Articles | Volume 2
04 Jun 2021
 | 04 Jun 2021

Tailoring basemaps for color vision impaired people

Jennifer M. Misiukas, Vincent van Duijnhoven, Rick A. Klöpping, and Gerard Porras Cantons

Keywords: Basemaps, Color vision impairment, Vector tiles, Topographic maps

Abstract. Widely used basemaps are not particularly inclusive when it comes to color vision impaired users. The use of colors, even though perfect for the representation of features, does not always account for color vision impairments. Certain combinations of colors in basemaps are indistinguishable for colorblind people. With the awareness that those disabilities should be considered when designing a basemap, Esri Nederland and Kadaster instigated the research on the topic, aiming to create a methodology on how to optimize the basemaps for color vision impaired users. The methodology developed was applied in the assessment of six basemaps and improvements were performed in the two most commonly used basemaps in the Netherlands, the Esri World Topographic Map, and the BRT Achtergrondkaart Standaard. Suitable shades were selected to replace the problematic ones in the original basemaps, and the target group evaluated the improvements through surveys. The results showed that the commonly used basemaps are able to well represent the features in a colorblind-friendly way. However, there is room for improvements in order to achieve more suitable and inclusive basemaps.