Colour for the colour blind – The ColourAdd system


With colour being used for communication so much in day to day life, let alone if your a graphic designer, colour blindness must post regular challenges for those affected by the condition.

With the ColourAdd system, recognizing and utilizing colour is now possible.

The system proposed is based on the search of the color, not the light color RGB Ð (R, red; G, green and B, blue), because the colorblind person does not possess the correct vision of the colors, nor a tangible knowledge of how their addition works.

The system proposed is based on the pigment colour, using as basis the primary colours: BLUE (cyan), RED (magenta), YELLOW.

In addition to primary and secondary colours, symbols for white and black allow users to expand their colour range into the dozens, as well as using shades of grey and specialty symbols for gold and silver.

code base


train route map

wrist bands


Very intuitive.

I posted an article some time ago on Logo designs not for the colour blind. It looks like they may soon be using colour after all.

9 thoughts on “Colour for the colour blind – The ColourAdd system”

  1. Do you know how far along this system is? How widely accepted it is? What the future plans are?

    My husband is significantly (almost entirely) colorblind…. This fascinates me. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Alicia,

    The system itself is finished according the site. There is information in their news section of the beginning of its implementation in Europe around June 2009.

    It was been presented in Australia in September, nothing I could see regarding England at this stage I’m afraid.

  3. Hello,

    I am the author of this project and now I can say that the ColorADD® system started (March 2010) to be used by Portuguese companies with an international dimension.

    It was first necessary to secure the acceptance and recognition of this system throughout the world community. 2009 was the year of raising awareness of the ColorADD®system. It is now ready to be adopted.

    I am very interested in making contact with international companies and organizations interested in implementing the system in their products, where color is a factor of identification, guidance and choice.
    It is undoubtedly a tool of inclusion and a strong argument for social responsibility and sustainability.

    my contact details are, or Facebook

    Best regards,

  4. Thanks for the contact details Miguel, hopefully Alicia can get in touch with you regarding her enquiries.

  5. Are you yourself colorblind Andrew? I’m colorblind, but I want to go to school for graphic design. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do it :S What are your thoughts?

  6. Gabriel,

    I’m not colour blind, so I don’t have any first hand advice for you I’m afraid.

    I can only imagine it would present challenges depending on exactly what area of graphic design your interest in.

    Having said though this might be your golden opportunity, you could be a graphic designer specialising in design for the colour blind? I don’t imagine there’s a lot of competition in that niche?

    I’d certainly never try and talk someone out of something they’re interested in, especially something I’ve enjoyed so much, like graphic design.

    If you’re interested in it, I’d definitely look further into it. Maybe approach one of your local education providers and see what they say? I hope that’s of some help?

    I’d be very interested to know how you go with it…

  7. I am a colorblind graphic designer. I confuse pink with gray, yellow green with yellow, purple with blue, brown with green. I think that symbols can be confusing. If you have a yellow band on a bracelet, spell out the world yellow in black text on it. Stick to the three primaries with black and white vs. mixtures like green, brown, purple etc. The majority of Colorblind people are red-green color deficient.

    Symbols are very helpful, I am not against symbols, but they can be very confusing if not simple, well thought-out and instantly readable. Text can eliminate all possibilities…

  8. Jim,

    Thanks for the first hand perspective. Regarding your comment:

    I am not against symbols, but they can be very confusing if not simple, well thought-out and instantly readable.

    You think these are too complicated? Nothing simpler than 3 primary colours symbols plus black or white where necessary comes to mind for me?

    Text is obviously unmistakable as you say, but I would think these symbols offer more flexibility. I’m not sure how people would feel about having the titles of colours slapped over everything they own. An inconspicuous little icon on the other hand might be perfect?

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