capsule review

Find the Name of That Hard-to-See Color With Colorblind Assistant

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Colorblind Assistant

    PCWorld Rating

    A free, basic color picker, Colorblind Assistant provides human-readable names for colors.

Colorblind Assistant
Colorblind Assistant isn't fancy, but it helps color-blind users distinguish light brown from light green.
Color blindness is not a serious condition for most people who have it, but it can still be annoying. My own color blindness--called protanopia, also known as "red-green" color blindness--makes it difficult for me to distinguish between green, yellow, and red colors. When I pick color schemes for designs, I avoid embarrassing mistakes by using Adobe Kuler or ColorSchemer Studio. But even with these tools, communicating about colors was still a challenge--until I found the free Colorblind Assistant.

Colorblind Assistant
Colorblind Assistant tells users with red-green color blindness that this cover is "deep sky blue," not light pink as it may appear to them.
Colorblind Assistant is a very basic color picker, with one important twist: It gives each color a human-readable name. So I can place my mouse cursor over a recent PCWorld magazine cover displayed on my screen, and be able to say in confidence that it is a deep sky blue, and not light pink (as it appears to me). If I'm talking to someone on the phone or writing an email message about color picks for a design, I can now say that a design element is orange without fear that it is actually green.

Colorblind Assistant can be useful even if you aren't color blind: Applications such as F.lux change the screen's color temperature to suit the time of day, so Colorblind Assistant can come in handy if you just want to make sure that the red you're seeing is really red, without disabling F.lux.

The human-readable names that Colorblind Assistant picks aren't always names I would use in conversation, but they steer me in the right direction. I may not tell someone that I want a logo in "Fire Brick Red," but I may use something like "deep red" (and not "dark brown"). Apart from those names, Colorblind Assistant also shows RGB values, brightness, saturation, and Hex color codes.

Colorblind Assistant is strictly a one-trick pony. If you're looking for a powerful color picker and you aren't color blind, you'll be much better off with the excellent ColorPic, which also lets you save color swatches for later reference. But for color-blind users, being able to put names to colors is an invaluable feature--I can only wish for a smartphone app that did the same thing.

Note: Colorblind Assistant is free, but the author accepts donations. The download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

--Erez Zukerman

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A free, basic color picker, Colorblind Assistant provides human-readable names for colors.

    Pros

    • Provides human-readable color names
    • Free

    Cons

    • No way to freeze currently selected color
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