Project: Colour Blindness and Information Visualization

Colour-blindness and information visualization are common enough that the interaction between the two has a substantial impact on everyday life. At least 5% of the population is colour-blind, and these individuals encounter colour-utilizing information visualizations on a daily basis. This interaction is difficult and frustrating for the colour-blind individual, resulting in lost productivity through decreased accuracy, increased response times, and reduced job satisfaction. Additionally, these difficulties can compromise public and personal safety when colour is used to communicate safety-critical information. Overall, these difficulties can lead to increased corporate and public expenses and decreased satisfaction for the colour-blind individual.

To improve the usability of colour-based information visualizations for colour-blind individuals, we will automatically fit the colours displayed in colour visualizations to the individual user's colour perceptual range. The fitted colours will maximize the use of the restricted palette that the colour-blind user can see. This will require that a colour perception model for each user be developed. This model will then be used to identify confusing colours, which will be modified by adjusting colour properties such as hue, saturation or brightness. This approach should allow greater separation of confused colours for colour- blind users of this system, reducing their response times and increasing their accuracy when they perform colour-dependent tasks.

Contact David Flatla if you would like more information about this project.


David Flatla
University of Dundee
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


A Predictive Model of Colour Differentiation
Flatla, D. (2009) M.Sc. Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Department of Computer Science. Sasktatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Best Graduate Student Award.
Individual Models of Color Differentiation to Improve Interpretability of Information Visualization
Flatla, D., Gutwin, C. (2010), CHI '10: Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 2563-2572. Honorable Mention Award. <doi:10.1145/1753326.1753715>