Colorblindness Inclusion in NSD
In September 2022, Jayson Vavrek, a postdoctoral researcher within the Applied Nuclear Physics program, gave a presentation at the NSD staff meeting about the need to consider the choice of colors when creating figures and other graphics so that we can better include those who are colorblind or are affected by another form of color vision deficiency (CVD). Measurements vary, but approximately 2–10% of men and 0.1–3% of women have some form of CVD, so a substantial proportion of your audience (roughly 5%) may have some difficulty perceiving color.
Jayson pointed out that although many popular scientific plotting packages have switched to colorblind-friendly default palettes in recent years, it is still important to consider how one’s plots and other graphics will be perceived by those with different abilities to see color. For example, here is a plot using matplotlib’s default color scheme, with the version on the right being adjusted to what a person with deuteranopia (or red-green colorblindness, the most common form of CVD) would see:
Instead of relying on color alone to convey meaning, one can also use text, symbols, and/or texture to signal the difference. In the above example, different line dashing styles would improve the differentiation between the lines. Another key takeaway is to use perceptually uniform colormaps instead of rainbow (or “jet”) colormaps, since they are more inclusive for viewers with CVD (and they can be misleading even for those without CVD!).
These days there are many technological solutions to help those without CVD to be more inclusive of those with CVD. There are specially designed color palettes (e.g., Color Brewer), and both desktop simulation tools (e.g., Color Oracle) and augmented reality mobile apps (e.g., Sim Daltonism) to allow one to see how a given plot or graphic will look under different types of CVD.
Coincidentally, on the very same day that Jayson gave his presentation, one of our colleagues within NSD had just alerted the IDEA Council that several signs and markings within the Laboratory make work harder for colleagues with CVD. In response, the IDEA Council initiated contact with Creative Services, Strategic Communications, and other offices and groups within LBL and has convened a working group to understand the existing policies for colorblindness inclusion at the lab, and to potentially craft new lab-wide recommendations for all staff to be aware of. The council will be informing the division of the progress on these recommendations so that we can continue to build a more safe and inclusive workplace at the lab.
Recent DEI topics @ NSD Staff Meetings
September 27, 2022 – Announcements, and Making colorblind-inclusive figures
October 11, 2022 – Disability Awareness Month
October 25, 2022 – DNP 2022 and Code of Conduct for APS meetings
November 8, 2022 – Native American Heritage Month, Veterans Day, and National Family Caregivers Month
November 22, 2022 – PIER plans for DOE proposals
December 20, 2022 – Winter Break 2022
To recognize their efforts in the area(s) of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability, the following people received a Luminary Card:
Alan Poon and multiple anonymous recipients