With the wonderful genetics passed from by grandfather via my mother, I'm acquired the blue/ purple-green/brown color blind trait.

How will this affect my capability in properly doing/ interpreting my own or other peoples mapping ?

  • 1
    Are there any areas of interest within the GIS field that you are interested in? Many people, including myself, rarely make maps where particular color combinations are important, but rather use GIS as a means to answer questions (e.g. how many km^2 of forest cover exist in an area? or is a particular area suitable for a species habitat). Color blindness should not be a limiting factor.
    – Aaron
    Jan 2 '15 at 18:35
  • 1
    You could view colorblindness as a slight advantage, as producing maps for colorblind audience is sometimes a requirement, which presumably you would do naturally.
    – phloem
    Jan 2 '15 at 18:38
  • 1
    Even if you had profound color blindness (grayscale vision), it wouldn't interfere with being a GIS professional. There's a lot more to GIS than making maps, and making maps that depend on perfect color acuity is not part of GIS.
    – Vince
    Jan 2 '15 at 19:17

Why do you feel that this will barriar you from doing the GPS or GIS work ? I am hearing impaired and I do have a colorblind ? It takes a while for you to make some adjust to your needs. For me to communicate people, I use videophone to talk to other people. I have worked GIS for many years....That has not stopped me from what I love doing this work.

Here is the information about some of people who are colorblind to GIS maps

Accounting for Colour Blindness when designing maps?

  • OK, that is great to hear! When I see typical maps, the colors become overwhelming at times. I look for lines, way points, numbers, borders etc. and less at the colors to try to place myself. I want to make sure I appear professional and not completely lost in the map as I'm trying to communicate with clients etc. Thanks for the information, appreciate it.
    – Philippe
    Jan 2 '15 at 19:08
  • Just helping you out, @Philippe
    Jan 3 '15 at 15:52

If you're going to be using GIS for analysis, application development, etc., color blindness would not make a difference. If you're going to be doing a lot of map design, color blindness will have to be taken into account in your work, but I don't think that it should hold you back in your career. I do not specifically know of GIS professionals who are color blind, though that could be just because it hasn't come up in conversation, and I would assume that there are some out there.

Regarding interpreting maps that other people have designed, you will have to make do with some maps that have not been optimized for the color blind, but you also have the opportunity to educate colleagues about the issue. For one early project I designed a map using a diverging red-green color ramp, only to find out that one of my co-PIs was red-green color blind. He said the map looked like mud to him. So I redesigned it using a different color ramp.

In terms of your own map design, anything you design where you can tell the colors apart should also be interpretable by someone who was not color blind, though I don't know how it will impact the aesthetics. But, for all GIS professionals, if you have not gone to art school and do not have an in-depth understanding of color theory (I haven't and don't), then you should rely on the work of Cynthia Brewer and make use of her ColorBrewer. Her color ramps have become the de facto standard in the industry, and have been incorporated into R, QGIS, and ArcGIS (and probably others as well). The ColorBrewer website allows you to specifically choose palettes that are "color blind friendly" (notice the checkbox in the middle left of the screenshot below). This is useful for those of us who are not color blind to be able to choose ramps that are accessible to the color blind, but would also allow you to choose color palettes that are attractive and informative even if they are not color blind friendly.

ColorBrewer website screenshot


I am a GIS developer and have only red-green color blindness. I work with WebGIS-Applications. It is only rarely a problem during my work. As Lee Hachadoorian pointed out, there is always the ColorBrewer. Sometimes I Email my customers the link to it and ask them to select the color scheme they like best.

Some customers also have the same problem and they are happy that I understand their problems. One of the gets a color scheme ranging from blue to red instead of green to red for showing activity of plants or their health status.

Another possibility that I use quite frequently is to send a Customer a link to a Color-table and ask them: "Which shade of red or green would you like?", e.g. using: https://web.njit.edu/~walsh/rgb.html

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