Dr. Ray L. Winstead
Professor of Biology (retired), Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Nintendo DS Battery Indicator Light Solution
for Color Blind (Color Deficient) Users
(Solution Also Works for DS Lite)
  (This article may also be viewed in the Serbo-Croatian language as translated by Jovana Milutinovich.)

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.


        My two sons are color blind (technically color deficient) and cannot distinguish the difference between the green and red battery indicator light on the Nintendo DS.  The solution for both the original DS and DS Lite is to tape a vinyl Red Dot on top of the battery indicator light.  (The battery indicator light is just to the right of the orange charging light.)  When the battery indicator light is green, indicating a charged battery, the light does not show up at all through the red vinyl.  When the battery indicator light turns to red, indicating the battery needs to be charged, the red light shows up brightly through the red vinyl and is easily seen.  The vinyl Red Dot functions as a light filter. My sons can now easily tell when the red indicator light comes on and know that they need to recharge the battery.  For the original DS I made the Red Dot by simply using a paper punch to punch out a dot from a piece of red vinyl.  For the DS Lite cut the Red Dot in half and tape the half-dot over the battery indicator light with the cut side toward the charging light (see the photo below of the DS Lite).
          Finding both the right color and thickness of vinyl that would work well was a project of trial and error.  Finally I found some small four-inch-square vinyl flags (used to mark outdoor plots and transects) that had the right color and thickness for the desired effect.  (If the vinyl is too thin, then both color lights shine through.) Finding a paper hole punch that would give a clean cut through the vinyl was also an initial problem to overcome.  I finally found one in a craft store that cut cleanly and also provided a dot that was slightly smaller than the standard size.  The smaller size works well on the original DS.  The lights on the DS Lite are slightly taller, and a standard hole punch is better to get a Red Dot with an increased diameter.  Cut this standard sized Red Dot in half, and tape it over the battery indicator light of the DS Lite with the cut side toward the charging light (see the photo below of the DS Lite)
          After first experimenting with rubber cement under and around the edges of the Red Dot, I found this worked OK for a while, however the dot would eventually rub off.  My original intent was to find a way to easily remove the dot with no mark at all left on the DS.  The rubber cement did, in fact, leave no mark, however it would just not stay on well enough with normal use.  I finally just taped the Red Dot on using heavy transparent tape, and this has worked well.  I have not tried to remove the tape, since it is more important to know whether or not the light is green or red at this point, rather than knowing if the tape may leave a residue or not if removed.  Although that was one of the original objectives, that secondary objective was abandoned in favor of the primary objective being met for the long term.  The small piece of tape I used was the good, thick, transparent Scotch 375 tape, but any transparent tape should work fine.  (The tape must be thin enough for the DS Lite to close.)
           I encourage you to try this out for yourself.
Please let me know that you have been successful in using the Red Dot technique to solve the problem of color blind (color deficient) users not being able to detect the difference between the green and red battery indicator light on the Nintendo DS or DS Lite.  Please send me an email message at rw@raywinstead.com.  Thanks.  
          Finding the vinyl with the right color and thickness was the biggest problem to overcome.  If you are not successful in finding the right vinyl with the desired effect, THEN SEND ME A SELF-ADDRESSED, STAMPED ENVELOPE AND I WILL SEND YOU THREE RED DOTS.  HOWEVER, BEFORE YOU SEND YOUR ENVELOPE, BE SURE TO EMAIL ME AT rw@raywinstead.com TO INSURE THAT I STILL HAVE SOME RED DOTS TO RESERVE FOR YOU.  I'll also give you my home mailing address in my reply.  What you would be receiving from me would be three red vinyl dots (but use only one at a time), and I hope this is helpful.  Then all you will need to supply yourself is some transparent tape.
          This same Red Dot also works well with the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP, however the light intensity is a little different on these. The red light still shines brightly through the red vinyl and is easily seen, while the green light is either absent or just barely seen (perhaps just a little bit more than on the DS, where no green light comes through the red vinyl).



Click image to enlarge.

January 15, 2005 by Ray L. Winstead. All rights reserved.
This web page was first available January 15, 2005 (updated for DS Lite January 27, 2007).

!!!!!!!!  If you are color deficient, also check out "Visolve" ( http://www.ryobi-sol.co.jp/visolve/en/ ), the free software that transforms colors of the computer display into the discriminable colors for various people including people with color vision deficiency, commonly called color blindness.  In addition to distinguishing colors and finding a specific color, it aims to help people with color blindness to guess a normal color, and to feel the color gradations in natural scenery etc. by their visual information.  (9-19-2010)

Comments from other websites and webmasters
(Unfortunately, a website or link listed below may no longer exist.  Click on the square at the very bottom of the page and go to "Referrer Tracker 2" to verify that they once linked to this site.)

"Same solution could also be used for other red/green indicator lights - check this one out!"
          Colors for the Color Blind   http://toledo-bend.com/colorblind/links.html
"That's a really great idea and I have mentioned it on my web site!" listed as a news item and "really caught our attention." 
          Bunch of DS   http://www.bunchofds.com/news/viewnews.cgi?id=EEpyFFAlyuUtyfDGOF
"Color-blind Rejoice,"  "Find out the solution here!"
          Duelscreen   http://www.duelscreen.com/article/88.html 
"ingenieuze uitvinding" Dutch for "ingenious invention" Used a catchy, imaginary short story to stimulate interest.  Go to http://world.altavista.com/ to translate the page from Dutch into your language.
          Only-DS   http://www.only-ds.nl/v3/index_v3.php?subaction=showfull&id=1106943903&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&
This article offers an easy to implement solution to help color deficient users . . .  ." 
 Society for Technical Communication  http://www.stcsig.org/usability/topics/colorblind.html

"A simple yet effective solution for color blind users of the Nintendo DS"
 Nintendo DS News on ds-gamer.com  http://www.ds-gamer.com/nintendo-ds-news/nintendo-ds-battery-indicator-for-the-color-blind

"Best DS Invention Ever!"  "innovative solution which solves the problem"   "simple, yet brilliant fix"
 DS Mania


Other Comments (via email)
Thank you so much.  These worked perfectly . . .   You have definitely made our gaming life a lot easier.
Hello. I am a color-blinded 16 year old who has once had the problem with the nintendo ds's battery charge indicator light, but now I do not. This email is not for questions, but rather a note of my sincerest gratitude for your clever idea. Thank you. Thank you for not only creating this, but also for sharing it so others, like me, can benefit from it as well. I really mean it. I can't explain how relieved I am not to worry about or have to ask my brother if the light of my ds is red yet.  This simple yet effective idea has made this one high-schooler's day. Thanks.
I can not express to you the feeling of graditute I feel after trying out your idea for the Nintendo DS. I am 17 year old I have a color defeciency in my eyes. I was never able to tell when my DS was on low battery, forcing me to keep it plugged into the wall at all times out of constant fear of it turning off unexpectedly during my gameplay. After stumbling across your website and reading about how you were able to find a solution to this problem my prayers seemed to have been answered. No longer do I have to keep my gaming device plugged into the wall or have to worry that my game would turn off in the middle of a level that I worked so hard to get on just to be heart broken when it turned off. It was so easy to follow the steps on how to do it and I feel alot more comfortable bringing it over to my friends house or just outside the houes without worrying when it will turn off. I can now play my Mario Kart Game DS outside my house without the plug against my friends using the Wi-Fi feature without having to be worried that it will turn off in the middle of a race and ruining the game for everyone else. As you can you have made me so happy. I seriously can not thank you enought for everything you have done. I am forever in you debt. This not only proves there is a hope out there for kids who are "color blind"  but there is hope for humanity as a whole because there are people who care enough to help the little people with the little problems. You truely are an American Hero in my eyes.


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Dr. Ray L. Winstead
Direct e-mail Link:rw@raywinstead.com


Key words: Nintendo DS, Nintendo, DS, NintendoDS, DS Lite, color blind, color blindness, colorblind, color-blind, color deficiency, color deficient, red, green, battery light, battery light indicator, battery indicator light, battery indicator, battery, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, GameBoy, Red Dot, Red Dots, Winstead

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