Exploring the impact of colour blindness on colour-based citizen science projects

21 April 2021

Many citizen science projects depend on colour vision. Examples include classification of soil or water types and biological monitoring. However, up to 1 in 11 participants are colour blind. We simulate the impact of various forms of colour blindness on measurements with the Forel-Ule scale, which is used to measure water colour by eye with a 21-colour scale. 

Colour blindness decreases the median discriminability between Forel-Ule colours by up to 33% and makes several colour pairs essentially indistinguishable. This reduces the precision and accuracy of citizen science data and the motivation of participants. These issues can be addressed by including uncertainty estimates in data entry forms and discussing colour blindness in training materials. These conclusions and recommendations apply to colour-based citizen science in general, including other classification and monitoring activities. Being inclusive of the colour blind increases both the social and scientific impact of citizen science.

Read the full paper in PLOS ONE