Environmental Visual Literacy

I had the honour of delivering a plenary lecture at the annual conference of the International Colour Association. The conference was held in Buenos Aires, 15-17 October 2019.

In the paper ‘Environmental visual literacy: Examining the roles of colour and contrast’, I presented findings from my ongoing research project. This research focuses on the ways in which colour and contrast enhance environmental visual literacy. Robust environmental visual literacy is particularly important in supporting orientation and wayfinding initiatives, and safety measures, especially for those with declining visual and cognitive capacity.

The paper referred to a research project that investigated variations of colour/contrast strategies within the context of pedestrian crossing design. The research methodology included a survey conducted in two stages in 2018. Participants evaluated a range of colour/contrast interventions that represented a departure from the usual simple white striped pedestrian crossing design. As such, some of the designs represented a form of ‘tactical urbanism’.

The evaluations were conducted using the Delphi technique with a panel comprised of people with expert knowledge of colour research and application. Specifically, delegates at the annual conference of the Colour Society of Australia (Melbourne, 2018) and the annual conference of the International Colour Association (Lisbon, 2018). The colour/contrast strategies featured a range of analogous and contrasting colour designs, and participants were asked to nominate the designs that attracted attention and stood out more. Nominal group consensus was used to quantify the extent to which each colour/contrast strategy attracted more attention and stood out more relative to the other strategies.

The pedestrian crossing designs are illustrated below and the designs that achieved the highest rating were the high chroma dots design, photoluminescent stripes and high chroma contrasting colours.

The International Colour Association publishes proceedings of all AIC conferences and these can be accessed via this link.

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