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Color Laboratory Purpose and Future Directions

Why should I use this tool today?

Web designers are very practiced at selecting a handful of colors to form an attractive and functional web site color scheme. However, few designers are practiced at selecting combinations of colors which are equally functional for color-blind users.

This color laboratory will allow you to select colors, see how they look side-by-side, as well as in every combination of foreground and background color. These views can be presented as seen by users with three different types of color-blindness. In addition, you can simulate a variety of monitor types and combine different monitor types with different vision types.

The interface makes it easy to select web-safe colors, and allows you to enter custom colors as well. Each color will be represented by a swatch, with the other colors you have selected shown as foreground text on the swatch. Links within each swatch provide a convenient means to add different shades of selected colors, or to add color complements. For swatches representing custom colors, a link is provided to add the nearest web-safe color.

This tool is one of the easiest ways to assemble a web site color scheme, and it enables you to develop a color scheme which will leave your web site fully-functional for color-blind visitors.

Why should I use this tool tomorrow?

You should use this tool tomorrow for the same reasons you should be concerned about accessibility generally, and for all of the reasons outlined above, and more....

The next major enhancement to this utility will allow you to see your own content in the color scheme you develop within the color laboratory. You will be able to upload your own web page, or point the color laboratory to your URL, and see what that page looks like in your new color scheme. Additionally, you will have the option to use not the actual colors, but any of the simulated color schemes the color laboratory can cook up. You'll be able to see your own content through color-blind eyes!

Age-related biological changes affect our perception of color, contrast, and brightness. I would like to simulate these changes in the color laboratory. Currently, I have no hard data regarding age-related changes in color perception, so this representation may be simply qualitative and the scale of available options may have little direct connection to any statistical correlation between specific ages and probable deviations from normal vision. If you have any related data, please drop me a line at

If you would like to see specific additional features or interface improvements, or if you notice any bugs or have other suggestions to improve the utility, efficiency, or accessibility of the color laboratory, then I invite your feedback to If your suggestions are likely to benefit most of the tool's users, then they will likely be incorporated. As this tool is maintained by volunteer effort, requests without patches or working code may take more time to apply than those with patches or code. However, both are certainly welcome.

Next: Color Laboratory Audience