The challenges of colour blindness in sport

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The challenges of colour blindness in sport

Even if colour blindness (also referred to as colour vision deficiency, or CVD for short) affects approximately one in 12 men (roughly 8%) and one in 200 women, the impact of this condition in the sporting environment is rarely talked about.

Colour Blind Awarness Day is held on 6 September each year, and aims to let the focus fall on raising awareness and dispelling myths about this very common condition.

What is colour vision deficiency?

While some people with CVD have difficulty distinguishing between colours, the experience of having colour blindness varies from person to person. Insofar as it pertains to sport in general, it goes without saying that colour blindness poses challenges to both players and fans.

For example, take a look at this video clip, which shows how players and spectators with CVD might perceive the sporting kits of two opposing teams.

Very few professional players have come out and said that they have CVD, often for fear of not being selected, but there has been growing pressure on stakeholders to address this issue and raise awareness around CVD, and to put measures in place to consider colour-blind people in all aspects of the game.

The FA Cup, in collaboration with Uefa, has authored colour blindness guidelines that are now being adopted by national associations and football clubs in the UK. These include adjustments to sporting kits that might pose difficulties for players and fans with CVD.

Speaking to the BBC, the founder of Colour Blind Awareness, Kathryn Albany-Ward, says that implementing changes to sporting kits is by far the easiest way to take colour-blind players and spectators into account.

“The good news is that implementing procedures to assist and protect those with colour blindness in sport is relatively simple. Much of the time, all that’s needed is a little goodwill and forward planning, and solutions can have positive benefits for teams, fans, sponsors and broadcasters.”

Considering that CVD affects more than 300 million people around the world, these new guidelines for football should certainly be implemented across the board, regardless of sporting code.

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