Posts Tagged ‘color blindness’

Color Oracle Review + The Economist’s Red-Green Fixation

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Hisham Abboud over at the Curious Chap blog promo’d Color Oracle, the software that the talented Bernhard Jenny programmed (with my sometimes helpful nagging) for simulating color blindness.

No self-respecting programmer, UX practitioner, or web site designer should be without [Color Oracle]

Nice endorsement, thanks! Hisham uses an Apple iPhone website chart to emphasize his point: “My first brush with what one can do for color blind persons was a 2007 post by Greg Raiz. Greg described how Apple was using red and green circles (same shape) to illustrate which stores had iPhone availability, and how they later switched to using different shapes”:

redgreen

By using shape to reinforce (overload) the color difference, green and red can still be used to take advantage of those hue’s strong cultural significance (green = go, red = stop). The Economist, on the other hand, persists in NOT using shape to amplify the color differences in their charts and maps. Not only does this make it hard to read on my evening subway commute, they are completely illegible for color blind readers. The January 16th, 2010 edition has a particularly egregious example:

cfn742

Gene Therapy for Color Blindness (Cal Academy of Sciences)

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

[Editor's note: Color blindness affects a significant portion of the male population and impacts design decisions. Bernhard Jenny and I developed the Color Oracle software for Mac, Windows, and Linux to help designers muddle thru. Now gene therapy may offer a "cure" for the condition, as this video from the California Academy of Sciences explains. Thanks Tom!]

Republished from the Science in Action from the California Academy of Sciences.

Gene therapy has proven to cure color blindness in squirrel monkeys— can the same process work for humans?

We’ve been tracking a lot of vision stories lately… What have you found?

Continue reading text version at TG Daily . . .

Figure-Ground in an Age of Set Color Palettes

Friday, July 24th, 2009

cir904

[Editor's note: This map from the Economist suffers from stiff adherence to a limited color palette. Not only are red and green, the two primary colors used, hard to distinguish (1, 2, 3) for 8% of men (use Color Oracle to test), but it's just hard to focus on what the topic of the map is. Because of it's complexity (there are 3 different legends, with a total of 9 basic map classes), this map tips towards being a reference map rather than an explainer map (which usually just focuses on a max of 3 top-level classes). When I say "figure" here, I mean "what is the focus of the graphic". By "ground" I mean the background, supporting elements (5+ here) that help locate and provide context for the figure.

The graphic treatments on the green-tinted land, blue-tinted water, Arctic circle, solid country lines in brown, dashed province lines in brown, and a white water vignette compete directly with the figure instead of supporting it. While this basic color palette works for simple locators, an explainer graphic like this suffers from strict adherence.

A possible redesign might include using white water fill instead of blue (and thus avoid the water vignette, necessitated by the small 7% difference in HSV value  between the green and blue right next to each other), a creme-beige instead of green for the land, grey lines for the country and provinces, and different hues entirely for the Inuit and Sami areas but that share the same saturation and value (one is dull now, the other bright). The dots and dashes that distinguish the ice extents  is done well, but the lines should offset from each other in the Greenland Sea.

The key objective: if it's important enough to put on the map and feature in the figure (to include it in the legend), make it clearly legible.]

Republished from the Economist.
Jul 16th 2009 | NUUK, GREENLAND

The rights of Arctic peoples: Not a barren country
More political powers for the indigenous people of the Arctic could soon be matched by more economic clout

THE crowds in Nuuk, Greenland’s pretty coastal capital, marked the devolution of more powers from Denmark, on midsummer’s day, with cheers, processions and flags. The town thronged with men in white anoraks and women in kalaallisuut, an outfit of sealskin boots and trousers set off with a beaded top. Even a dusting of summer snow failed to chill the mood.

The newly elected prime minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, who represents an Inuit-dominated party, promised that his country would act as an “equal partner” with Denmark, the old colonial power. The Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, responded with a pledge that Greenland could claim full independence whenever it chooses. A more cordial separation is hard to imagine.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

iPhone app: Subway Suffle for Color Blind (Kelso)

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Kudos to the developer of Subway Suffle, my new favorite iPhone game, for including a “Better for color blind” mode in their game! This mode shifts the greens to a darker value making them easier to distinguish from the brighter red (see my blog post on this topic). Simple and elegant application preference solution that makes both audiences happy. Thanks Frank and Kristin!

Screenshots of game play below (normal vision mode):

Go to the iTunes store to buy or demo . . .

Disappearing Birds (Wash Post)

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

[Editor's note: "Habitat loss has sent many bird species into decline across the United States." This chart  shows the percent change in bird population since 1968, by habitat. I like three things about this chart: (1) it uses direct labeling on the green and red lines thus making it easy to understand for all and allowing color blind viewers access to the encoded information (see post) and (2) the chart segments out important thematic subtrends in the dataset. Also (3) I worked on a bird migration supplement (wall) map for National Geographic in 2004 and Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some of the coolest time-based mapping techniques around. See original artwork from the North America side of the supplement now thru May at NG Explorers Hall in DC.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Graphic by Patterson Clark.  March 20, 2009.
SOURCE: www.stateofthebirds.org.

Related story by Juliet Eilperin.

Major Decline Found In Some Bird Groups
But Conservation Has Helped Others

Several major bird populations have plummeted over the past four decades across the United States as development transformed the nation’s landscape, according to a comprehensive survey released yesterday by the Interior Department and outside experts, but conservation efforts have staved off potential extinctions of others.

“The State of the Birds” report, a broad analysis of data compiled from scientific and citizen surveys over 40 years, shows that some species have made significant gains even as others have suffered. Hunted waterfowl and iconic species such as the bald eagle have expanded in number, the report said, while populations of birds along the nation’s coasts and in its arid areas and grasslands have declined sharply.

From the report: “Reveals troubling declines of bird populations during the past 40 years—a warning signal of the failing health of our ecosystems. At the same time, we see heartening evidence that strategic land management and conservation action can reverse declines of birds. This report calls attention to the collective efforts needed to protect nature’s resources for the benefit of people and wildlife.”

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Red-Green Color Vision Impairment

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

the economist logoAn article I was reading in this week’s Economist magazine reminded me of Color Oracle, the software Bernhard Jenny (Swiss Institute of Cartography, ETH Zurich) developed to silence my continual prodding after listening to Cynthia Brewer talk about color blindness (color vision impairment) at a NACIS conference in 2000 (?!). It struck me there should be a tool that actually allowed the designer to see what their design looked like to someone with this impairment and not just try to make something work using limited “blessed” color combinations. An earlier effort produced Sim Daltonism, a Mac only tool that does a similar job as Color Oracle.

Color Oracle takes the guesswork out of designing for color blindness by showing you in real time what people with common color vision impairments will see. Color Oracle applies a full screen color filter to art you are designing – independently of the software that you are using. Eight percent of all males are affected by color vision impairment and it’s good to make sure that your graphical work is readable by the widest possible audience. This software is free and works on Mac, Windows, and even Linux. Get it here.

Back to the Economist graphic on real prefectural spending per person in Japan This graphic uses a divergent color scheme that is convenient for most readers, but hard to read for others. The strong hue contrast between the red and green segments of the legend’s color ramp becomes hard to distinguish for people with color vision impairment (see 2nd image past the jump for simulated view using Color Oracle).

economist japan graphic normal

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