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Discussion: ISOM 2017 a Bad Joke for the Colour Blind

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 7, 2017 5:50 AM # 
As a red green deficient orienteer, I was hoping the latest ISOM would offer a helping hand to pick out those pesky rough open clearings from the bush. Instead they're leaving us to hang with this enlightening “suggestion”:

Item 2.12.3: “When choosing colours for the ISOM [Colour vision impairment] was considered. The chosen set of colours is a compromise.”

Correct me if I’m wrong but the colours appear to be the same as they were before. What exactly’s been compromised?

2.12.4 Printing suggestions for the colour vision impaired
Structure can help in differentiating screens.
Use a rougher dot screen or a hatch pattern for the green screens (406, 408) to differentiate between greens and yellows.

No changes to the ISOM. Not even any serious guidelines on how to implement their “suggestion” even if you wanted to.

For me, there are two challenges with ISOM maps:
1. Identifying the edge between adjacent green and yellow
2. Discerning whether a feature is green or yellow

Mix and match symbols and situations all you want. If either of these two tasks are involved it’s going to be frustrating.

How then to solve these two distinct problems?

1. For us, colour is useless for communicating information. Instead rely on brightness and darkness. Add a thin white border between all green and yellow symbols. Easy to do with OCAD and “White for yellow”.

2. For this, the suggestion to use structure was good. Ideally we stay as minimal as possible. Say, a small dot structure well spaced out. Change the clearings NOT the green. The extra detail draws the eye. You want to run through fields, not thickets. Also, we’re already associate coloured dot screens with open areas.

As for what colours to make the dots, I’m obviously not the expert. In the example below I used white on Rough Open and 50% yellow on Open Field. Could be hideous but I wouldn’t know.

I look at this and I instantly see and understand everything. It's subtle but good for a 1:10 000 fantasy jpg at 300dpi. What about a real world example:

This is our most challenging local map colour wise. The snippet is 1:15000 300dpi export from OCAD. Normally a jpg image like this would be indiscernible for my eyes but the augmented symbols I can actually figure out. That’s despite the dots getting a bit washed out. I need to do some printing before I’m sure any of this is adequate.

Here’s an ISOM 2000 OCAD file with my changes you can apply to your own maps using “Load Colors and Symbols From…” It’s a rough hack, but gets you started…

Ideally, any alterations to the ISOM for colour deficient orienteers is as ubiquitous as possible. Am I offside with these changes? I imagine non-colour blind orienteers find the extra detail unnecessary at best. I’ve tried removing the dots and the outlines, I need both. I can’t trust my perception of colour without the dots and shapes just fade away without the outlines.

Now almost certainly there’s a better alternative then what I’ve got here. Even small tweaks of a few mm here and there can make a big difference.
It takes one look at any of my old WOC maps and I know the status quo is not good enough. While the IOF touts how inclusive the sport is, 5% of the world’s population can’t even read our maps properly. ISOM 2017 is an acknowledgement of the problem. Why can't we sit down and solve it.
Apr 7, 2017 6:24 AM # 
At first glance, sitting here looking at a screen, I don't think I would have any problem reading your versions nor have any confusion based on them. Have you tried using this at a local event? Just do it, see if anyone (who isn't color blind) even notices. You could even do some A/B testing...
Apr 7, 2017 6:27 AM # 
Such white outline should be use also for bare rock. It makes maps more legible for people with normal vision too. This is already quite well experimented, known to work in practice. I was a bit surprised this quite well known practice never made it to the ISOM if it isn't stated there.

back with with 0cad 8 I used to have separate white outline line symbol and then just select by symbol & fill tool.
Apr 7, 2017 6:42 AM # 
WOC long 2013

The clearing just before #18 is mapped like that. I believe these WOC map clearings were had edited one by one though, after knowing where the courses will go.

Anyway, if this has been good enough for WOC maps I'd say it is ok to try it out at local events too.
Apr 7, 2017 11:19 AM # 
Are the examples posted only viewable by colour blind people because I can't see them. All I get is a circle with a line through it.
Apr 7, 2017 12:21 PM # 
Don't know whether the MC has had someone who is colourblind themselves. Now it has - Adrian Upphill (Australia).
Apr 7, 2017 2:19 PM # 
Encouraging to see Jagge! I think I've run on maps where the shapes kind of popped out, maybe because of some kind of printing artificact... it was as though everything had white shadows, a sort of 3d effect.

As for the clearing by #18, I spotted the shape ok but it took a few more seconds of peering at the map before I knew it was the clearing. The dots take the guess work right out of the game.

Good to know there is some representation on the MC. It's incredibly frustrating preparing for a big race knowing that you could screw up due to factors beyond your control, get burned on little micro-route choices, dsq'd, etc... It'd be a real thrill to pick up a map knowing none of that mattered anymore.
Apr 7, 2017 3:37 PM # 
I like bigE's versions!
Apr 7, 2017 3:40 PM # 
What is the line width of the white line?
Apr 7, 2017 4:02 PM # 
It seems very sensible to make these adjustments for color blind people. I remember my horror at what my father had to do sometimes in order to figure out some rendering that he couldn't see. Perhaps there will be an ISOM 2018 to take care of all these missed (or side-stepped) things, or perhaps it's time for Community Specifications for Orienteering Maps, which IOF can get around to adopting once they're already popular and widely used.
Apr 7, 2017 5:03 PM # 
The line is effectively 0.075mm at 1:15000. The line symbol I'm using as a border is 0.15mm which is then half hidden by the green.

This discussion thread is closed.