UniColor Pro ― What is Color Universal Design?

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Universal Design?
Color Universal
Design in Practice
Color Blindness

What is Color Universal Design?

People see color with significant variations. In Japan, there are more than 5 million people in total who see color differently from ordinary people, due to their genetic types or eye diseases. Color Universal Design is a user-oriented design system, which has been developed in consideration of people with various types of color vision, to allow information to be accurately conveyed to as many individuals as possible.

3 (+1) Principles

  1. Choose color schemes that can be easily identified by people with all types of color vision, taking the actual lighting conditions and usage environment into account.
  2. Use not only different colors but also a combination of different shapes, positions, line types and coloring patterns, to ensure that information is conveyed to all users including those who cannot distinguish differences in color.
  3. Clearly state color names where users are expected to use color names in communication.
    +1 Moreover, aim for visually friendly and beautiful designs.

Who is it for?

So-called "colorblind people" (also known as Daltonian, color-weak people, or people with color-vision defects, color-vision deficiencies, or dyschromatopsia) account for the largest proportion of those who have different color vision from ordinary people. In Europe and the US, one out of every 10-12 males and 200 females is believed to be colorblind1 , with a total of over 10 million in the US and around 2 million in the UK. In Japan, one out of every 20 males and 500 females is believed to be colorblind with a total of over 3 million nationwide2 . Globally, more than 200 million people are believed to be colorblind, and this figure is equivalent of the number of males with type AB blood. Colorblind people have normal eyesight (resolving power of the eye) and can also see small objects clearly. For some particular combinations of colors, however, they have different vision from the common-type vision.

Who is it for?

In addition, there are several tens of thousands of people who cannot distinguish any colors and can tell differences in color only by their brightness or darkness. Most of these people also have weakened eyesight. Age-related illnesses such as glaucoma and cataract can affect how we see color as our eyesight weakens. In Japan, there are over 1.4 million cataract patients in total and approximately 5.6% of the population aged 65 or older suffers from the disease. As society ages, the number of such patients tends to increase. Furthermore, diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa can also weaken eyesight. A total of several hundreds of thousands of people are so-called "people with low vision3, with corrected vision of 0.05 or more and below 0.3 in both eyes, who require consideration for not only their weakened eyesight but also simulated views and degrees of contrast.

  • 1 Reimchen, T.E. (1987) Human Color Vision Deficiencies and Atmospheric Twilight. Soc Biol, 34, 1-11
  • 2 Ota, Y. and Shimizu, K. (1999) Shikikaku to Shikikaku Ijou [Normal and Defective Color Vision]. Tokyo. Kanehara Co., Ltd.
  • 3 Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) definitions.

The above excerpt is from EIZO's "Color Universal Design Handbook" which is based on material issued by the Color Universal Design Organization (CUDO), a non-profit organization in Tokyo, Japan.