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OS maps for people with colour deficiencies

UK: Ordnance Survey has made breakthrough in colour mapping for people with colour deficiencies. It has designed colour palette that will make colour maps accessible to the entire land and property markets, including people with Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD).

CVD is an inability to see certain colours; it affects approximately one in 12 men and one in 100 women in the UK and can make the traditional colours used for maps virtually indistinguishable. The new colour palette developed by OS aims to put an end to the map-reading challenge, with shades that are both CVD friendly and easy to read for anyone without colour vision deficiencies.

OS is working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to incorporate the new colour palette in its products. Among the first expected to benefit from the new innovation will be customers of OS VectorMap Local, a fully customisable product which allows users to create maps to their own individual specifications. With the new colour palette companies in the land and property industry will be able for the first time to create maps that are accessible to everyone including people with CVD, ensuring they are reaching and catering to their entire workforce.

Simon Duquénoy, Senior Technical Product Manager at OS said, “It will take our maps to a whole new level of accessibility and mean that a simple skill that is crucial to the land and property markets will soon be within everyone’s reach. We also hope that it will inspire others and make a real difference to the lives of people with CVD.”

The most significant trend in remarks from the user group was the importance of familiarity. CVD users were familiar with certain feature depictions e.g. road classification colours and were thrown by colours based on the science of CVDs. User group feedback was most positive about the palette with optimised versions of familiar feature colours.

The cartographic team came to realise that it was possible to create a colour palette and cartographic output that is accessible to all colour vision deficiencies. This style, they discovered, can also be aesthetically pleasing and easy to read for those without colour vision deficiencies.

Source: K+R