Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rant: A Conveyor Belt Of No Respect

Ten million men and I share the same genetic abnormality yet it is a problem that few talk about, and even fewer do anything to help. It is an issue that gets no respect yet as it affects 7% of the male population it is something that needs to be brought forth, considered and addressed. Last night, this issue arose for me again when I dined at a new sushi joint.

What is my problem? I am color blind and more specifically, I possess a red-green color blindness. I can see colors, including red and green. However, I can't differentiate between as many shades of red and green as other people. An average person might be able to see ten different shades of red though I might only see five shades. I can determine the correct colors of traffic lights but matching the colors of my clothes is occasionally a challenge.

Color blindness is caused by the lack of certain pigments in nerve cells of the eyes, and red-green color blindness is the most common form. There is also a blue-yellow form though it is much less common. It is a condition mostly prevalent in men and only about 0.4% of women are color blind. Despite its prevalence in men, when is the last time you saw a business worrying about anyone being color blind?

Last night, I stopped at Enso Sushi, a new kaiten-zushi restaurant where sushi glides through the dining room on a conveyor belt. When a dish that appeals to you passes by, you take it off the belt. Each plate is color coded to a specific price so that when your meal is over, the server can easily determine your bill through counting the colored plates in front of you. You receive a color coded menu so you can determine the cost of each item. Most prices range from $2-$5 per plate, with a few specials above that cost.

My problem was that two of the colors looked essentially the same to me, and the difference in their price was about $2. If I just took a plate off the belt, I might have chosen a dish that costs $2 more than I thought it did because I got the color wrong. That could be a significant issue. With some time and effort in analyzing the menu, I was largely able to differentiate which dish cost which amount, but it was a bit of a hassle and should not have been necessary.

The restaurant had other identification options available beside using color coding. For example, they could have assigned each plate a certain letter or number and thus avoided causing any issue with the color blind. I think it is safe to assume that they never considered the issue of the color blind when choosing their color coded system.

I have encountered this issue before in other color coding situations, such as guide books and maps. For instance, I own a sustainable sushi guide that used a color coded system to indicate which seafood was a Good Choice and which was Avoid. The problem was that the colors used for those two designations looked basically the same to me. That was a significant problem and I am not alone in  my difficulties. There are ten million other color blind men.

Color coding may seem to make it easy for many people yet it also makes it much more difficult for others. Restaurants, writers, publishers, and businesses or all types should consider the fact that there is a significant amount of men who are color blind. We deserve respect too.


Anonymous said...

Though your point is completely valid, it is typically the way kaitensushi works in Japan, too.

Richard Auffrey said...

I have seen info though that there are Japanese kaiten sushi places that don't use color coding, using different patterns or different shaped plates.