Growing up, I loved anything to do with art. I attended different art schools from elementary to college, but one particular issue always caused me trouble: I am color blind. About 10 percent of all people have some form of color sight deficiency. I live with deuteranomaly, which means that I have red-green color blindness. My sight doesn’t detect enough green, so in certain light, colors that are green, yellow, red, orange, and brown end up looking very similar. I see a rainbow as yellow-orange fading into blue, and for years I even confused Microsoft’s official colors.
This was a challenge for not only my art interests, but also just using a computer. I researched for the longest time for different software to better assist me in color differentiation. After updating my computer to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, I was speechless when I saw color filters, designed to help color blind people distinguish certain colors on their screen, as a setting within Windows 10! For the first time, I could see what others see on a computer!
Ever since that day, the color filter on my Windows devices has been permanently turned on. When I talk to others who also have color blindness, they are shocked to find out that there’s a whole world of possibilities to see on their computer, because of the Fall Creators Update. I love to tell this story and educate everyone I meet that there are so many eye-opening features under the Ease of Access setting in Windows 10.
Types of color filters
The settings for color filters in Windows change how your computer displays colors, to accommodate the different color blindness types and individual needs. It offers six filters:
- Deuteranopia – For red-green color blindness, adds focus on green hues
- Protanopia – For red-green color blindness, brightens the red hues
- Tritanopia – For blue-yellow color blindness, enhancing blue hues
- Grayscale – Converts colors to black/white/gray shades
- Inverted – Converts colors to their color wheel “opposites” (red becomes aqua, blue becomes yellow, green becomes magenta, etc.)
- Grayscale Inverted – Like grayscale but reversed, as with a photo negative
The first time I turned on the Deuteranopia filter, I noticed a huge difference distinguishing colors when browsing different websites and the photos I edit. My deficiency with green hues seemed to be nonexistent!
Turning on Color Filters
To select and apply a color filter that fits you best, let’s make our way to the Ease of Access area in Settings. This is only available within the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. (Do you need to update? Here’s how to find out, and how to update to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.)
Start by selecting Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Color & high contrast.
Under the Choose a filter bar, there’s a drop-down menu with the different type of filters. Select the one that best fits your type of color deficiency and turn on the Apply color filter switch.
If you don’t know exactly what your color deficiency is, or if you haven’t had it diagnosed, try out the different filters. There are many options available to check out these filters, such as opening a photo or searching for a colorful photo online to use as a guide and see which filter helps you the most!
Notice, there is also a High contrast setting, which changes text colors to maximize contrast and visibility. The color filters change every color your computer displays, while the High contrast setting only applies to text colors. If you find you sometimes have trouble reading text because there’s not enough color contrast, try these settings and see if any of them help.
Accessibility has long been an important part of Windows – there have been features and settings including a screen reader, screen magnifier, keyboard and mouse settings, and more, for many versions. For me, the color filters in Windows 10 helps me achieve more as a colorblind artist.
Albert Sanchez, a Product Advisor at the Microsoft Store in Portland, Ore., has used Windows since Windows NT. He continues pursuing digital art and photography, using his Surface as his art canvas.