10 Cool Things About Being Colorblind

Apr 29, 2015 by

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On Monday, I helped Nathan and one of his classmates with a science project on colorblindness. They planned to focus on Achromatopsia, which causes complete colorblindness. For the first time Nate got the full scoop on his mom’s and his Aunt Sherry’s complicated vision. In the process, I spent a surprising amount of time on a website dedicated to my rare eye disease. I learned something new—that less than 10,000 Americans have Achromatopsia. I’ll never worry about being seen as ordinary again. By the time Nate finished the final slide for his presentation, I’d joined an Achromatopsia Facebook page.

When people find out that I’m visually impaired and considered legally blind, they are most fascinated by my colorless world. It’s hard to make them understand that, having never seen colors, I don’t know what I’m missing out on. It’s also difficult to communicate how I appreciate beauty without color. I am fascinated by colors. When I ask, “What color is that?” I really want to know. I even have a favorite color—red. (Raise your hand if you want to hear the story behind that one.) I don’t know how the rest of you keep colors straight, but I think they are amazing, and I can’t wait to see them someday. I have a very dramatic scene scripted in my head of me on my deathbed and Jesus allowing me to see red before He ushers me to Glory.

It might shock some people to know that there are actually some benefits to living without color vision. Here are a few that I came up with this morning:

  1. I have no problem drinking a smoothie that is supposedly the color of pond scum mixed with fresh lawn clippings. As long as it doesn’t taste like those things, I’ll slurp it right down.
  2. If your clothes don’t match, I won’t notice.
  3. If you meant to go red and ended up orange instead, I also won’t notice.
  4. I will always think you look cute, no matter what horrid shade of pukey green you happen to be wearing.
  5. I don’t judge people by their hair color and makeup choices.
  6. If you start to go gray, I’ll probably just think you added highlights. (For this reason I’ve learned not to ask, “Did you lighten your hair?”)
  7. I don’t sink into despair when the hills turn brown.
  8. While I can’t see colors, I can see patterns (unless the shades are too similar) and really enjoy them. So if you’re wearing a floral-print top and I say, “Oh, that’s so pretty,” I’m not just messing with you.
  9. I love textures. I often wonder if I would appreciate them as much with the colors there to distract me.
  10. I have one more reason to look forward to heaven. (Note: I already have several friends eager to follow me around as I discover colors for the first time. If you’d like to join this group, feel free! The more the merrier! Exact time and place TBA.)

It occurred to me how tempting it is to look at someone who has an obvious challenge (I don’t like the word disability) and focus on all she is missing out on. Creating the list above reminded me that every weakness comes with hidden strengths and benefits woven in. The fun part is finding them.

How has God helped you discover benefits in what some might see as a weakness?


If you are interested in reading more about Achromatopsia, click here.

Jeanette Hanscome 065 B&W copy

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  1. Cheryl Thompson

    Well, that was just the most fun post ever! My world had been enriched by hearing about yours ever since we started hanging out together. Talk about a different perspective…you have it! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      And my world has been enriched by hanging out with you!

      My next challenge will be coming up with a way to weave humor into light sensitivity :).

  2. Cheryl Thompson

    Very cute picture, BTW.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you! My friends Lula took it when she did my author photos the summer before I left Reno.

  3. I have the highest possible color vision so we’re opposites, but we sure have a lot of other things in common. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. What an insightful post from one of the most colorful characters I know. So interesting to consider
    what we might be missing by being distracted by color

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you, Wendy! It touches me that I’m seen as colorful. Who knows, maybe this will work its way into a book someday. 🙂

  5. Julie Elder

    Oh my funny friend, you make me laugh! And I have quite a lot of, er, “highlights” so good to know!

    I’d say that for me, having fibromyalgia always gives me a good excuse to take a nap. 😉

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      And when you get a bit foggy, you can just blame in on the disease. Lucky girl! See, there are blessing in everything if we just take the time to look for them.

      I love your highlights by the way. They’re gorgeous!

      • Julie Elder

        Heeheee!! You appreciate my “highlights” far more than I do. 🙂

  6. Mary Ann Parks

    Jeanette, I am so thrilled to read your sharing in the UPPER ROOM this morning! And to find someone I have so much in common with! I was born with “cone dystrophy” and a stigmatise leaving me with 20/200 vision -correctable to 20/100. My childhood was stigmatised by being in s special “sight saver” class in school-which I HATED all my life! I have “fought” dependence on others and gone to ridiculous lengths “not to bother” others to help me-WRONG”! My love to sew and quilt , but am al-
    ways asking others for ” colour help” with dressing and fabric. Thank you for sharing your story-a God Thing”!!!

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Mary Ann, seeing your comment made my day! It is so rare to “meet” someone with any version of our rare vision problem. I have complete achromatopsia and have never had much luck with distance correction. I attended school in a regular classroom, but each week my sister (who also has achromatopsia) and were taken out of class to work with a special teacher. I didn’t mind that as much as feeling like I created extra work for my regular teacher, and standing out as different.

      Thank you so much for reaching out! I hope we can connect again.

  7. Debbie

    Thanks for reminding me that every weakness/challenge/disability has hidden strengths woven in!

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Sometimes it take a while to recognize them, but it is so exciting when we finally can.

  8. Suzette

    I truly enjoy reading your words. You are a very gifted writer! I would love to hear the story behind your favorite color of red. It’s one of my favorite colors, too! Weird this was, my (former) husband never liked me in red. Years later, a friend commented on how good I look in red, and she said that was him controlling/ belittling me. Things that make you go hmmmmm.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      I am so thankful that someone finally told you how nice you look in your favorite color!

      Thank you for asking to hear the story behind red. I think it is time to write a blog post about that! I’ll give you a hint–it started with the book Anne Likes Red.

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