Color recognition code associates shapes with colors

Hand touching a board of color code shapes
Shape Code Makes Colors Accessible

Think of all the instances in society where color recognition is essential. Correct identification of traffic signals when driving, appropriate workplace outfits and presentation, careers in fashion, architecture, or design – all of these areas require knowledge and recognition of colors. Even many recreational activities encourage being able to recognize colors, such as any sport that utilizes a referee system including yellow or red cards, or sports that include following colored paths, such as gym rock climbing.

Currently, people with visual impairments such as partial blindness or color blindness have ways for working around barriers such as these. Yet what if there was an established, universally recognized, code for conveying colors to people with visual impairments? Filipa Nogueira Pires, founder of the Feelipa Color Code, is presenting the world with just that. According to the website, “Feelipa is a color identification system developed to bring greater independence to people who just see the world a different way.” The code relies on associating colors with geometric shapes. The primary colors are associated with the most common shapes; a square represents red, a triangle represents yellow, and a circle represents blue. Representing more complex colors requires combining shapes to create other shapes in the same way that colors can be mixed to create other colors.

In the video below, which further explains the Feelipa Code, Pires explains, “If you mix red and yellow, we make orange. Therefore, by drawing the square and triangle together [represented visually in the video], we get the shape that represents orange.” Taking the code a step further, black gray and white are represented by stacked lines. This allows for the code to also express how colors change when white or black is added to them – the lines that represent white or black are added to the affected color. The complete code fully represents the color chromatic palette. The key to the code is its simplicity and ability to be universally recognized. According to the code’s website, the World Health Organization states that “there are 285 million people in the world with some kind of severe visual impairment.”

Pires prompts viewers to consider the potential implications of the code. She explores the possibility of adding the color-indicating shapes to toys, clothes, and even markers or pens. Taking this idea and running with it, the options are endless. Color differentiations in medications could be indicated through shape. Make-up palettes could be universally recognizable as well. It is my understanding that many visually impaired or color blind people have personal methods for dealing with these barriers, such as adding specific color-identifying buttons or labels to clothes, yet imagine if clothes came with these labels already, and that everyone could recognize them.

The full Feelipa Color Code can be viewed in PDF format and Feelipa Color Code labels are available for sale in the Feelipa Shop.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted In Rights.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.