Colour me better

Fixing figures for colour blindness. Images can be made more accessible by choosing hues, shapes and textures carefully.


A neuroscientist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Harden has protanomaly: he cannot differentiate red from green pigments because of a genetic mutation that affects how the cones of his retina detect red light.

Red–green colour blindness is the most common form of colour vision deficiency; blue–yellow colour blindness is less common, and achromatopsia, the inability to see most colours, is rarer still. In northern Europe, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have a colour vision deficiency — enough people that making your work accessible is simply the right thing to do, says Harden. “I consider using colour-blind-friendly palettes and colour maps as a way to express empathy to people who are truly interested in your work.”

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