What Does Colored Paper Have to Do With Macular Degeneration?

Hi, I am back. This time I hope to do an entire page on colored paper and how color is important to the visually impaired.

Color contrasting paper

Last time I mentioned the “visually impaired" paper I buy is neon green, yellow, and pink. I was given colored overlays when I was working with my vision habilitation person. I forgot to mention most electronic magnifiers have different settings that contrast black and bright colors such as red, yellow, and green.

Contrast and neon colors

That word contrast is what this interest in neon colors is all about. We all know age-related macular degeneration gives us fits in low contrast situations. When I first started this journey I nearly sprained an ankle when I missed a step. Brown carpet and brown linoleum don’t contrast well at all.

RNIB's article on color and contrast

Now, back to our brethren at the RNIB. Their article on choosing color and contrast for printed materials to aid people with visual impairments - that’s us guys - has all sorts of good information. Much of it is for preparing documents for the visually impaired but we, the VIPs of the world, can use some of it as well.

The good folks at the RNIB remind us that one size does not fit all. Different color combinations are preferred by different people. That is the reason I was offered a whole pallet of colors of acetate sheets when we were first trying to optimize the sight I had left.

What is tint?

Text should never be printed in a low percentage of a tint. Tint is defined as the amount of the solid color that is present in the ink. For example, baby blue is a tint of “true” blue. How many times have you been online and been unable to read an article because the ink is some designer color? Seafoam green comes to mind for me.

Dark text with a light background

As a rule, black on a lighter background is your best bet for contrast. If you must use a “non-black” for the text, make sure that the ink color is as dark as possible. Yellow text should be avoided at all costs. Of course, that is if you expect pretty much any one to read it!

Light text on a dark background

The tint idea can work in reverse when you are trying to put a light ink on a dark background. Often dark backgrounds will “bleed through” and reduce the contrast. It is recommended that you print the background and let the originally light-colored paper shine through to make the letters.

Depending upon different colors to provide contrast is a questionable practice. Don’t you “love” green and brown next to one another? Not!

What does neon have to do with it?

And the neon paper I started out with? Well, I am not an expert on light by any means, but I think that has something to do with the concepts of tonal contrast and luminosity contrast. Tonal contrast has to do with how light or dark things appear as compared to one another. Luminosity contrast is the amount of light reflected from one surface as compared to the amount of light reflected from another surface.

Hot pink, neon paper contrasted with black ink? Yep. I do believe that explains it.

In short, make sure whatever you produce on paper provides lots of contrast. After all, you do want to be able to read what you have written!

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