Fooling the Eye

I’m intensely interested in all sorts of accessibility issues, including things that people don’t normally associate with accessibility, even though they are. For example, I was recently amused when I read Explained! Why People Can’t Agree on the Color of that Dress. Yes, the article is one of those sorts of optical illusion discussions that some people find fascinating, but many others don’t. However, it does point to something really interesting for everyone. How we perceive color depends on a lot of factors, not just the actual color. In this case, the factor is backlighting. It’s an interesting article because it points out that under the right conditions, we really can’t be sure that the color we’re seeing is the correct one.

The practical application of all this is that it’s important to understand that our perceptions of the world around us are often based on context. So, whether you’re trying to discover the color of a really wretched dress or that blotch on a piece of fruit, you need to consider the context of whatever you’re seeing. The ability to see color well could be trumped by a whole array of other factors, such as lighting or simply the time off day. Color perception can even be affect by state of mind or tiredness. In short, it isn’t absurd to think that your color vision will sometimes fail to produce the desired result.

The lesson on perception and the use of senses extends far beyond color vision. For example, people’s hearing is often fooled by environmental factors. The senses of taste and touch are equally susceptible to problems with environment or other factors that you might not consider worth thinking about. When something seems a bit too odd for serious consideration, perhaps your senses are simply being fooled. It’s an interesting and important element of the human condition to think about. Tell me about your favorite “Fool the Eye” experience at