Monday, March 9, 2020

International Women’s Day, Color Blindness and Demos

So what brings these three things together?

Well, yesterday was International Women’s Day and it turns out the color blindness (or more accurately color vision deficiency) is an area where women surpass men (fewer women are color blind), and understanding this will help your demos.


Color blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men (~8.3%) and 1 in 200 women (0.5%) in the world.  The most typical form of color blindness is “red-green” in which people find it difficult to distinguish between reds and greens (and colors close to these) – they often simply see them as shades of brown – and they can find it very hard to differentiate between the shades. 

So this means that if you have a fabulous, highly colorful dashboard with red and green indicators for “bad” and “good”, many people who are color blind cannot see the difference – they see these indicators as shades of brown. 


1.     Build shapes into your UI, so that “bad” has one specific shape (a “stop sign” or “x”, for example) and “good” has a markedly different shape (a “round dot” or “check-mark” or “tick mark”, for example), in addition to the color cues.

2.     If your UI lacks these distinctive shapes, then you need to call out the color when you are presenting a demo.  For example, you point to a “good” indicator and say, “So what you see here in green indicates that things are OK” and when you point to a “bad” indicator you offer, “…And this red box shows a problem area.”

Think about your audiences – how often have you had people in your demos who were color blind (but you never knew it)?

Bonus idea:  Find someone in your own organization who is color blind – and practice your demos with him or her…  What you learn may be insightful!

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