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Color Blindness / Contrast Deficits

Color blindness is the result of pigment abnormalities in certain nerve cells of the eyes (cones). Students with the most common form of color blindness have difficulty distinguishing between red and green. Contrast discrimination has to do with distinguishing between shading or intensity of color.

Students with colorblindness may have trouble seeing colors or brightness of color, or be unable to differentiate between shades of the same or similar colors. Color blindness is most often a genetic condition, and is seen most often in men. It is also quite common, with nearly 1 in 10 men having some form of color blindness. Color vision deficiencies impact students' academics when color is a key part of the content (e.g. the color of a chemical solution reveals whether the experiment was performed correctly), or when color is used as a key instructional technique (e.g. the instructor uses red and green to highlight differences between topics).

Problems with contrast discrimination make visual processing difficult and more time consuming as students need to view content longer to process the parts of an image. Depending on the luminance and the degree of the visual impairment, the student may not be able to process the image at all.

Observing Color Blindness / Contrast Deficits in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following in students with color blindness or contrast deficits:

  • May have difficulty understanding color-dependent content
  • May request that certain color combinations not be used
  • May be unable to distinguish shades within a color range
  • May take longer to process complex or color dependent diagrams
  • May request that diagrams be printed in black and white


Related Functional Characteristics

Color Vision Deficiency : Color blindness and contrast deficits both involve difficulties with discriminating visual differences.

Contrast Vision Deficiency : Students with color blindness have defects in the part of their eyes that interpret colors (cone cells).

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.