[thelist] color blindness

Steve Cook sck at biljettpoolen.se
Fri Oct 6 09:52:04 CDT 2000

Having sat on the sidelines of this discussion (and I must admit I'm
fascinated by your explanations of colour-blindness Andrew - it's something
most of us never consider), it occurs to me that this strikes home right at
the heart of the ever-ongoing debate about accessibility in web design.

Whether we are talking about colour-blindness (excuse my anglicised spelling
:-), blind / visually impaired users, users with physical diabilities or
even just users with non-standard browsers / displays, it always boils down
to "How important is this particular audience to you?". At the end of the
day, this is what one has to consider. 

I made a vow during another of these discussion on this list, that I would
whenever possible design sites that were accessible to the widest range of
users possible. In reality, since that time, I have probably created some
content that has not been easily useable by certain user groups and I'm not
terribly happy about that - but it happens!

I think I've said this before, but in an ideal world, every website would
have 3 versions - 
	a high impact design, full of gadgets, whizzy branding version
	a medium impact design, simpler layout, non-gadget sensibly branded
	a plain text - information only version

These 3 versions would only require one central point of updating (of
course, the high-design version would probably require extra work for
addition of new gadgets etc), which would be handled through a database,
from there, a user would alternatively choose their own version, or it would
be served according to user agent.

Now, please note that I have kept my terms as vague as possible here (what
the hell is whizzy branding when it's at home?), but I think you can build
the picture yourselves. It could of course equally be 5 or 50 different
versions, but I think those 3 fulfill the majority of purposes.

This way, the designers can be happy that they've done their job creating
the best possible brand for the site, the core target users will be happy
because they have some level of control over what they see and the users who
are used to being left out by the excesses of designers will be happy that
they can get the information they need from the site.

Of course the only problem is that someone has to pay for all of this, which
normally is where the entire scheme falls down! Sad as it may be, it's
generally gonna be hard to convince the PHB's (hey - I'm a PHB!) to invest
in a more complicated administration system, when they can pour an extra few
bucks (zlotis, kronor etc...) into the whizzy branding version of the site.

Which is strange really, because in all my experience of designing websites,
the most common users to complain that they can't see this feature or that
feature in their antiquated browsers is the PHB's.

Anyhoo, that's what I think of all this. Sorry, was I rambling again?

I think (again) that this has been a fascinating and valuable conversation.
I remember the time I first ran one of my sites through a speaking browser
and tried to navigate it with my eyes closed. It still sends a chill down my
spine at how much I had taken for granted....

(must learn the meaning of concise!)

   WapWarp - http://wapwarp.com
 Wap-Dev - http://www.wap-dev.net
 Cookstour - http://cookstour.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Jones [mailto:aijones at northcoast.com]
> Sent: den 6 oktober 2000 15:51
> To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
> Subject: RE: [thelist] color blindness
> > The problem with your argument, Andrew, is that EVERY 
> > color scheme except mono is going to affect some segment 
> > of color blind people...
>   My argument is that we should try to accomodate people. I 
> don't see that as a problem.
>   You can *try* to accomodate the most common form of color 
> blindness without ruining your design.
> >but having to make a decision that makes
> > the site better for the MAJORITY of your viewers.
>   Per my 10 percent comment, I don't consider this segment 
> of the population to be insignificant. Your point seems to be 
> that accomodating these people ruins your design. That's true 
> if you only see one way of doing things.
>   Now, about some of these other comments that the color 
> blind perhaps don't see mix-matched colors as ugly. That's 
> good news, but it's a case of "they've never seen the world any 
> other way, so they have no way of knowing what they are 
> really missing." It hits at the very heart of perception. For 
> example, I had a (totally) blind friend in high school who, try 
> as you might to explain it to him, could never understand how 
> a drawn picture could look 3-D. Describing a simple line 
> drawing of a cube to him was an enigma. If you've never 
> experienced it, you may understand it exists, but you'll never 
> fully appreciate it.
>   In that respect, I have to guess it's possible to make 
> adjustments to a color scheme that would make it more 
> attractive to a color blind person than if the colors were left 
> unoptimized.
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