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Color Blindness Rules for Electricians and Electrical Engineers

written by: Baby Rani • edited by: Swagatam • updated: 2/22/2011

Electrical engineering students with color vision deficiency may go through some troubles, like an inability to interpret color code on resistors or a failure to differentiate circuit trails for drafting multilevel electrical circuit layouts. Can electrical engineers be color blind?

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    The Institution of Electrical Engineers’ fact-sheet on color vision for prospective entrants contains the following:

    “Color coding is widely used in the electronics and electrical engineering industries, and has particularly significant safety connotations. At the domestic level, the changes in color coding of wires for electrical appliances, introduced in the 1960s, was introduced partly to [make use] by color-deficient people safer. Color coding is used to differentiate the magnitude of resistors and capacitors, whilst in the telecommunications industry, extensive use is made of color-coded wires. Errors in identification can have serious consequences."

    In the case of an electrical engineer or an electrician, being color blind can mean opting out of certain jobs and having to seek other jobs in which color vision or recognition of color is not of as much importance.

    • Defective color vision is a safety problem in this job.
    • An individual wanting to be an electrical engineer has to pass a color blindness test in order to qualify for the job.
    • The effect of a color vision deficiency is not substantially reported. Many people do not realize that they are color deficient.
    • There are no international criteria for color vision prerequisites.

    The above points which are listed, regrettably, make it very complex. Many colorblind people consider that they however could execute electrical engineers’/electricians’ job perfectly and that refusing to provide them with their dream job merely based on their color vision deficiency is not right. Some people even begin conceiving cheating ideas on such tests so that they sneak through the exams and get the job.

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    What Are the Color Effects?

    Color issues crop up in several different circumstances in the normal world. For instance, the whirling colors in a soap bubble are formed by interference, a procedure in which light is reproduced from two diverse surfaces very near to each other. Since the bubbles from soap are made of a very thin stratum of soap, the inner and outer surfaces are less than a millimeter off from each other. When light comes upon the bubble, then, it is reproduced from both the inner and outer surfaces of the bubble. The two mirrored rays of light interpose with each other in such a way that a few wavelengths of light are strengthened, while others are offset. It is by this method that the colors of the soap bubble are produced. This example is only to show how colors are formed and how important it is to perceive different colors.

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    Color Test
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    How Do Color Blind People Perceive Color?

    Color blindness is a situation in which people have minor to major trouble discerning colors. People who have color vision deficiency may not be able to distinguish a range of shades of colors, and some may not be able to make out colors at all. In reality a color blind person will be able to see some colors but at the same time they have difficulty in spotting the difference between certain colors. The majority of the people with color vision deficiency are not able to tell the difference between red and green. (For more details please see Ishihara Color Blindness Vision Test). This does not mean that color blind people cannot do any electrical jobs. Just bear in mind the below mentioned points and try to compromise with the fact that colors are not for all.

    Use Acute Colors

    When you are trying to use reds and/or greens, attempt to recognize them with the help of sharper colors. When you use bright and sharper colors then you can tell the difference between a red apple and green grass or even between a red light and a green light. When you attempt to use green-brown or red-brown hues, then you are in for trouble. As a mechanic if you want to use green and red, then make use of a light green and a deep red color since those are the easiest ones to distinguish for the different types of red-green color blindness.

    As an electrical engineer, the most important job is to interpret resistor color codes. If you are going to learn the codes but are not able to read the colors, then it means that you are incapable of being an electrical engineer. Thus it is said that a color blind person can neither be an electrical engineer nor an electrician.

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    Conclusion and References

    As an electrician, your responsibility is to test, fit, and repair the electrical circuits and wires in your business or where ever you go for such work. Carrying out a first install, which is known as a "first fix," includes fitting wiring, circuit breakers, earth terminals, and boxes along with using operating plans to fix sockets and wiring points.


    Vision Standards

    Association of Optometrists - Electrical Engineering

    Ishihara Color Blindness Vision Test