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Harness CS4's accessibility features for your design projects

Added on Tuesday 17th of March 2009 12:48 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Not only do you need to worry about your images’ color matching your output device, but you also need to consider those individuals with color-deficient vision and how they see your images. CS4 makes previewing for colorblindness easy so you can make sure your images’ colors are aesthetically pleasing to all.


To create color-pleasing images for all ranges of color sight, we’ll:

       Explain briefly the differing degrees of color blindness Photoshop CS4 can simulate.

       Show you how to soft proof your images in Photoshop CS4 for these two common forms of color blindness.

       Provide you with some tips on how you can make your images more visually appealing to your colorblind audience.


Any amount of color blindness hinders the ability for viewers to discern between certain colors in your designs. Therefore, what looks like a different color to most people simply blends into the background for those with color-deficient vision. Photoshop CS4 makes it easier to make your web and print designs accessible to those with differing degrees of color blindness.


Color in their world

There are differing degrees of color blindness, ranging from the very rare complete color blindness (characterized by a total lack of color vision) to the more common partial color blindness, where individuals have deficiencies in certain hues, such as red and green.

In supporting Color Universal Design (CUD), Photoshop CS4 includes soft proofing features that simulate color blindness. In the U.S., “one out of every 10-12 males and 200 females is believed to be colorblind,” according to the Color Universal Design Organization. For more information on CUD, visit Specifically, you can now see what your image will look like for people with the two most common types of color blindness: protanopia and deuteranopia, which are both forms of dichromacy, where one cone cell type is missing from the individual’s retinas.

            Protanopia. Individuals with this deficiency have an absence of red cone cells.

            Deuteranopia. Individuals with this deficiency have an absence of green cone cells.


New CS4 accessibility options

Before you commit to a design color scheme, it’s wise to investigate how people with color deficiencies will see your images. Photoshop CS4 makes it a little easier to check for CUD-compliance with these new accessibility options.



To check for CUD-compliance:

1.          Choose Window > Arrange > New Window for file name to preview your original image alongside the soft proof.

2.          Repeat step 1 so you have three open windows of the same i...