AMITIAE - Friday 21 December 2012
Color Blindness Test from EnChroma: for the iPhone and iPad
By Graham K. Rogers
IntroductionIn most color blindness tests, a series of cards is used and the person tested is asked to identify a number hidden in each of the displays. Technology has moved on and in any optician's office there is an array of electronic analytical tools. A heads-up from Kelly Hodgkins on TUAW, took me to the Color Blindness Test by EnChroma on the App Store which I downloaded and examined myself.
Color Blindness Test (1)After a quick display of a logo screen, the user is taken to a straightforward menu of four buttons. There are two items concerned with the testing - Start test and Test result - and two for information: about Color Blindness (Or Color Vision Deficiency - CVD); and About EnChroma.
That last item gives some information about the company and their eyewear products The app is, in some ways, an extended advertisement for the company, but as this brings a useful, functioning test app to users, this is an excellent way to use this medium. Not only do the immediate target customers have the benefits, but this could provide a quick and useful screening facility in those places where resources are limited.
The Information section explains in clear text what color blindness is, but does add a warning that the app does not provide a medical diagnosis. Nonetheless, such apps can give an indication that a problem may exist and lead to proper medical attention.
Color Blindness Test (2)The test itself is preceded by a short text description in English. This is a well-thought out explanation: one screen; concise; informative. An object lesson in clarity. At the bottom is a button marked Start demonstration: not the test itself, one notes, although as befits a good demonstration it has the same processes as the test proper. The app may be used in either portrait or landscape mode although the screen and buttons are displayed differently. This made no difference to ease of use.
Each of the demo test screens is a mix of neutral grey dots of mixed sizes with the shape in the centre. Each of the shapes is also made up of dots, but in the demo these were of a darkish pink.
In the test, backgrounds are a mix of neutral colors (not only grey) with the shape in another color. With each there is sometimes more, sometimes less contrast. As a control, some screens have no shapes (or so it seemed), but I looked hard nevertheless.
I tried first in really poor conditions: wearing sunglasses on a moving train. I was still able to see most of the shapes correctly. When I tested properly in good light conditions and wearing my reading glasses, I was sure of most decisions I made concerning the shapes, but with a number I had to use the "Nothing ?" button.
With the information screen was a button that allowed me to request a report from EnChroma. An email was sent and almost immediately a report was returned. At the bottom there was a repeat of the warning that this was not a true medical diagnosis.
CommentsThis is an easy to use, free app with one main purpose: a quick screening for color vision deficiencies. Like many of the best apps, it does one thing and it does it well. There are no frills and the app is easy to understand, even for those who cannot read English. In some situations it could provide a simple check: a less than perfect result may indicate further testing is needed.
One of the students had a form of color blindness that caused him difficulties with certain shades and neutral colours (as he explained it to me). We ran the test with the panels displayed on a large screen in the classroom, discussing the process with his feedback and theirs, so that they might be able to analyse and write more effectively in the future.
During the class, another student downloaded the app onto his iPad, to allow himself another view of the screens. I saw that this used the full screen display for all the tests and was easier to handle than on my iPhone.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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