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Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with


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Deficiencies: A Re-Colouring Algorithm for...

Article in Cartographic Journal The November 2012


DOI: 10.1179/1743277412Y.0000000030

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The Cartographic Journal Vol. 49 No. 4 pp. 302311 Cognition, Behaviour, Representation - Special Issue November 2012
# The British Cartographic Society 2012

REFEREED PAPER

Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with Acquired and


Inherited Colour Vision Deficiencies: A Re-Colouring
Algorithm for Maps
Gretchen Maria Culp
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Geography, CUNY, New York, USA
Email: GMCulp@gmail.com

Approximately 8% of the male population suffers from an inherited form of colour vision deficiency (CVD). Age,
diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma result in eye defects including an acquired form of CVD.
Inherited CVD is marked by a difficulty in discerning red from green, while acquired CVD is marked by a difficulty in
discerning blue from green. A recent review of the cartographic literature revealed a deficit in studies on accessible maps
for readers with the acquired form of CVD. In addition, research on accessible maps for readers with the inherited form of
CVD was restricted to the design or pre-publication stage. An approach is needed to render maps already in circulation
accessible to an audience with CVD. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to provide the reader with some
background on acquired and inherited CVD; second, to introduce a potential approach to improve the accessibility of maps
post-publication. Image re-colouring is a method of altering an images colour composition in such a way as to make it
accessible to a colour vision deficient audience. An innovative algorithm is presented that produces a re-coloured map that
can be perceived by both red-green (inherited) and blue-green (acquired) deficiencies. Although the algorithm has yet to
be tested on human subjects, it performed well on an edge detection analysis.

Keywords: inherited and acquired colour vision deficiencies, image re-colouring, map

INTRODUCTION million of these cases are among persons aged 60 years or


older (CDC, 2008). Worldwide, the incidence of diabetes is
Arthur H. Robinson (1978, p. 6) wrote that the eye-brain
predicted to more than double from 171 million in 2010 to
mechanism is constantly processing whatever appears on
366 million in 2030 (WHO, 2012a).
the retina What makes visual sense to our brains is not
necessarily what makes geographical sense. It is up to the
cartographer to try to bring the two together. But what if a
map does not make visual sense? How, then, could said map COLOUR VISION DEFICIENCIES
ever expect to make geographic sense? Age, diabetes, macular
degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma result in defects of the The term colour blind is often misused. To be truly colour
eye, in particular, colour vision deficiency (Verriest, 1964; blind is to be unable to distinguish any colour whatsoever.
Bresnick et al., 1985; Chioran et al., 1985; Roy et al., 1986; The world would appear black, white and grey. This
Rockett et al., 1987; Krastel and Moreland, 1991; Hardy condition, known as monochromatism or achromatism, is
et al., 1992; Pacheco-Cutillas et al., 1999). A study on extremely rare and is the result of the loss of two classes
Korean website usability for disabled users found that low of photopigments. Frequently, the term colour blind is
vision and senior citizen participants frequently made errors mistakenly used to describe someone with incomplete or
based on lack of colour recognition (Choi et al., 2008). deficient colour vision. Colour vision deficiency (CVD) is a
In 2010, of the 308.7 million people in the USA, 13% reduced form of normal vision or trichromatism. Normal
(40.3 million) were elderly (US Census Bureau, 2012). The trichromats possess three classes of cones: long wave (L)
World Health Organization predicts that from 2000 to 2050, absorb light in the red part of the spectrum, medium wave
the proportion of the worlds population over 60 years of age (M) absorb light in the green part of the spectrum and short
will double from around 11% to 22%, increasing from 605 wave (S) absorb light in the blue part of the spectrum
million to two billion (WHO, 2012b). Approximately 7.8% (Figure 1a). Dichromats have just two functioning classes
(23.6 million) of the US population have diabetes, and 12.2 of cones and confuse colours that differ only by the missing

DOI: 10.1179/1743277412Y.0000000030
Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with Colour Vision Deficiencies 303

Figure 1. A map with a spectral scheme as perceived by (a) normal, (b) deutanopic, (c) protanopic and (d) tritanopic observers. Dichromatic
vision was simulated using Vienot and Brettels (2001) colour appearance algorithm

cone class. Dichromats are classified as either protanopes, referred to as blue-yellow blindness as yellow and bluish
deutanopes or tritanopes. violet shades appear desaturated. Tritanopes perceive the
Anomalous trichomats have two functioning classes world using the red/cyan chromatic channel and the
of cones as well as partial use of the third cone class. achromatic channel (Figure 2c).
Anomalous trichomats colour perception can range from Colour vision deficiency can be inherited through a sex-
near normal to near dichromatic and are classified as either linked recessive gene carried on the X chromosome or
protanomalous, deuteranomalous or tritanomalous. acquired due to ocular damage associated with age, diabetes
Deutan defects or green blindness occur when the M and ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma, macular degen-
cone class malfunctions (Figure 1b). Protan defects or red eration and cataracts. Most observers with inherited colour
blindness occur when the L cone class malfunctions vision loss display a reduced ability in varying degrees to
(Figure 1c). Protan and deutan observers confuse red with discriminate between reds and greens, most often in the form
green and are thus categorized as having a red-green of deuteranomaly. The most predominant form of acquired
deficiency. Bluish green and magenta shades appear desatu- colour vision deficiency is blue-green confusion. See Table 1
rated. Protanopes and deutanopes perceive the world using for a comparison of inherited and acquired colour vision
the yellow/blue chromatic channel and the achromatic deficiencies.
channel (Figure 2b). While both have the same gamut, a
protanopes perception of reddish shades is darker and less
saturated than that of a deutanope.
THE ROLE OF COLOUR IN THE VISUALISATION OF
Tritan type defects or blue blindness occur when the S
INFORMATION
cone class malfunctions (Figure 1d). Tritan observers con-
fuse blue with green and are thus categorized as having The application of colour to visual displays of information is
a blue-green deficiency. Tritan type CVD is sometimes a contentious topic. In the introduction of Interaction of
304 The Cartographic Journal

unintended meanings for the subject being mapped.


American engineer Willard Brinton (1939, p. 14), an
innovator in the field of information graphics, felt, however,
that the question is not Can one afford to use color? but
Can one afford to omit color?. British mathematician
Oliver Byrnes (1847) use of primary colours to symbolize
points, lines and angles in his The Elements of Euclid was a
revolutionary and successful method of information visua-
lisation. Geometry students were able to grasp concepts
more rapidly with Byrnes vibrant diagrams than with
traditional black and white figures. Byrne (1847, p. xiii)
does advise that care must be taken to show that color has
nothing to do with the lines, angles, or magnitudes, except
merely to name them.

RELATED CARTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

Several studies have addressed the production accommodat-


ing maps through thoughtful design and colour selection.
Jenny and Kelsos (2007a, b) Color Oracle simulates the
deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia forms of dichro-
macy. ColorBrewer is a web-based application for selecting
colour schemes for thematic maps. This tool was developed to
assist novice map designers select, evaluate and implement
effective colour schemes. A set of usability icons located in the
lower right corner indicates likely legibility of the scheme by
readers with red/green colour vision deficiency (Brewer,
2003; Gardner, 2005). A palettes colour blind friendly
Figure 2. Gamuts of the (a) normal trichromat, (b) red-green status was determined by utilizing both theoretical under-
dichromat and (c) blue-green dichromat standing of colour vision deficiencies throughout colour space
(Olson and Brewer, 1997) and an evaluation of the schemes
Color (2006, p. 1), the German-born artist and colour
by individuals with red/green colour vision deficiency.
theorist Josef Albers wrote In order to use color effectively
Neither ColorBrewer nor Color Oracle are software specific,
it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually.
and thus they can be utilized in tandem with a variety of
Famed French cartographer Jacques Bertin warned against
desktop mapping applications. Jefferson and Harvey (2007)
the false aestheticism sought in color (1981, p. 147). He classify techniques and tools that assist in the design of
felt that color is not indispensable as differences in texture materials accessible to CVD observers as pre-publication
or pattern can effectively represent a component (Bertin, methods.
2011, p. 90). As an aside, a monochromatic map appears
the same to a user with CVD as it does to one with normal
colour vision. American critical cartographer Denis Wood
RELATED IMAGE RE-COLOURING RESEARCH
(1992) finds fault with self-evident colour assignment such
as depicting water using shades of blue. Wood notes that Image re-colouring is a method of altering an images colour
water is not truly blue and has historically been symbolized composition in such a way as to make it accessible to a colour
in red, black, white, brown, pink and green. American vision impaired audience. Individuals with a colour vision
cartographer Cynthia Brewer (2005) advises map makers to deficiency have a reduced colour gamut. The objective of
take care with literal uses of colour by avoiding superficial re-colouring is to preserve an abundance of visual infor-
and exaggerated emphasis on colour associations. She mation within the constraints of this limited colour range.
suggests using a purposely abstract set of easily distin- Developed by researchers in the field of computer science,
guished hues, particularly where certain colours may have these algorithms are typically used to process images ranging

Table 1. Factoring distinguishing congenital from acquired colour deficiencies. Adapted from King-Smith (1991)

Diagnostic Acquired Congenital (inherited)

Common deficiency type Blue-yellow Red-green


Eyes affected Unilateral (one eye) Bilateral (both eyes)
Onset Occurs after birth Present at birth
Type and severity of deficiency Fluctuates Stable throughout life
Gender Equal incidence in males and females Higher incidence in males
Cause Abnormalities anywhere along the visual pathway (from retina to brain) Alteration or loss of cone types
Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with Colour Vision Deficiencies 305

from photographs and works of art to computer graphics and Images re-coloured for red-green dichromacy will have blue
even video. Image re-colouring occurs post-publication. added to green pixels and blue subtracted from all other
Surprisingly, the application of re-colouring algorithms to pixels. Images re-coloured for blue-green dichromacy will
maps is absent from the cartographic literature. Twenty-four have red added to blue pixels and red subtracted from all
re-colouring algorithms are broken down into four cate- other pixels. Wakita and Shimamuras (2005) SmartColor
gories (colour contrast enhancing; gamut re-mapping; uses simulated annealing to re-colour images according to
daltonisation; and conversion to greyscale) and briefly the users specifications while maintaining contrast.
described below. Algorithms in the first three categories A second means of re-colouring an image involves re-
produce separate images for red-green and blue-green plotting the image within the dichromats colour subspace or
deficiencies. Algorithms in the fourth category produce a gamut. The re-coloured images appear similar to both the
single image. dichromat that the image was re-coloured for and individuals
The most popular re-colouring method works by chan- with normal vision. A drawback to this approach is that the
ging the colours of the original image such that viewers with colour re-mapping may vary based on the original images
colour vision deficiencies perceive colour contrast in portions colour composition. Rasche et al.s (2005a) algorithm uses
of images where they originally were indistinguishable. A multi-dimensional scaling to collapse the images three-
drawback to this approach is that the colour remapping may dimensional gamut into a dichromats two-dimensional
vary based on the original images colour composition. Some gamut. Ma et al.s (2009) algorithm uses self-organizing
algorithms were designed for anomalous trichromats where mapping to build a two-dimensional gamut of colours present
colour vision deficiency is mild. These algorithms are in the original image and then maps these colours to the
ineffective for dichromats where the degree of colour vision corresponding position on the dichromats two-dimensional
deficiency is severe. Yang et al.s (2004) digital item gamut. Machado and Oliveiras (2010) algorithm projects the
adaptation algorithm compensates confusing colours accord- original colours onto a plane aligned with the direction that
ing to the severity of colour vision deficiency defined by maximizes contrast loss and then rotates the plane to align with
the user. Oka et al.s (2009) colour compensation the colour coordinates of the dichromat gamut. Kuhn et al.s
method intensifies either the L or M cone axis. Ichikawa (2008a) algorithm enhances image contrast through mass
et al.s. (2003) algorithm works by enhancing lightness and spring optimisation, allowing users to select a number of
colour difference. Chao et al.s (2008) algorithm uses quantized colours and opt for an exaggerated colour contrast
Riemann geometry to create isometries between normal setting for re-colouring non-natural images such as scientific
and colour vision deficient colour spaces that preserve colour and information visualisations.
differences. A third technique is daltonisation in which the error (the
Other algorithms are intended for red/green colour difference between the normal and dichromat perception of a
deficient observers and lack a method for blue/green colour colour) is adjusted and added back to the original colour.
deficiency. Michelsons (2008) colour contraster algorithm This process is named after John Dalton, a dichromatic
intensifies pixel hue by making red pixels redder and green chemist who was the first to research colour vision
pixels greener as well as altering the pixels blue component deficiencies. By altering only the colours that are confusing
by increasing it for greens and decreasing it for reds. to dichromats, daltonisation algorithms preserve colours that
Michelson and Yuns (2008) colour corrector algorithm are discernible. Dougherty and Wades (2002) Vischeck and
shifts a pixels luminosity and chromatic channels based on Fidaner and Ozguvens (2005) algorithm use daltonisation
its redness or greenness. Iaccarino et al.s (2006) colour to re-colour images for observers with red-green type
blind filter service determines the proportion of red and deficiencies. Anagnostopoulos et al.s (2007) intelligent
green pixels in the original image and alters pixel hue, daltonisation method begins with an initial modification of
saturation and lightness based on this proportion. Jefferson the error followed by subsequent scaled modifications until
and Harveys (2007) algorithm transfers chromatic infor- the image is distinguishable to dichromats.
mation of the defective cone across the two functioning A fourth re-colouring approach is the conversion to
cones. For protanopes, variation is transferred to M and S greyscale. Some loss of visual information is unavoidable
cones, while for deutanopes, information is transferred to L during the greyscale conversion process due to the loss of
and S cones. Nakauchi and Onouchis (2008) algorithm colour dimensions. Individuals with CVD experience a similar
evaluates and modifies confusing colour clusters. Troiano phenomenon in that they may be unable to distinguish
et al.s (2008) algorithm selects a set of key colours from an distinct colours. Mapping to luminance is the most common
image, and uses Euclidean distance between each pair in the greyscale conversion approach; however, significant image
set to create a set of CVD accessible colours which is then detail is lost. More sophisticated conversion algorithms
interpolated across the remaining colours in the image. enhance contrast by setting the perceived grey difference
There are also algorithms that can generate separate proportional to the perceived hue difference between colour
images for red-green and blue-green CVD. Huang et al.s pairs. Gooch et al.s (2005) Color2Gray algorithm works by
(2008) algorithm works by extracting a set of representative converting the colour image to a perceptually uniform colour
colours from an image and re-mapping them in such a way as space and then calculating luminance and chrominance
to maintain contrast between each pair of these representa- differences among neighbouring pixels. These variations as
tive colours. Bao et al.s (2008) improved adaptive mapping well as user-defined controls are incorporated into an
algorithm uses the images colour distribution and the type optimisation problem that determines the greyscale setting.
of colour vision deficiency to map colours to areas of the Rasche et al.s (2005b) method uses a system of constraints
colour plane that are better perceived by CVD observers. to maintain luminous consistency and preserve contrast
306 The Cartographic Journal

Figure 3. The map from Figure 1 re-coloured by the OrangeGreyAzure algorithm as perceived by (a) normal, (b) deutanopic, (c) protano-
pic and (d) tritanopic observers. Dichromatic vision was simulated using Vienot and Brettels (2001) colour appearance algorithm

resulting in an image where perceived grey differences are and blue-green deficient observers (Figure 3). The algo-
proportional to perceived colour differences between any pair rithm works by re-plotting the image within a gamut that is
of colours in the original image. Two other algorithms perceptible to protanopes, deutanopes and tritanopes. This
produce greyscale images with global consistency (pixels of gamut was constructed by combining the region of the red-
the same colour in the original image are assigned the same green deficient gamut that is perceptible to blue-green
grey value in the re-coloured image) while retaining the deficient observers (blue region) and the region of the
original images grey values. Grundland and Dodgsons blue-green deficient gamut that is perceptible to red-green
(2007) Decolorize algorithm assigns grey values by sampling deficient observers (red region). Protanopes perceive reds
colour differences by Gaussian pairing and analysing these (hue: 0u) as desaturated and blues (hue: 240u) as saturated.
differences by predominant component analysis. Kuhn et al.s Conversely, tritanopes perceive blues (hue: 240u) as
(2008b) algorithm uses a mass-spring system to perform a desaturated and reds (hue: 0u) as saturated. This disparity
constrained optimisation on the luminance values of a set of in saturation was addressed by rotating the red and blue
quantized colours obtained from the original image to regions until a more uniform saturation was achieved. The
produce a set of grey values that are then interpolated across resulting reddish-orange (hue: 20u), azure blue (hue: 210u)
all pixels. and monochromatic gamut is shown in Figure 4. Reddish
and bluish colours are plotted in their respective regions of
the gamut. Greenish colours are converted to greyscale
through desaturation. Because the algorithm works on a
THE ORANGEGREYAZURE RE-COLOURING
pixelwise basis, colour re-assignment is universal (pixels of
ALGORITHM
the same colour are always assigned the same new colour).
The re-colouring methodology described here produces a The algorithm was developed in C#.NET and is executed
single colour image that is accessible to red-green deficient through a stand-alone application.
Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with Colour Vision Deficiencies 307

8  
  > 0
< Crg 0
, if Crg w0 ;
0
r Crg ~  
>
: 0, if C 0 0 :
rg
8    
  > < Abs Crg 0
, if Crg 0
0 ;
0
g Crg ~  
>
: 0, 0
if Crg w0 :

8  
  > 0
< Cyb , if Cyb0
w0 ;
0
y Cyb ~  
>
: 0, if C 0 0 :
yb
8    
  >< Abs Cyb 0
, if Cyb 0
0 ;
0
b Cyb ~  
>
: 0, 0
if Cyb w0 :

The colour attribute variables determine to what hue the


pixel will be re-coloured. Redder and yellower pixels are re-
coloured in reddish-orange, while bluer and greener pixels
are re-coloured in azure blue.
 0
20 , if rb or ywg or gy ;
huer,y,g,b ~
2100 , if bwr or bwg or gb :

The saturation of the new colour is also determined by the


Figure 4. The reddish-orange, azure blue and monochromatic
gamut used by the proposed re-colouring algorithm colour attribute variables. The higher the greenness
variable, the more desaturated the colour.

satr,y,g,b ~
The following is an explanation of how the algorithm 8
works. First, the RGB (R, G, B) channels of the pixel from >
> rz0:25|y , if r0 and y0;
>
>
the original map image are obtained. The RGB channels are >
>
>maxf0:25|y {g ,0g,
>
<
if y0 and g0;
then converted to both CIE 1976 (L*, a*, b*) and oRGB
(L9, Cyb , Crg ) opponent colour spaces. Opponent spaces r{0:25|b , if rw0 and bw0 and rb;
>
>
are colour models based on perception experiments using >
>
>
> b{0:25|r , if rw0 and bw0 and bwr;
an achromatic channel of black-white and primary colours >
>
:
channels of yellow/blue and either Herring opponent type maxfb{0:75|g ,0g, if b0 and g0:
red/green or a true opponent type magenta/green or red/
cyan. The true opponent space CIE1976 presents a problem
The oRGB chromaticity channels of the new colour are
because rather than measuring red-green, it measures
determined by multiplying the saturation by the appro-
reddish-magenta/cyannish-green. Bratkova et al. (2009)
priate gamut hues oRGB chromaticity channels. The
introduced an innovative new Herring opponent colour
oRGB chromaticity channels (Cyb , Crg ) for the reddish-
space known as the oRGB model. The oRGB models two
chromatic channels are Cyb (which is positive for yellow orange and azure blue hues in our gamut are (0.43, 0.77)
and negative for blue) and Crg (which is positive for red and (20.84, 20.23), respectively.
and negative for green) and range in [21, 1]. oRGB uses a (
sat|0:43, if hue~200 ;
nonlinear analogue of luminance referred to as luma, which 0
new Cyb hue,sat~
the authors believe to be more perceptually uniform. The sat|{0:84, if hue~2100 :
resulting re-coloured images, however, appeared darker (
than the originals. Therefore, this algorithm uses the CIE 0
sat|0:77, if hue~200 ;
new Crg hue,sat~
1976 luminance channel (L*), instead. The colour attributes sat|{0:23, if hue~2100 :
redness (r), yellowness (y), greenness (g) and blueness (b)
are calculated based on the oRGB chromatic channels The following steps are necessary to retain the luminance of
where redness is the positive value of the Crg channel, the original image. Using the original luminance channel
greenness is the negative value of the Crg , yellowness is the and the new chromaticity channels, pixel colour space is
positive value of the Cyb channel and blueness is the then converted from oRGB to CIE 1976 in order to obtain
negative value of the Cyb . Redness and greenness are the intermediate luminance channel. The original and
mutually exclusive as are yellowness and blueness. intermediate CIE 1976 luminance channels are then used
308 The Cartographic Journal

253, 181, 148


212, 212, 212
127, 127, 127
141, 198, 251
to scale the original oRGB luminance channel. Using the

51, 134, 211


resulting scaled luminance channel and the new chroma-

212, 69, 3
(R, G, B)
ticity channels, pixel colour space is then converted from

RGB
oRGB to RGB.
Colour modifications, particularly ones carried out in
colour spaces other than RGB, can result in colours located

0.46, 20.53, 20.15


0.82, 20.57, 10.16
outside the RGB gamut. There are several approaches to

0.35, 0.45, 0.86


0.83, 0.22, 0.42
remap a colour back into the gamut. The method used here

(L9, Cyb , Crg )


was simple linear scaling as recommended by Bratkova et al.

0.83, 0, 0
0.5, 0, 0
(2009).

oRGB
A map palette that would confuse both red-green and

Final
blue-green dichromats was produced using methodology
developed by Olson and Brewer (1997). The red/dark

70.17, 22.84, 242.89


green and gold/bright green colour pairs are confusing to

57.01, 0.67, 246.51


76.24, 26.76, 32.75
the red-green deficient observer. The blue/dark green and

45, 49.57, 55.52


turquoise/bright green colour pairs are confusing to the
blue-green deficient observer. Refer to Table 2 for colour

(L*, a*, b*)

62.09, 0, 0,
CIE 1976

37.4, 0, 0
values from the maps used in this publication.
Figure 5 shows results produced by the proposed
algorithm. Dichromatic vision was simulated using
Vienot and Brettels (2001) colour appearance algorithm.

252, 168, 129


150, 150, 150

100, 177, 249


The original map was designed so that no neighbouring

58, 141, 218


polygons have the same colour. Each polygon contains a

194, 65, 6

88, 88, 88
(R, G, B)
single dot. The first column shows the original map as

RGB
perceived by normal, deutanopic and tritanopic observers.
The second column presents colour edge maps of the
corresponding images from the first column. Dark areas

0.67, 20.57, 20.16


0.49, 20.53, 20.15
on the edge maps indicate perceptible differences in

0.76, 0.22, 0.42


colour. The edge maps were generated using methodol-

0.3, 0.45, 0.86


(L9, Cyb , Crg )
Intermediate

ogy proposed by Kim et al. (2011) where the colour

0.59, 0, 0
0.35, 0, 0
difference metric CIEDE2000 (DE00) was used to sim-
oRGB

ulate human vision perception. The edge map for the


original map as perceived by a normal observer shows an
outline around each point indicating that surrounding
258.01, 255.99
241.49, 220.68
polygons are distinguishable from one another. The edge 234.77, 272.07
CIE 1976 (L*, a*, b*)

286.18, 83.18

maps for the original map as viewed by deutanopic and


80.11, 67.22
5.73, 84.54

tritanopic observers, however, show outlines containing


multiple points indicating areas where polygons are
indistinguishable from one another. These areas corre-
spond to the red-green regions for the deutanope and the
53.23,
83.21,
87.74,
53.83,
86.77,
53.95,

blue-green regions for the tritanope. The third column


contains the original map re-coloured using the proposed
algorithm as perceived by normal, deutanopic and
0.67, 20.85, 20.46
0.49, 20.59, 20.03

tritanopic observers. The fourth column contains the


Table 2. Map palette colour values by algorithm step

0.76, 0.87, 0.28

edge maps for the re-coloured maps. Note that these edge
0.35, 0, 20.59
(L9, Cyb , Crg )

maps show an outline around each point, indicating that


0.59, 0, 21

surrounding polygons are distinguishable from one


0.3, 0, 1
oRGB

another.
95, 115, 255
255, 200, 0

0, 240, 255

DISCUSSION
(R, G, B)

255, 0, 0

0, 255, 0
0, 150, 0
Original

This research introduced a post publication method that


RGB

addresses accessibility for map readers with inherited and


acquired colour vision deficiencies. The OrangeGrey
Azure algorithm utilizes a combination of gamut re-
Orange yellow

mapping and desaturation methodologies to produce a re-


Cobalt blue
Dark green
Pure green

Turquoise

coloured map where confusing colours are rendered


Pure red
Name

distinguishable to red-green deficient and blue-green


deficient observers. The algorithm can process a high-
quality image file in under a half minute. The algorithm is
Increasing Accessibility for Map Readers with Colour Vision Deficiencies 309

Figure 5. The first column contains the original maps produced using a confusing palette as perceived by normal, deutanopic (the predomi-
nant form of inherited CVD) and tritanopic (the predominant form of acquired CVD) observers. The second column contains colour edge
maps of the corresponding images from the first column. The third column contains the original maps re-coloured using the OrangeGrey
Azure algorithm as perceived by normal, deutanopic and tritanopic observers. The fourth column contains colour edge maps of the corre-
sponding images from the third column

currently executed through a stand-alone application but and cornflower blue in another. The OrangeGreyAzure
could easily be adapted into a plug-in for desktop mapping algorithm results in consistent colour reassignment regard-
software. less of the colour composition of the original image. Cobalt
The OrangeGreyAzure algorithm has several features blue, for instance, will always be re-coloured cornflower
that make it ideal for re-colouring maps. First, while the re- blue. This universal colour reassignment is important when
colouring algorithms described prior produce separate re-colouring atlases or map series that rely on a standard
colour images for each CVD type, the proposed algorithm palette, particularly those where the legend is located on a
produces a single colour image that is accessible to red- separate page. The OrangeGreyAzure algorithm is
green deficient and blue-green deficient observers. For intended to re-colour maps already in circulation that are
example, applying Kuhn et al.s (2008a) algorithm to a set inaccessible to observers with colour vision deficiencies. It is
of four maps results in 12 re-coloured maps: a set for not a replacement for good cartographic design.
protanopes, a set for deutanopes and a set for tritanopes. The OrangeGreyAzure algorithm has several limita-
The Orange-GreyAzure algorithm produces just one set of tions. First, the algorithm works by collapsing an image
four maps. Second, although several of the previously with a three dimensional gamut containing millions of
described algorithms have global colour reassignment colours into a two-dimensional gamut containing thou-
within the image, colour re-mapping may vary based on sands of colours. By using just variations in saturation and
the original images colour composition. For example, two hues to represent a spectrum of colours, certain colour
cobalt blue may be re-coloured to greyish-red in one image pairs are bound to be problematic. This occurs when one or
310 The Cartographic Journal

both of the colours have a low saturation. One such pair is Chao, J., Lenz, R., Matsumoto, D. and Nakamura, T. (2008).
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both are re-mapped to greyish azure. Second, the algorithm Chioran, G. M., Sellers, K. L., Benes, S. C., Lubow, M., Dain, S. J. and
re-colours green, a hue confusing to both red-green and King-Smith, P. E. (1985). Color mixture thresholds measured on a
blue-green deficient observers, by desaturation resulting in color television a new method for analysis, classification and diagnosis
of neuro-ophthalmic disease, Documenta Ophthalmologica, 61, pp.
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green may lose visual information. Third, in order to Choi, S., Kim, S. and Kim, S. (2008). Korean web site usability for
produce a gamut that is visible to both red-green and blue- disabled people, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5068, pp.
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Dougherty, B. and Wade, A. (2002). Vischeck. http://vischeck.com/
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originals. The next step will be to gather user feedback from Fidaner, O., Lin, P. and Ozguven, N. (2005). Analysis of Color Blindness
an audience of individuals with acquired and inherited Project. http://scien.stanford.edu/class/psych221/projects/05/
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Gardner, S. D. (2005). Evaluation of the ColorBrewer color schemes
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Masters thesis. Pennsylvania State University. University Park, PA,
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