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  • Writer's pictureMARK CONNOLLY

Not that I can see the colors...

One of my cousins passed away unexpectedly a couple weeks ago. I know it seems silly but one of the ways that I began to process no longer being able to see him was looking back at some of his old instagram posts. He was an avid explorer of the world but always tried to share back his view of it back with all of us.

There was one post that I couldn't help but resonate with more than others. My cousin posted this beautiful picture of a San Francisco state building that was lit up with beautiful colors at night.

A stunning picture in it's own right, but what my cousin said was even more powerful. He commented "Not that I can see the colors, but I enjoy knowing they're there."

"Not that I can see the colors, but I enjoy knowing they're there."

See my cousin was colorblind. But even though he couldn't fully see the colors in the scene, he found joy in the beauty they brought to the world. It was this thought that helped me process that while I may not be able to see him anymore, it doesn't mean that he's not there.


This also inspired my latest data viz on being mindful of colorblindness when developing new data visualizations.

Approximately 8% of men suffer from some form of colorblindness. A smaller percentage of women suffer from this (difference in prevalence due to XY vs XX chromosomes). While it would be great if everyone could process the color in your dashboards the same - we can't assume this is the case. I, for example, struggle with the RedGreen and RedPurple combinations in the viz at the end of this post.

Even if there are client requirements for red/green indicators for performance, there are ways to differentiate performance for the colorblind including using outlines, shapes, and text. You can also find several different color palettes that are still red/green but more colorblind friendly than others.

I hope to have a future post diving into this in more detail, but for today - just the reminder to be mindful of color in your next viz is enough.

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