Why is the sky purple?


Many a youngster has asked this question. Some responses might be that it is a reflection of the ocean, or as NASA puts it: Purple light is scattered in all directions by tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Purple is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves.

Wait, what’s that you say? The sky is blue, not purple?

Well, if you are one in 12 men, or one in 200 women around the world that live with Color Vision Deficiency (CVD) or being color blind as it is commonly called, then you may see the sky as purple. The Job Accommodation Network states that, “A color vision deficiency occurs when cone cells of the retina, which provide daylight and color vision, are affected and there is difficulty distinguishing among colors. Typically this only involves certain hues, for example a red–green deficiency; total color blindness (achromatic vision) is rare.”

My friend and I are known to play a video game or two; but whenever we play FIFA or other team games, we need to use a color and white. This is due to the fact that my good friend cannot distinguish between certain colors like green and red, or blue and green. Most blue colors he says are purple to him, and some reds are also purple (like the old color wheel, blue and red make purple). So to him, the sky and the water are purple.

Does being color blind qualify as a disability? An individual with a disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.

There are certain protections available to someone who may have color blindness. Some jobs may require that an employee not be color blind due to safety reasons; but, as long as the employee can perform the essential functions of the job, they can request for reasonable accommodations. These accommodations may include Labels, Prescribed glasses for color discrimination, or Assistant to identify colors such as a volunteer or co-worker, as long as the accommodations prove to not be an undue hardship for the employer.

My friend is self educated in many of the areas in which telling the difference between colors are now automatic, like knowing that the top light at a traffic signal is Red. Although his current job does not require him to differentiate colors, he uses his strategies to do so. With self determination and supports from reasonable accommodations, others with disabilities may be successful as well.

For more information about Reasonable Job Accommodations, please contact NMPASI at 235-7273/4, or visit us online at www.nmpasi.org.

Greg Borja
NMPASI projects specialist

Contributing Author

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