“In the morning when I select my clothes it is a problem, I do not know whether the shirt I take is green or red or blue…” – this challenge of identifying well the colours should sound familiar to some of you or your friends and family members. Did you know that ca. 10% of males are colourblind? Ever thought about the impact? Selecting clothes, colour distinction in traffic lights and coloured metro lines in the maps… Colours indication is used in many sectors and often they are important differentiators, also in the health sector.
When Miguel Neiva, a real amazing and very successful social entrepreneur from Portugal, who has developed a symbol based language for identifying colours, joins me in India for a leadership week our managers from all over the world are impressed when they learn about colourblindness and Miguel’s solution. It is easy to understand with the special paper glasses and the solution is simple and fascinating. For the three main colours exists one symbol each. A universal understandable colour language – also for those who see the colours. The symbols can be combined as the colours can be mixed. “Colourblindnes is still a tabu, there is a huge lack of awareness, even in the modern world,” Miguel says.
In the afternoon we meet some kindergarten and primary school teachers of the rural surroundings, living here in the surroundings close to Coimbatore.
When we arrive, they already expect us. They are very excited, they just know that Miguel – will join them and tell them about colours.
It is a new experience, an unusual one – for the teachers and for us
have you ever taught to someone from a completely different culture, country and social background? For the ladies, but also to Miguel and myself it is the first time to try if and how it can work. We have “three languages and two completely different worlds in one room”. It is an amazing hour for all of us.
We are proud that they can understand and get very excited about the solution and opportunity to know what others do not. The glasses and exercises are a really way to communicate. Pictures and the “tangible” material Miguel uses are understadbale by everone. Miguel explains the problem of colour blindness and impact this can have just by giving them the glasses, asking them to find the right pencils. Understanding is key. Then he shows his solution and how to apply it. It is a teaching lesson,and it is a lot of fun, too – for everyone in the room. It is an incredible emotional moment for all of us.
Spreading colourblind awareness and finding ambassadors of this idea
Miguel is the first time in India and it is his first time to explain to Indian people about his idea and concept. We did not go to a huge university or conference, but to the teachers.Not the leaders and professors, but the people living in the villages. Why? Because if they understandit, everyone can understand. If they get excited, there is a chance to make this idea a real success.
When we tell them that they are the first to learn it , they smile at us and are very proud. I’m pretty sure that they will become ambassadors of Miguel’s ideas and the colourblindness solution.
The starting point is done. There is still a huge way to go to make more people aware about colourblindness. But we are sure that – if people understand- it will become a real help for all: for colourblind people and also the others.
Learning by doing and simply starting instead of planning all details – in a country with so many people and different cultures you definetly can’t . So just do it – that’s probably the best way if you want to change the world.