Color blindness

General Regulations on how a NEHA hillclimb should function, how the series works, etc.

Color blindness

Postby drummingpariah » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:54 am

Red flags indicate caution/stop, which hasn't been an issue for me in the past. However, against a backdrop of leaves and trees, those red flags simply disappear for me. While working a corner, if the flag is on the ground, I can only find it by looking for the handle. I know colorblindness (at least Deuteranomaly, which is the red/green colorblindness I have) isn't exactly uncommon, so I'm curious as to how it's been handled in the past. Red flags are only used when there's a safety concern, and I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of trying to pick out the shape of a flag against a similarly-colored background. I'm open to any advice anyone has, but I'm concerned that I may not be able to safely race unless that flag is modified.

You probably see a number in this image, all I see are dots.
Image

Now imagine that number in there is the red flag on a woodland background.

There are also several other types of colorblindness. This image simulates the differences between how a person with each would see an image.
Image

I don't really like the idea of changing rules just because of me, but red flags are an important safety consideration (aren't they all important?), and it's not one I can simply adapt to. I'm really looking forward to getting to race next season, and would appreciate any advice or feedback I can get.

Possible solutions:
1 - High-reflective tape around the border of the flag. That would be easy to see for anyone with their headlights on, and I'll be happy to keep mine on if that's what gets me on the hill safely.
2 - Change the color to a solid blue. The most common colorblindness is red/gree, which is essentially an inability to distinguish 'warm' colors from one another. Green, brown, yellow, orange, and red are all perceived as being the same color, with varying intensities (brown is normally darker than yellow). Switching to blue may not do any good for blue-yellow colorblind people (who would see a light blue as the same color as autumn leaves), but blue-yellow is much more rare.
3 - Use checkered flags. The problem here is that a typical black/white checkered flag conveys the exact opposite signal to drivers that it should. Safety workers are thinking "STOP STOP STOP" and drivers are thinking "WOO CHECKERS! FASTER!" ... that kind of inconsistency with every other sport everywhere could be disasterous, so I really don't like this solution. Maybe a black/red or white/red or blue/red checkered flag would work for everyone?
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Re: Color blindness

Postby sachilles » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:09 am

I'm not against accommodating your request, but I think you will find in practice, that a worker standing aside the road will be just as much of a signal as the flag itself.
It is not uncommon to have them waving whatever is handy when and improvised situation arises.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby Rabbit Farmer » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:32 am

Image

I don't see much of anything in there... might be a 44, but far from clear.

Perhaps add a diagonal to the flag (diver down!) or a dot (meatball) using a different color.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby KevinGale » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:59 am

Rabbit Farmer wrote:Image

I don't see much of anything in there... might be a 44, but far from clear.

Perhaps add a diagonal to the flag (diver down!) or a dot (meatball) using a different color.


I don't see anything either but I have no problem seeing workers showing me a red flag. I have some color blindness. The flag and the worker stand out no matter what the color. It is a person holding a big flag of a solid color. It doesn't blend in with anything since the background even with leaves is never a solid color. In practice I don't think you will have a problem Also we don't always use red. Sometimes we have used yellow flags at Ascutney. The drivers are told so stop no matter what the color. In fact if you see a worker standing on the side of the road showing you anything or just waving his arms you should stop.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby KevinGale » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:10 pm

You will also pick out the movement. The worker is never standing completely still and they are moving the flag back and forth.

I was worried when I started that I wouldn't see the flags just because of tunnel vision but I've never missed one and I've been flagged many times including three times in one day at Okemo.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby Challenger392 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:07 pm

I also find tat once you know a hill a little you know where the checkpoints are and where the workers should be. So if someone is standing beside the road waving at a checkpoint its quite obvious. Every time I've been flagged its been imensly obvious.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby Chief Geek » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:38 pm

Jesse's right, the 100 year old choice of red = stop / green = go wasn't well considered. (Was color blindness understood in the same way it is now?)

Luckily, we aren't trying to convey complex information with the flag. There are only 2 states, "OK" and "SERIOUSLY NOT OK". When all is OK, the workers are invisible.

I've stopped a couple of cars just by flailing my arms at them while running toward edge of the road. It seems that the drivers are pretty sensitive to a worker is trying to get their attention.

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Re: Color blindness

Postby drummingpariah » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:34 pm

Ok, maybe I'm overthinking this and am more worried than I should be. That makes me feel a lot better about it. Still, if the point of the flag is to be as obvious as possible, maybe adding reflective tape around the border of it isn't a bad idea in the future?
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Re: Color blindness

Postby walterclark » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:57 pm

drummingpariah wrote:Ok, maybe I'm overthinking this and am more worried than I should be. That makes me feel a lot better about it. Still, if the point of the flag is to be as obvious as possible, maybe adding reflective tape around the border of it isn't a bad idea in the future?


It appears no one else see this as an issue. If you think it is a problem, then I suggest you offer to be the solution. That doesnt mean suggesting that someone else do this. It means that you make a proposal that you will implement such as gathering up the flags used by the 3 clubs, sewing a suitable contrasting border on each, and returning them.
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Re: Color blindness

Postby drummingpariah » Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:06 pm

walterclark wrote:It appears no one else see this as an issue. If you think it is a problem, then I suggest you offer to be the solution. That doesnt mean suggesting that someone else do this. It means that you make a proposal that you will implement such as gathering up the flags used by the 3 clubs, sewing a suitable contrasting border on each, and returning them.


I hadn't even considered that. I'm certainly not against offering to be the solution, I just don't want to dive in trying to change everything that might not be perfectly suited to me. I've worked two events, raced none, and the last thing I want to do is step on anybody's toes at this point. I'm happy to accept that it's not a big enough issue to act on, but I still think it was a worthwhile question to ask the more experienced people.
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