Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Colorblindness and Power Point Slides

Hillary Burgess, Hofstra, mentioned to me that Kathleen Waits, University of Tulsa, (Faculty Profile) had done a posting elsewhere about colorblindness and Power Point slides.  I contacted Kathleen and she kindly povided a guest posting for me to include here.  (Amy Jarmon)

Guest Contributor: Kathleen Waits, University of Tulsa School of Law:

In recent months, I've seen a number of PowerPoints that used a green background - and sometimes used red letters for emphasis.

I'd like to encourage teachers who use Powerpoints to avoid green and red - not just in combination but either at all.  Likewise, turquoise and purple are not great.

A good 5% of men suffer from some form of red and green colorblindness, along with .4% of women.  I learned this a couple of years ago when a student had enough courage to share with me the difficulties he was having in seeing certain fonts and slides.

If you want to see how various colors look to various kinds of colorblind people (almost all colorblindness is in men, although .4% of women are red/green colorblind), you can go to:

But..I've actually hit on an easier solution.  I now do PowerPoints with a dark blue background and white and yellow letters.   EVERYONE can see these colors well. Another option is a "blackboard" style background of dark grey with white and/or yellow letters.  (Again, avoid green, red, turquoise and purple letters.)

And...of could always go with the basic white with black letters.  I don't because dark backgrounds with light-colored letters are more easily read, especially in rooms that are well-lit (as would be the case in most law school classrooms). 

If you somehow must use a red/green/tuquoise/purple background – I’ve learned that the key for the colorblind person is high contrast between background and text.  Therefore, you actually could use any background color (including green, red, purple and other "troublesome" colors) - as long as the background is pretty dark and the text is highly contrasting white or yellow.  The colorblind person wouldn't see the red or green "normally," but could still read the slide perfectly well.

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