Colour blindness can make web browsing difficult: colours merge into one, making images appear dull and fonts hard to read. And it affects millions of people in the UK, with the NHS stating that red-green colour vision deficiency impacts “around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women”. One Google Chrome extension claims to make the online lives of colour blind people easier, but does it actually help?
The plugin is called Colorblind – Dalton (which we’ll call Dalton for short) and it’s available to install from here. And, judging by the glowing reviews, it seems to be effective. “I would recommend it for anyone who is colour blind,” wrote one user.
How Dalton works
Once installed, a small “D” icon will appear in the far-right of the Google Chrome toolbar. We’d then recommend navigating to a website you visit every day – such as, to pick a site a random, The Big Tech Question – and clicking on the icon. The following options will pop up…
First, you need to toggle the switch in the top-right corner of the box to switch Dalton on. As the plugin explains, you should then choose the row with the fewest visible letters, before toggling the “colour adjustment” and “severity” sliders until you can differentiate between colours on your chosen website.
Not sure what those subheadings mean? Here’s a short explainer, with the definitions taken from the Colour Blind Awareness site (for more information, scroll down to the bottom of this article).
- Deuteranomaly: “A reduced sensitivity to green light… the most common form of colour blindness.”
- Protanomaly: “A reduced sensitivity to red light.”
- Tritanomaly: “A reduced sensitivity to blue light and is extremely rare.”
And that, theoretically, is it. Through trial and error with the sliders, Dalton should help you to consume online content more easily.
However, not being colour blind myself, I can’t judge the extension’s efficacy. That’s where you came in…
To find out how effective Dalton is for colour blind people, our co-editor Tim Danton put out a call on Twitter:
Are you colour-blind? We’d like to write about a Chrome plugin that supposedly helps, so would like someone to try it out…— Tim Danton (@timdanton) July 30, 2019
The responses were mixed. Stuart Clennett put the extension through its paces by switching it on during an Ishihara test from Enchroma, but ultimately found it lacking:
I can see a subtle diff in images when ext. is toggled on some sites. Made no difference to result from https://t.co/pwzQxLs0ns. Took test 4 times, 2 with, 2 without. Results = Moderate Protan x 3 + Strong Protan (which was with ext. enabled). #Meh— stuart/clennett (@stuartclennett) July 30, 2019
Meanwhile, another respondent found that Dalton altered the results in the same test for the better:
Using Enchroma colour-blind test: Strong Deutan (without app), Mild Deutan (with app).— Owen S. (@pollytickled) July 31, 2019
However, Owen had reservations about the plugin’s artificial nature:
My initial feeling was that it made everything feel a little washed out, and a bit forced maybe? I.e. I was able to see the difference between similar shades of green, but it felt contrived rather than natural. Granted, I knew the effect was from app so difficult for it not to!— Owen S. (@pollytickled) July 31, 2019
So does Dalton win a place in Owen’s toolbar?
Might have to play a bit with the settings first!— Owen S. (@pollytickled) July 31, 2019
So, as you would expect, the only way to really find out if Dalton works for you is to install it and get sliding. Let me know how you get on in the comment section below.
To learn more about colour blindness, including how to find out if you have it, we recommend visiting the dedicated NHS page.
Another port of call should be Colour Blind Awareness, a UK-based non-profit that was set in 2010 to “raise awareness of the needs of colour blind people in the community”. Its website includes reams of advice for colour blind people and their parents, as well as for teachers and businesses.
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