BERKELEY, Calif.—Color blindness is an obstacle to learning for many students, according to a newly released study by EnChroma, creators of glasses for color blindness. The landmark study, conducted in early 2020, polled nearly 1,000 color blind people and parents of color blind children about how Color Vision Deficiency (CVD) affected their educational experiences. It found that 78 percent of respondents were often frustrated or confused by colors in school assignments and activities. One in three said color blindness affected their confidence in school, and 30 percent felt like they might be a “slow learner” before discovering they were color blind.

The survey results indicate that schools are failing to identify color blind students. Only 11 of 50 states test for CVD, according to EnChroma. Consequently, many students don’t realize they are color blind. The survey data showed that nearly half of color blind people said they didn’t learn they’re color blind until after seventh grade, almost one in three while in high school or later, and one in five don’t find out until after high school or college.

“The evidence is overwhelming that color blindness creates learning challenges for color blind students and that parents, educators, and politicians must become more aware of the prevalence of color vision deficiency, and its impact, and take action,” said Erik Ritchie, CEO of EnChroma, who called color blindness “an underground condition.” He added, “Too many kids go deep into their educations without the student, their parents or teachers knowing they’re color blind. Testing for color blindness has to become universal in schools in all states and countries, and learning materials adapted to accommodate and create a level playing field for CVD students.”

One in 12 men (8 percent) and 1 in 200 women (.5 percent) are color blind—13 million in the U.S., 30 million in Europe, and 350 million worldwide, according to EnChroma. For them, understanding colorful information in school, at work and in daily life can cause obstacles.

While people with normal color vision see over one million shades of color, the color blind only see an estimated 10 percent of hues and shades. Common color confusions include green and yellow, gray and pink, purple and blue, and red and brown, with colors appearing muted and dull. Since 80 percent of information is conveyed visually, this creates issues for color blind students.

Numerous universities plan to offer EnChroma glasses to color blind students to borrow on their campuses, and to educate staff to adapt materials to accommodate CVD students. They include Boston University, North Carolina State University, Alfred University and Francis Marion University, with others joining soon.

“A teacher discovered I was color blind in the third grade. Up to that point I was often referred to as 'stupid' because I couldn’t color primary colors correctly,” said one color blind survey respondent. Another respondent said, “I was unable to pass chromatography lessons in organic chemistry because I couldn't distinguish the colors accurately. I had to drop the class and eventually change majors.”

Highlights from the EnChroma survey include:

  • 4 out of 10 color blind students try to avoid schoolwork and activities involving color, and nearly half are less interested in painting, drawing, nature walks and field trips to art museums.

  • More than 1 in 3 color blind people say teachers got frustrated with them when they couldn’t understand schoolwork involving color.

  • Only 1 in 4 parents tell teachers that their child is color blind, and only 20 percent of teachers adapt schoolwork to accommodate color vision deficient students.

  • 81 percent believe teachers should adapt teaching materials for color blind students.

  • 87 percent support mandatory testing of schoolchildren for color vision deficiency.

  • 1 in 4 were teased by classmates or teachers due to being color blind.

  • 2 of 3 parents worry about color blindness affecting their child’s education.
EnChroma encourages schools to quickly and easily test students in under two minutes for color blindness via a free online test available here and at To read comments from color blind respondents about their educational experiences click here.

EnChroma advocates for “color accessibility” through its EnChroma Color Accessibility Program. The program helps public venues, schools, state parks, libraries, museums, and other organizations purchase and loan EnChroma glasses to color blind students and guests to help make schoolwork that involves color, colorful exhibits, attractions and/or experiences accessible to the CVD.
In addition to the company's free color blindness test, EnChroma also offers materials for schools to share with teachers, parents and students to educate them about color blindness, its effects, and how to support color blind students. EnChroma offers a similar program for employers.