- Wiki on Color Blind Glasses
In addition to starting my MSc last month, I’ve also been spending some time cleaning up the terrible state of color vision articles on Wikipedia. Today I published a new article, which until now was just a few lines on the colorblindness article and in the EnChroma article. Color blind glasses (color correcting glasses) now have their own article with quite a bit of information on each kind (EnChroma, Vino, ColorMax, X-chrom, etc.). I am used to being pretty fast and loose with my sources in the videos, so writing on wikipedia has really required me to be more specific about the provenance of information. I started using Zotero to track my sources and this has been a big help in planning my videos too.
- First human cured of colorblindness!?
A paper was published at the end of August in the journal BRAIN that shows possibly that the first case of colorblindness has been cured. This comes after 13 years of apparent stagnation in gene therapy for CVD, ever since the Neitz Lab cured dichromacy in 2 squirrel monkeys in 2009.
The study involves 4 achromatic teenagers, 2 of each of the 2 main forms of achromatopsia, affecting either the CNGA3/CNGB3 proteins, which form part of the phototransduction pathway required for the cone photoreceptors to send signals to the brain.
The 4 subjects received gene therapy via a subretinal injection and after several months, fMRI in 2 of the subjects showed that the brain patterns excited by watching a spinning disk were very similar whether the scotopic (rod-driven) system or the photopic (cone-driven) system was active (depending on brightness). This indicated that the cones were now functional, which should at least alleviate some of the worst symptoms for achromats: photophobia and poor visual acuity.
Whether the subjects were able to interpret color was interestingly, out of the scope of the article. However, its also expected that the development of color vision would take several months and possibly be mild. Regardless, one older subject did claim that he had an easier time interpreting traffic lights. I’ll be making a video on these results soon.
- My least favourite traffic sign
Another short up this week. There is a traffic sign that means “give way to oncoming traffic” often seen on single-lane bridges that in europe looks similar to the sign pictured below.
Since protans perceive red as darker, in many conditions, this sign can appear all black and therefore potentially be confused with a sign meaning “two-way traffic”, which would encourage the driver to continue into oncoming traffic instead of yielding.
Many viewers commented that the two-way traffic is actually supposed to be triangular, and the circular sign isn’t allowed under the Vienna Convention, which is true, despite existing on the internet.
That said, I don’t think it completely dilutes the point, as the signs should be differentiable on multiple characteristics (not just the sign shape), and I think the choices of triangle vs. circle are often arbitrary at best. I would argue that the “give way to oncoming traffic” should – if anything – be the same arrows in an upside down triangle to be more in line with other priority-related signs instead of prohibitory signs, which it is absolutely not. Likewise, the two-way traffic should be in the circle and not the triangle, since it doesn’t involve yielding to anyone.
- New FAQ and Tools pages
Last week, I put together some new content for the website. I was introduced to Adobe’s new color accessibility tools and needed to highlight them somewhere, because they are an absolutely brilliant tool for facilitating colorblind-accessible design. So I made a Tools page, where I outline that and 3 other tools that I use all the time.
Also, I put together an FAQ page. This whole project was kind of envisioned as a giant FAQ. People kept posting the same questions and misconceptions about colorblindness on reddit, and instead of answering them every time, I thought just linking to a video would be more effective. I can’t make videos about everything – or rather… fast enough – so I’ll just cover everything in there and link to videos as available/applicable.
- My favorite way to explain colorblindness
Last week I made a short for YouTube that I have been thinking about for awhile. The absolute quickest way to describe what is happening to colors for the colorblind… is just to squish a color wheel.
- Indian Universities Open Up Slightly
The most common complaint among the color blind, is how many careers we are prohibited from having. In the west, it is common for the military, police and aviation to restrict entry to the red-green colorblind, but in the developing world, the prognosis for the colorblind is much bleaker. When I say the developing world though, I specifically mean India, who grabs the most headlines, mainly because of our shared language.
India has typically kept a stranglehold on their colorblind citizens by restricting even careers that the west would consider specifically accessible to the colorblind, such as engineering and accounting roles. Its no wonder that such a large part of Chromaphobe’s viewership is from India.
Luckily, it has been getting better for India’s colorblind. In 2020, The federal government removed restrictions against receiving driver’s licenses for the mild and moderately colorblind, and last month, colorblind Indians earned another victory when the supreme court ruled in favour of a student who had been denied admission to film school based on his colorblind.
In 2015, Ashutosh Kumar was accepted into a program for film editing at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), only to have his admission revoked when they discovered he was colorblind during a routine medical exam. Their grand reasoning, as revealed during the ensuing 6-year legal battle, was that his admission was not “technically feasible”.
It turns out, “not technically feasible” refers to the color-grading module of the degree, which would indeed be a problem for Kumar, but when that module comprises one 20-minute module of a 3 year degree, its basically irrelevant.
To me, this would be akin to saying that I should not have been allowed to complete highschool in Canada because my Protanopia rendered me useless at the 1 or 2 days of titration labs in my chemistry class. To ban someone who would be unable to complete what probably amounts to less than 1% of the degree’s total scope is simply… vindictive.
If a colorblind student wants to enroll in a program to be a colourist, than I can support such a ban. However, as a film editor myself – and not only for the Chromaphobe YouTube channel – colorblindness is hardly ever a factor, and definitely not one that can’t be easily overcome.
Case in point: Christopher Nolan is colorblind and it has not prevented him from entering the upper echelons of filmmaking. While he is known mainly as a writer/director, he also has five editing credits from early in his career. Not to say that his colorblindness had zero effect on his career. After all, most of the editing credits were on black and white film stock… but filmmaking is an artform where our differences should be celebrated.
This was actually reflected in the supreme court’s decision when they forced the FTII to admit Kumar, stating that “filmmaking and editing is a form of art… the institute must adopt an inclusive and progressive approach“. Kumar will begin his studies in 2023: 7 years late…
The supreme court has mandated this ruling apply to all film schools in India, but it doesn’t look like there will be much help for the prospective colorblind engineers currently barred from receiving engineering degrees, since engineering can not so readily be described as a form of art. That said, India’s Right to Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 is still young, and could be making some more changes in the future. I hope India’s colorblind continue to win back their rights.
- Dutch Bike Lanes
I made my second youtube short earlier this month about a disappointing run-in with bike lanes in Holland.
Second part of the series on the evolution of color vision will come out later this weekend.
- Escape Rooms
Just had a call with the owner of an escape room. I chatted with the game master after a game, which saw my wife and I go head-to-head in an arcade style battle. The theme was highly colorful and being alone in the room without my wife to rely on posed several issues.
First, there was a game of Snake that you play on the ceiling. Once my snake reached 3-4 pixels in length, the game would restart. I assumed the game was glitched until I started talking to my wife across the wall. Nope! It turns out there were ‘hidden’ green blocks on the yellow background that I kept running into and dying. Hidden to me at least. Without knowing where they were, I could just hope to avoid them, but eventually just put down the joystick and waited for my wife to trigger the next stage.
My Solution? Change the colors. The hardware for this game relies on RGB LEDs, which means the code just needs one number to change to make that green darker, and therefore differentiable from the yellow background.
Second, there was a triangle of colored LEDs that you need to use some buttons to rotate and slowly arrange into a triforce pattern. This pattern must match a picture on a screen elsewhere in the room. The first problem, is that the colors (blue and purple) looked very similar and were barely differentiable, but I managed. However, knowing which corner each color was supposed to go in was a wild guess, since the colors on the puzzle and the color on the solution reference in the other part of the room were not directly comparable.
My Solution? Again… change the colors. Getting four colors that are not only easily differentiable, but also can be compared to a solution with slightly different colors is quite easy to satisfy all dichromats: purple. red, yellow, white. I also recommended changing the logic of the puzzle so that it doesn’t matter which colors are grouped in which corner, as long as they ARE arranged in that ‘triforce’ pattern. I imagine a color-normal person would never ‘chance’ into an alternative solution and it should only matter to not frustrate a colorblind player when they think they’ve found the solution, but got the colors from the reference mixed up.
Finally, there were two puzzles with lasers. The first required a Katherine Zeta-Jones style maneuvering around the lasers (I imagine I was just as sexy). The second was a classic ‘arrange the mirrors to get the laser to hit the target’ puzzle. I had no issues with these… because I specifically chose the blue-room instead of the red room. Blue lasers are super visible to me, but red lasers are often invisible, as they are to most protans. Had I been in the red room, that would have been two more unsolvable puzzles for me.
My Solution? Well, without ruining the red vs. blue theme so carefully conserved by the owner, just ensuring that colorblind people go in the blue room is all that is necessary here. Just a little extra training for the game masters, or something to add to the disclaimer.
Funnily enough, the owner tells me that they have a colorblind game master that also had trouble with all of these things. Whoops.
Changing even one number in code can be expensive when you outsourced the development (this I know), which is why things like colors should be stored in a parameter file that can be easily changed by the end user. The compromise for the owner was to put a message on the booking website that colorblind people should be in at least a group of 3 so they aren’t alone in a room, and they will look into having some cheap ‘colorblind glasses’ on hand. This is actually a pretty good application for some cheap magenta lenses, since there is no Denotative Color Task involved in the rooms. While I usually refer to these lenses as a blunt instrument, a filter that can just tweak the yellow and green in the Snake game to look slightly different without caring that everything may look ‘unnatural’, is a great solution in this over-saturated escape room.
Out of 50-60 escape rooms I have done with my wife, maybe about half have had puzzles that are at least very difficult for me, if not impossible, and the vast majority of those could have easily been designed to be colorblind friendly without sacrificing the theme. Have you ever had trouble in an escape room because of your colorblindness? Tell me about it in the comments.
- 15 FPS
After receiving a pair of complaints, I realized that all of my videos have footage of myself downsampled to 15FPS, making them incredibly choppy. As one fellow youtuber said:
“oh yeah dude it’s fucking awful lmao. I’ll be straight up with you 🤣 Delete and reupload bro“
After a lot of troubleshooting, I still don’t know what the problem was, but It doesn’t seem to happen anymore after updating my editor. What a shame.
- Thanks for the promotion?
My last video on Cooking Meat started exploding after a week. I got excited until I saw the source was all from paid promotion. Someone apparently paid to get this video advertised on youtube. My wife claims it wasn’t her… the plot thickens.
Funnily enough, the viewer retention (how long they watched on average) of those that watched it from the ad was way better than those who watched it from links from facebook/reddit or even those who specifically have a notification set up for when I upload a video. Very strange…
Anyway, thank you kind stranger for the free views that did draw some new subscribers!