Part 10: Color blinds – how to avoid problems

A lot of companies steer their business on deviations. It is no surprise that deviation diagrams are part of a daily or monthly reporting. Sometimes, there is the question on “how do we proceed with employees with amblyopia (debility of sight) in colors like a red green weakness?”

High share of color blinds

The question is valid but why? I general, approximately one of ten men has a red green weakness. When you work in company with 2.000 employees and 1.000 are men, then you have 100 guys who cannot see the difference between a green and red. Women are less prone to color blind because of DNA-advantage but can be as well. To give an example: my wife is color blind because the family of her mother and her father carry the defect in her DNA. She has problems to differ specific hues.

What is a bigger Problem in real life. In one of my consultancy jobs, a customer told me that a manager is color blind but no one is allowed to know it. So even if you think everyone is satisfied with your solution because anybody complaints, it can be not the best solution for everyone.

What is the problem in deviations?

When you have a look at the table below, you see a variance table with absolute and relative variances. The relative variances are interesting for the user and shall be highlighted via traffic lights. Everything higher than +10% is highlighted green, everything < 0% is highlighted red.

When you do not have any problems with color, you see it like in the table on the left hand side. When you do have problems with red and green, you see it like on the right hand side.

How can we solve the problem?

There are several ways to solve the problem. The easiest way is to stop reporting at users with a color weakness. If you cannot pursue this way, than you can have a look at the other two options. The first option is to change the color of the traffic lights from RED/GREEN to BLUE/GREEN. In normal cases this helps a lot. If you want to be completely safe, you change the visualization object from CIRCLE to TRIANGLE. Then it is possible to stay with RED/GREEN because the orientation of the triangle shows the trend as well.

My personal favorite is the second option

My personal favorite is the second option because you can stay with the standard colors RED/GREEN for European employees and persons with color problems see the trend as well because of the orientation of the triangle. In my dashboards and reports, I am used to use triangles and any one ever complained about the visualization.

How to find out if you are color blind?

There is an online test where you can find out if you have any Problems with Colors. I checked it in the past and my test result was negativ. I do not have any Problems with Colors. The test can be done here.


About Tobias Riedner
Tobias Riedner foundet in 2015. He works and worked as innovator, consultant, analyst and educator in the fields of business intelligence and data warehousing. He learned a lot from the best consultants, managers und educators in the past and shares his knowledge worldwide. He works for a steady growing traditional company which is a leader in industry 4.0.