Emulating Perceptual Experience of Color Vision Deficiency with Virtual Reality

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018;256:378-389.


One of the major goals of Universal Design is to create experiences that are inclusive to all users, including those affected by Color Vision Deficiency. Color Vision Deficiency might have a significant impact on a users' perception of the content or the environment. There is a range of tools already available, that can be used to either aid or automate the process of readability testing for digital interfaces and content in respect to Color Vision Deficiency. Two different approaches to addressing this issue can be found. A brief review of such methodologies is provided in this paper. The first approach (user-end) attempts to solve the problem by altering mediation between the user and the content. The second (design-end) allows the designer to view an image, or color scheme altered to recreate the perceptual experience of a user affected by Color Vision Deficiency and asses the design from the perspective of a color-blind user. With an implemented proof-of-concept we investigate the potential use of Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Displays to employ similar methodology, to allow designers or interior decorators to experience physical environments (i.e.: classroom, library or a cafeteria) from the perspective of a color-blind person. Such tools might increase the designers' empathy towards color-blind users but also allow them to identify visual components, such as infographics or advertisement, in a physical environment that are poorly visible to color-blind users. Such tools could be developed by taking advantage of a modern Head-Mounted Displays six degrees of freedom tracking, a 360 camera and color processing filters applied during post-processing at run-time, allowing a designer to easily switch between different types of colorblindness emulation.

Keywords: Color Vision Deficiency; Color-blindness; Design; Head Mounted Display; Virtual Reality.

MeSH terms

  • Color
  • Color Vision Defects*
  • Humans
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Virtual Reality*