Powell could end up with this ... which isn't quite as flattering
At the age of 15, it won’t be too long until Powell can be on the road driving. However with red and green playing prominent roles in understanding traffic laws, he will be facing some difficulties, as a typical view of a stoplight is different from Powell’s. He cannot be taught that red is stop, green is go and yellow is slow because for him, that isn’t the case.
Powell has to memorize the order and the placement of traffic lights , he cannot rely on the color
“When it comes to stoplights, I have to remember which color is on top and which is on bottom,” Powell said.
Another potentially common conflict is school. Most school subjects aren't affected by Powell’s colorblindness but some are, such as Biology.
“I don’t do labs that have to do with color coordination. I have my lab partner do that part,” Powell said.
Additionally, Powell has art for fifth period -- passing that class and getting the credits needed to graduate isn’t an easy process for him.
This is how most see this painting
This is how Powell sees it
“Coloring and painting anything is just pretty difficult for me,” Powell said. “I have to have someone else hand me certain colors.”
Comparing their world of color to ours
When people look up at the seven colors in the rainbow to admire its beauty, Powell will only see three of those seven colors: the primaries of red, blue and yellow.
“Rainbows really aren’t that memorizing or beautiful in my eyes,” Powell said.
A colorblind person only has 20-30 hues available within their world of color, while most see over 100 hues.
“Most things are pretty dull, like sunsets,” Powell said. “People are like ‘Wow, that’s a really pretty sunset’ and I look up and it’s not that exciting.”
Trying to describe a place using color to Powell is equivalent to trying to explain an object using sound to a deaf person -- it’s nearly impossible.
Despite the “nearly impossibles,” Powell faces the challenges of having Red-Green colorblindness daily. Colors and the visions that they bring shouldn’t be taken for granted. The colorblind aren’t blinded to the sight of color but are simply color confused.