Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can being color blind keep you from getting a job?

In the UK in 2003 the Disability Discrimination act was passed in order to prevent those with disabilities from being discriminated against during the hiring process. This is a good thing, right? Maybe not. Although the law has practical requirements such as making sure employers make reasonable accomidations for those disabilities somethings cannot be changed. In the case of police officers before 2003, anyone who applied for the police academy was given a physical and if they were found to be colorblind they failed. With the implementation of this act, applicants may now be entered into the academy although once they graduate their positions on the force are limited. In the UK it is the higher ranking officers that are allowed to carry firearms and are trained in rapid response driving courses (think high speed chase or emergency response). Because of the color coded safety (designed by the manufacturer and therefore not something the force can change) those who are color blind cannot carry a firearm and are therefore limited in how high they can go in their carrer.

While not being able to see color may not seem like a big deal, think about how hard it is to describe a suspect without being able to tell the color of their: shirt, pants, hat, hair, eyes, bag (purse or satchel) etc. Personally, my boyfriend is monochromatic color blind (meaning he sees everything only in black, white and gray like old movies) and it can be difficult for him to locate things. Think about how many times in a typical day you give direction by using color; "Where's the mailbox?" "On the corner by that green sedan." or "How do I print this?" "Click on the blue button that says print." or "Honey, can you grab my red jacket for me?" Although he can get by just by knowing positioning (all traffic lights are in the same order) he is still not allowed to do certain things: be an electrician, pilot, or to drive a vehicle if we ever decide to move to Romania.


  1. Very interesting post. I could not imagine seeing the world the way your boyfriend does. Although interesting to understand his world, it must be very challenging. It is very true, as you said, that so many daily events take place using color. To not be able to differntiate between colors, getting by must become frustrating at times. We can take for granted the ability to see color. Going back to the video clip in class today on colorblindness, color is not something we are all given. It definitley makes you appreciate just the ability to see the colors around you.

  2. I couldn't imagine a life without colour. I mean, thankfully they have vision and that is the most important thing, but not being able to appreciate certain scenes or things for lack of colour? Upsetting and Frustrating.

    But then, if you are born that way I suppose you adapt. Thank goodness for the resilient and adaptive nature of the human species.