How to Thrive with Complete Color Blindness: Practical Solutions for Daily Life


Total color blindness, also called monochromacy or achromatopsia, is a rare visual condition where an individual cannot perceive color at all. They only see the world in shades of black, white and gray. This is caused by a complete lack of functioning cone cells in the retina, which allow us to detect different wavelengths of light that are interpreted as color.

Living completely colorblind poses substantial daily challenges, but practical adaptive techniques and technology exist to enhance functioning. With support, understanding and clever workarounds, it's possible not just to cope but to thrive with complete color blindness. This article explores various strategies and tools to manage total color blindness in key areas of life. We'll also look at fostering acceptance in others, reframing limitations as strengths, and embracing pride in seeing the world differently. With the right solutions, complete color blindness does not have to be debilitating.

Strategies for Home Life

The home environment is full of colorful objects, appliances, clothes and supplies that can be difficult to navigate without color perception. Implementing some adaptive techniques makes daily home life much more manageable.

Organize Clothes by Texture and Pattern

Rather than organizing clothes by color, create systems based on attributes like sleeve type, length, fabric, style or pattern. Label drawers and bins with descriptions like “Cotton Shirts” or “Silk Scarves.” Hanging clothes categorically or using dividers simplifies finding the right items.

Label Items Clearly

Apply clear, high-contrast labels to appliances, electronics, food containers, medications and anything else that needs to be identified. For those with low vision, use large print, braille labels or tactile symbols. Voice assistant technology can also speak labels aloud when tapped.

Use Color Identifier Apps and Tools

Specialized mobile apps allow those with total color blindness to scan items with their phone camera and receive an audible or tactile readout of the detected color. Portable color analyzers perform similar functions. These tools help accurately identify colors of clothing, appliances, electronics, and more when uncertain.

Optimize Lighting

Ensuring ample, high quality lighting throughout the home maximizes visibility of details for those with low vision especially. Reduce glare, supplement with portable task lighting, use controls on smart bulbs to adjust color temperature and brightness as needed. Proper lighting aids distinction.

Tips for Work and School

Navigating education and employment poses added challenges when color codes and materials cannot be interpreted. But workplace accommodations and classroom modifications exist to provide accessibility.

Request Colorblind-Friendly Accommodations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, those with total color blindness are entitled to reasonable accommodations in school and work. This may include colorblind-friendly image and data formatting, screen color contrast adjustments, extra time on color-coded tasks, modified color-reliant responsibilities etc.

Explain to Colleagues and Classmates

Let coworkers, teachers, and peers know about your color blindness. They can then assist by describing colors of diagrams, double-checking wire colors, helping interpret graphics and more. Most are happy to collaborate if aware of the need.

Use Color Identifier Technology

Portable color readers and smartphone apps allow those with total color blindness to independently scan charts, wires, computer cables and other items and receive an audible or tactile readout of colors. Useful for verifying colors anytime.

Request Alternate Color Formats

Ask educators for accessible alternate versions of materials using textures, shapes, icons, labels or patterns instead of relying solely on colors to convey information. Similarly, employers can provide colorblind-friendly data visualizations. Most are responsive if informed.

Traveling and Getting Around

Traveling independently without the ability to interpret colored signs, maps and signals poses difficulties. But mobile technology, preparation and sighted assistance smooth the way.

Exercise Caution with Traffic Lights

Look for the position of the illuminated light rather than attempting to discern the color. Double check uncertain signals by comparing to other lights. enabling color blind modes on driving apps provides audio alerts for traffic signals. Overall, allow extra time and increased caution.

Ask for Help Reading Maps and Schedules

Request alternate formats of documents like subway maps, flight seat cards and venue guides that don't rely solely on color coding. Travel with a sighted companion when possible who can verbally identify colors. Download navigation apps with voice guidance and color blind modes.

Use Technology to Aid Navigation

Apps like Colorblind Pal provide step-by-step audio guidance for buses, subways, ride shares, airports, etc. Enter start and end points and the app guides you using positional language,landmarks and alerts for color-coded vehicles and lines. GPS innovations increasingly support independent travel for the color blind.

Describe Needed Colors When Booking Travel

When reserving flights, cruises, tours etc., ensure you get a written description of navigational colors used, like airport signage colors or life jacket colors. This allows you to create a helpful color reference for your trip. Supplement by packing high contrast labels or a color analyzer.

Products and Assistive Technology

Specialized color enhancing lenses, portable color readers, and smartphone apps provide assistive technology to aid daily functioning for the totally colorblind.

Specialized Lenses and Glasses

Products like EnChroma lenses have filters designed to enhance color contrast and make more hues perceptible for those with complete color blindness. While not a cure, some report these expand their color vision range and boost distinction. Effects vary based on individual color perception.

Smartphone Apps

Applications like Colorfy use your camera to identify colors in real time through audio descriptions. Others like Chroma convert colors on screen into more distinguishable hues. Some provide symbols or assign audio cues to colors. Apps are available for scanning surroundings and for adjusting device and digital media display.

Portable Color Analyzers

Handheld color identification devices like the ColorDoctor can scan objects or surfaces, then speak or display the color. Some work together with companion apps. Helpful for identifying errant socks, wires, food items, skin tones and other color-dependent objects.

Augmented Reality Innovations

Emerging augmented reality tools like Aire Glass allow those with color blindness to sense color through audio cues. The technology converts hues picked up by the camera and maps them to associated sounds, like a yellow siren for yellow objects. This shows promise for creatively enhancing color perception.

Fostering Understanding in Others

While adaptive technologies and strategies are key, cultivating acceptance and compassion in family, friends, colleagues and community also empowers those living colorblind.

Explain Color Blindness

Gently educate those close to you about total color blindness - what it means, what you can and cannot perceive, and specific ways they can provide assistance in situations dependent on color discernment. The more allies comprehend your experience, the more support they can offer.

Advocate Accessibility

Provide respectful feedback to organizations, employers, schools, designers and businesses on steps they could implement to increase accessibility for the color blind. Your insider perspective helps influence more conscious color use and inclusive adaptations.

Connect with Role Models

Seeking out adults with total color blindness thriving in their careers and passions provides inspiration and proof that color perception is not requisite for success and fulfillment. Find communities that celebrate overcoming limitations.

Share Your Story

By illuminating your lived experiences as someone with complete color blindness, you build public understanding and empathy around this rare condition. Challenging assumptions that color blindness is just a minor nuisance takes advocacy.

Embracing the Positives

While total color blindness imposes difficulties, this unique perspective also gifts some unexpected strengths. Reframing deficits as advantages fosters empowerment.

Enhanced Night and Low Light Vision

Many with complete color blindness report excellent night vision and visual acuity in low light conditions. Due to neuroplasticity, their eyes maximize available light to bolster detail and contrast detection. This ability to navigate in the dark becomes a “superpower.”

Attunement to Textures and Details

Without colors to focus on, those with total color blindness often develop enhanced attentiveness to textures, patterns, shapes and subtle details. Their worldview cultivates heightened visual discernment skills alternatively valuable.

Unique Problem Solving Skills

Adapting to color blindness fosters creative problem solving, innovation and resourcefulness. Navigating the world differently builds a cognitive toolbox of solutions that enable entrepreneurial thinking.

Pride in Diverse Perspective

Being unable to perceive color provides a rare and insightful view of the world. Framing their different vision as diversity, not deficiency, allows the color blind to take pride in their unique perspective.


Total color blindness imposes challenges, but practical adaptive techniques, understanding and positive reframing empower the colorblind to confidently navigate life. With the right tools and support, complete color blindness does not preclude achievement or happiness.

In fact, the color blind community has much to contribute to society if granted proper accommodations and platforms. By implementing the right strategies for their specific needs, the colorblind can craft accessible homes, schooling, careers and pursuits. Just a little more awareness and compassion from others smooths the way.

When framed as enriching diversity rather than limiting deficiency, the unique view of those with complete color blindness offers valuable insights we all benefit from. By pooling collective knowledge and embracing our perceptual differences, we can build a more inclusive society.