Black and White

​First, some words about the terminology herein…

Regarding the spelling of the word “color”… I apologize in advance to those whose local dialect insists upon it being written as “colour”. My birthplace-biased opinion is that it looks and sounds perfectly fine without the superfluous “u”. And… I am quite drawn to the greater symmetry in the word “color”.

Most people diagnosed as “colorblind” actually see a moderately colorful world. Technically, we are “color-deficient”. To varying degrees, we struggle to distinguish between certain colors. Most of us are not blind to all colors. However, when a passenger in my car tells me to turn right, just past the blue car, the fact that I can see blue under certain ideal conditions does not change the fact that I am completely blind as to where I have been instructed to turn. So, I’m mostly sticking with “colorblind”, because that is how it feels.

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Challenging Careers

Colorblindness is generally described as a minor inconvenience. For many of us this is a vast understatement. I would appreciate your help cataloging a comprehensive list of careers impacted by colorblindness.

Depending upon the type and severity of one’s color vision deficiency, it is difficult to pursue the careers listed below. Even those that successfully enter these professions will likely struggle to be among the top in their field.

I welcome any feedback in the comments, but am particularly interested in the following:

  • Occupations that should be added to the list below, and why.
  • Additional reasons the following jobs are particularly challenging.
  • Uplifting stories of how you overcame obstacles to thrive in these professions.
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A Single Shadow

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It was a rather plain ranch-style house in a modest suburban neighborhood. Two car garage facing the street, basketball hoop centered over its door. Concrete path to the front door. Lawn out to the sidewalk. Nothing special, though the property did have one distinguishing feature.

In the front yard, a tall pine tree edged upon the large lawn. Its base was about a yard in diameter. An expanse of coarse bark stretched from gnarled roots up more than ten yards, without a hint of foliage. There, a branch reached timidly out to a yielding sky. Only a handful of other limbs, sparsely needled, followed its lead for another twenty yards. It was not a particularly attractive tree, but it solidly conveyed its place in a history longer than that of the suburban homes around it…

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Oops, it happened again

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This was the second attempt by colorblindness to kill me…

It started when I began feeling oddly dizzy in the evening. I was recovering from a bug, so thought nothing of it. Two hours later, I collapsed to the floor, unable to get up. I was panting, and completely disoriented. My wife called 911. Not quite willing and able to process the seriousness of my condition, I tried to shrug it off and stand. The fact that I couldn’t even get to my knees was answer enough.

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Blood

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Several decades ago, colorblindness tried to kill me…

My fingers were bones. Nothing more. Thin, knobby, reticulated mechanisms that generally moved at my command, but… they didn’t feel at all connected to me. I touched my hands together… and felt no flesh. I looked at them. My fingers looked longer than usual… and more like claws than fingers.

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Green Trees

Painting by Richard Gayton

Architecture… the assembly of materials by a variety of craftspeople into a unique building that becomes far more than the sum of its parts. Walter Gropius eloquently and romantically referred to architecture as frozen music. After eliminating several career options, largely because of my colorblindness, architecture became my path of choice. I was first exposed to it in a high school drafting course. I was good at drawing, and loved geometric puzzles… which seemed to be important skills of this profession.

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Feeling Blue

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My father drove up to a convenience store, handed me some change, then asked me to run in and get a copy of the latest “Green Sheet”, which I found out later was what locals called the San Diego Tribune. Based upon his description, I assumed that the paper would be green (which, I’m told, it was). Not wanting to seem silly by asking for a more detailed description, I was confident I’d be able to pick out the right paper. I was fourteen. I certainly didn’t need help buying a newspaper.

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Artist

Many artists are colorblind. I would even theorize that the percentage of colorblind artists is higher than in the general population. However, getting through art school can be very frustrating for us. And… the transition to digital art can be particularly challenging.


Stories:
Luke Jerram
In Living Black and White
Paul Scott Canavan

Any other challenges with this career? What’s your story? Reply below…