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As we move towards creating more diversity, equity and inclusivity in the workplace, it is important to bear in mind that there are many elements to evaluate when you work towards making your organisation an inclusive workplace. For instance, having DE&I policies is not just about hiring diverse talent and treating them fairly (obviously, that is extremely important too).
It is also about improving processes to make them more inclusive. One way for an inclusive culture is to make office documents and collaterals colourblind-friendly to create equal access.
Colour blindness is a lot more common than many people might think. According to EnChroma, estimates point to a whopping 330 million people affected by CVD (colour vision deficiency) around the world (which is 4% of the population, or the same amount as the entire population of the United States).
It is typically inherited genetically and carried recessively on the X chromosome, which is why CVD affects mainly men (about one in 12 men versus about one in 200 women). And this is primarily for those with red-green colour blindness (“deutan-type” and “proton-type” vision deficiency).
Less precise figures are known for blue-yellow colour deficiency, most often caused by progressive or age-related eye conditions, with estimates placing the total number at least as high as those for red-green colour blindness. This means the real figure could be upwards of 600 million people and growing rapidly, with populations worldwide ageing at a much faster rate.
While many people may consider CVD to be a “less mild” disability, studies show that 2 in 3 people with CVD feel it is a “handicap” (EnChroma). Consider some basic things in our day-to-day lives that are experienced very differently for those with CVD who see as few as 10% of the colours those with regular vision are able to see: many of them can’t tell when a power switch changes colour, and are surprised to find out that peanut butter is not green and that a rainbow has more than two colours.
Normal Vision Protanopia Tritanopia
Now consider what life for a person with CVD is like in the workplace; for instance, when trying to make sense of graphs that use colours to heat map or organise data. In fact, 90% of people with CVD say it affects them at work, and 75% say they need help to verify colours from coworkers (EnChroma).
Although there is no cure or treatment for inherited colour blindness, there are a number of things that colour-blind people can do to cope.
While many adults with CVD are often excluded from certain jobs depending on the country where they live (for example, airline pilot, graphic designer, and electrician), in many jobs, a person with CVD can find creative strategies to perform colour-dependent tasks, such as identifying colours by using an app or by asking their colleagues for help. It is important that you have created an inclusive environment within your place of work that makes asking for help less daunting.
More specifically, however, when creating documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, there are a number of CVD-inclusive things you can do (such as what we have done with our recent report, Company Culture: Reset, Refocus, Reshape).
8 Ways to Design a Color Blind Friendly Website
How to Use Color Blind Friendly Palettes to Make Your Charts Accessible
5 tips on designing colourblind-friendly visualizations
Finally, if you are uncertain as to whether you have CVD or not, we would highly recommend EnChroma’s Colour Blind Test, which takes less than a minute to complete.
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