Nature 445, 593 (8 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445593c; Published online 7 February 2007

Colour-blindness: how to alienate a grant reviewer

Joseph A. Ross1

  1. Peichel Laboratory, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Mailstop D4-100, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA


With regard to recent Correspondence (Nature 445, 147 & 364; 2007) on the prevalence of scientific figures that are difficult for people with red–green colour-blindness to read, I am compelled to support Chris Miall's position.

As a red-green colour–blind (deuteranope) scientist and graphic designer, I have long campaigned for figures to be accessible to an entire audience. I do so, in part, by leading seminars training my colleagues to create accessible figures.

One of the key resources I employ in this crusade is a website by Masataka Okabe and Kei Ito:

I strongly urge all authors to visit this site, which both describes the need for creating accessible images (including simulations of colour-blindness for those who are curious) and, more importantly, provides instructions for making figures comprehensible to everyone. This includes instructions on how to pseudo-colour images containing red and green fluorescent signals — one of the most hated types of graphic among people with colour-blindness. Authors will find it is surprisingly easy to accommodate the colour-blind when creating figures.

Anyone who needs to be convinced that making scientific images more accessible is a worthwhile task should consider that colour-blindness is common, affecting 5–10% of males. If your next grant or manuscript submission contains colour figures, what if some of your reviewers are colour-blind? Will they be able to appreciate your figures? Considering the competition for funding and for publication, can you afford the possibility of frustrating your audience? The solution is at hand.

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