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Wayfinding – should we consider colour blind users ?

Top image — left: standard UK road signs; right — signs adjusted to simulate what some colour blind users actually see using DaltonizeMe app.

In the UK 4% of the population are colour blind (approx 3 million people) or to be politically correct, suffer from colour vision deficiencies, CVD.  One in eight men are colourblind and one in two hundred women. Many people don’t even realise they are colour blind.  There are various forms of the condition ranging in severity with more than half of suffers being ‘blind’ to certain colours.

Significantly Apple have recently incorporated special colour filters to assist with a range of colour vision deficiencies in their IOS 10 software.

I have to admit this is something I had never given any thought to until I attended a seminar on colour last Friday.  Kathryn Albany-Ward from Colour Blind Awareness gave a compelling presentation on the subject which set me thinking…

Everyday things we take for granted can cause severe problems — for example using the internet and watching team sports.  One of the main areas Colour Blind Awareness is focusing on is for CVD to be recognised within education and for teachers to be equipped to help pupils accordingly (given the statistics in this day and age its hard to understand why this isn’t the case).

Significantly Apple have recently incorporated special colour filters to assist with a range of colour vision deficiencies in their IOS 10 software (access Colour Filters, via Accessibility in Settings).  I also learned that the 2010 Equality Act includes colour blindness as a form of disability so should nt this be incorporated into the general remit of working to the DDA when talking to clients about signage ?

Software and apps enable us to ‘see’ how schemes are viewed by those with CVD.  A quick assessment of our portfolio reveals for the most part our projects are infact colour blind friendly.  We work to general DDA guidelines as standard and ensure good contrast.  Where they are not it would only take a few simple tweaks to make them so.  Projects don’t need to be any less colourful, we just need to ensure the application of colour isn’t the only means of finding your way.

London Underground Alternative Map

Developed by 232 Studios, this free app presents alternative versions of Harry Beck’s colour coded tube map. It’s a brilliant example of where the needs of colour blind users have been accommodated to aid wayfinding.

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