Following the social responsibility policy of Klépierre, owner and manager of more than 100 shopping centres in Europe, they have partnered with ColorADD, “a core system that allows identifying colours through graphic symbols, making the experience of people with colour blindness more inclusive, safe and easy.”
“After the code was implemented in Espaço Guimarães, it was time for the shopping centre of the Barlavento Algarve to be part of this initiative. The code has been implemented throughout Aqua shopping centre, from the car park to various areas of customer use and even through to recycling bins.”
Colour vision deficiency affects 350 million people globally (about 10 percent of the male and 0.5 percent of the female population). Colours are an essential element of identification, guidance or choice and this tool is universal and transversal and allows a more inclusive and accessible world for all. In a world where 90 percent of communication is done through colour, this initiative aims to increase universal accessibility, providing greater comfort and safety to the colour blind public.
At the event, I met the creator and founder of ColorADD, Portuguese designer, Miguel Neiva who in 2000, set out to create a simple, universal and inclusive colour identification system for people with colour vision deficiency, not knowing the impact it would have all around the world. He strongly believes in building a world where the social inclusion of people with colour vision deficiency becomes the norm. “I started ColorADD because I felt like society had forgotten colour blindness. Unfortunately, there is no cure and the stigma is still there, so it was also important to raise awareness through education.”
At the Aqua presentation, we were joined by primary school children from Portimão’s Colegio do Rio who participated in various colour activities whilst wearing a pair of chromatic filter glasses. The use of the filter glasses was to realise the huge impact that this visual disturbance has on daily life. Miguel told me that “I wanted people to actually be able to experience what is like to be colour blind rather than just hearing about it, they could experience it for themselves through these lenses.” He affirmed that “these activities are important, educating children also teaches adults and raises awareness.”
We discussed the stigma attached to colour blindness and its impact on self-esteem with “41 percent feeling it is difficult to integrate into society.” I learnt from Miguel that “people with colour blindness suffer in silence and he explained that children will often hide it at school by forgetting their colouring pencils at home and asking to borrow certain colours at school.” Additionally, a staggering proportion of colour blind people only get diagnosed in their 20s with Miguel explaining that “83 percent had their colour-blindness undetected up to the age of 20”. Miguel’s message spoke volumes: “Our world is one of colour but we need to facilitate colour for those who have colour vision deficiency and that they should not be limited by society and we should be sensitive to others.”
How the code works
ColorADD is a universal language which aims to gives autonomy to the colour blind public by representing the three primary colours (blue, yellow and red) through graphic symbols. Through the acquired knowledge of the “Colour Addition Theory” symbols can be related and the entire colour pallet identified. Black and White indicating dark and light tones. “It becomes a mental game easy to memorise and use in daily situations.”
Miguel stated “We want this initiative to be a contribution to improving and simplifying the lives of all who, by their vision characteristics - colour blindness - are deprived of doing with independence and tranquillity any act where colour is a determining factor.
Where is the code already implemented?
ColorADD has a partnership with more than 300 companies and entities, with more than 75 countries in direct contact with the code. “With more than 100 million ColorADD labels in clothing, textiles and shoes (including catalogues), over 6 million colouring pencils with the code, textbooks, transport systems (for example signage and maps), Cities and Municipal Administration (for example tourism maps, events and public accessibility, recycling bins with the code in signage, beach flags, schools, libraries, among several others). Health Care and Hospitals (accessibility and pharmaceutical labelling), food retailers (nutrition traffic light label), football & sports (wayfinding & safety signs) and games like UNO.”
They have also created a helpful app which is in English and Portuguese called ColorADD-The Color Alphabet which includes real-time colour detection and colour recognition as well as colour recognition of phone gallery images. It is a solution that provides independence and autonomy in the day-to-day life of colour blind people, complementing the presence of the ColorADD code in products and services. The app can be downloaded on the App Store or on Google Play.