My experience with the New ATC Color deficiency/colorblind test

goaves2011

Senior Member
Sep 14, 2010
172
0
16
Kerrville
I had a PRK done in 2009 on my eyes to see 20/20, but now I have trouble with the ishihara test. I recently had a color test done from an optometrist, passed that test 100%, but I don't seem to be able to do the ishihara test as I have 5 years ago. Strange, considering the tower I interned at I could see the radar just fine. The ATCOV test does not sound too bad though and if I have to take that, so be it.
 

goaves2011

Senior Member
Sep 14, 2010
172
0
16
Kerrville

coz

Newcomer
Dec 18, 2012
2
0
1
Hello everybody - Center controller here. I have been an ATCS since 2005, MARC school 03. Prior to going to the MARC school, knowing I had a color vision deficiency, I got tested at the regional medical office with their previous practical tests. I failed the ATC light test but passed the flight progress strip test, qualifying me for ARTCC work only. Since then, I have worked under a special consideration waiver which has been renewed every other year with my medical. With my past medical appt. here at work, I failed the Ishihara test as usual only to be told that the agency is getting stricter with their standards. They tried the Dvorine a couple weeks later - failed it too. Surprise. Now, apparently I am slated to travel to SLC for "a more practical test." I can only assume it is the ATCOV. So, I appreciate the information in this thread to this point. Anybody else take it more recently and can maybe let me in, more specifically, on what I can expect? What are the displays like? Is the coloring like on our MDMs, URET, projectors, what? Are you required to identify colors, or just be able to differentiate between them?
Thanks
 

lookitsroadie

Trusted Member
May 30, 2012
360
11
18
www.last.fm
Red light is the least detrimental to your night vision. If you enter a dark room and turn on a white flashlight the time for your eyes to adjust will take longer than would a red light.
"Darken ship. Make darken ship reports to DC Central."

On a different note, are the medical screenings given by the FAA similar or the same to those that military ATC'ers are given? Or is it more in-depth?
 

coz

Newcomer
Dec 18, 2012
2
0
1
Update on me and the ATCOV***
Took the test successfully. Yay.
From what I've been reading around here, looks like the test has been changed again. Test 1 simulates the colors used in ARTS, STARS, Ocean21, and ERAM. I had most difficulty with white and "sky blue". They are virtually identical for me. Test 2 was the locate the flashing red CA on left, right or center of the screen. One part of this test that throws you off is one data block may have a flashing yellow handoff indicator that will try and trick you. Test 3 was the weather one that I have seen described before. And test 4 was differentiating between a white or very light brown line which is apparently used for special use airspace boundaries somewhere.
 

pete2894

Junior Member
Jan 17, 2010
91
0
6
Colorado
I will have to take this test in the next two weeks. Has anybody taken in recently? Where did you take it? I was referenced to SLC for the exam and am curious if travel expenses are paid (if so, is it flying/driving, or whatever is cheaper)? Did you have to pay for the ATCOV itself? Any new updates would be greatly appreciated!
 

Dli1314

Rookie
May 19, 2009
31
0
6
san dimas, ca
It's been a while, and from what I read the rest has changed quite a bit since I started the thread, but I was told it was up to me to pay my way to slc if I wanted to take the test. I just got lucky and was in the right place at the right time and didn't have to travel
 

m57

Senior Member
Mar 22, 2014
194
2
18
Not sure this will offer much to the discussion but....

In about 2005 I was in a CTI program. (Just applied in the public announcement and have an AT-SAT date) I ended up not finishing due to personal/family reasons.

Anyways I'm colorblind and of course have long been in love with ATC. When I was in my CTI school, I called the FAA basically to say "Hey, I'm colorblind, I'd like to know if I complete my CTI program will I just be wasting my time due to my color vision". I flew to the FAA office in my region and was offered the Pre-Hire color vision screening that was in use then.

I should mention that I am a private pilot and have an unrestricted 2nd class medical. I've always been colorblind, can't do the Ishihara, can't do the Farnsworth D-15. I guess I passed whatever test the AME had. I was shocked when I originally got it. FWIW I have no issues seeing VASI/PAPI etc when flying.

Anyways back to 2005, I was offered two tests at the FAA Regional Medical office.

1. Was a lantern that showed red/green/white lights two at a time. The lights were dimmed and I would have to say "Red over white" "Green over red" etc. I failed

2. Was simply reading over printed flight strips and essentially saying if text or writing was black and red. Passed with flying colors (Heyy oh)

I was told that when I would begin the hiring process, should I be hired, I would only be eligible for ARTCCs. Of course I ended up leaving the CTI program but eventually found out that this "waiver" was considered null and void due to "changes in technology" and "development of new testing" which of course makes perfect sense with the AT-COV.
----------

It defintely seems that the AT-COV is far less restrictive and easier. I'm curious to know if anyone knows if the FAA limits what facilities new hires can go to based off testing or if its an across the board (pass/fail) type of thing.

Sorry for being long winded!
 

pete2894

Junior Member
Jan 17, 2010
91
0
6
Colorado
Thanks for the message. Took it Friday and passed with flying colors (see what I did there?)

They paid for everything including cab ride to and from airport in SLC.
 

ny10r1022

Newcomer
Aug 27, 2011
1
0
1
What did the test consist of? Im about to take it this upcoming wednesday for the second time because they created a second version of the one I took 2 years ago and passed because of the new ERAM system that controllers are now using.
 

m57

Senior Member
Mar 22, 2014
194
2
18
Does anyone have an idea or approximation of what the pass/fail % is for the new ATCOV? Also when I took the old practical tests years ago I was told they were facility restrictive (fail the lantern and pass the strips you could only go to an ARTCC). Does the new test offer any of those restrictions as well or is it pass/fail completely?

I found the validation study from a few years ago but that was heavily comprised of test subjects with no ATC experience/knowledge, so I'm not sure how reliable those numbers are.
 

Blaaad

Newcomer
Jul 24, 2014
1
0
1
Hello everyone whose colorblind. I just passed the ATCOV! Heres some help. They just did an update and changed brightness levels. It helps. There are 4 sections. Each section is pass/fail. and you must obtain 90% to pass. You have two chances to pass each section. If you are already in the agency (CPC, or DEV) and you do not pass the first section (radar ID) a report will print and limit you to what equipment you can use. This is STARS, ARTS, ERAM, and OCEAN21. Hopefully if you fail one piece of equipment you don't use that at your Facility. The Radar ID was the hardest for me but here's some tips. Its broken down into each of the four types of equipment. Each data block is diffrent based on that equipment. For STARS if your looking for the color "yellow" it will always be a point out. So yellow data blocks in STARS always have the letters "PO" to the right of the data block. Green DO Not. I cannot tell these colors apart and that is the only way I passed this section. On ERAM when your looking for "RED" it is ALWAYS in the conflict alert. So look for the letters "CA" to the right or on top of the data block. This is simular on OCEAN21 when your looking for "ORANGE" if it has red "CA" to the right of the db it will also have orange, pick that one. Unfortunatly if you cant see orange you may have a problem with this one because there are some dbs where the call sign is orange and there is no "CA" Also on ERAM if you are looking for "CORAL" it only appears two places in the db. The first is on a box around the arrow in between the two altitudes and the second is on a box around the "C" at the end of the alt line of the db. There are no other boxes in the data blocks. If you cannot see the color just scan the second line of the db for an arrow with a box or a "C" with a box. I think that's the non-RVSM indicator but I work VFR tower so I'm unsure. Also on STARS and ARTS section some colors are much easier for me to see on certain back grounds. For example yellow is easier for me to see on the black back ground than the red. If this is the case for you do those first. Remember % based. On OCEAN21 there is a section that has a yellow shade. Some dbs have that in the first two lines and some have the letters "OTP" of "OTV" (sorry cant remember) to the right of the db. Make sure not to forget those. Like I said Radar ID was the hardest and longest section. There are 3 other sections and were easier. On the "CA" Alert portion there are 3 or 4 screens in a row that have "no alert". If you come to a portion and you forgot what color you are looking for you can hit "back" before you make any selections this also resets your time to 30 seconds. And finally read the directions. It sounds silly but the directions will give you clues to the next page. A lot of the dbs have other ways of ID other than color and it will give you hints in the directions. Radar ID took me an hour. The entire test took 1:30. I hope it helps.
 

Purplelobj

Epic Member
Jan 29, 2014
1,646
19
38
Hi All!


I have a friend who just failed his medical because of the color vision test. He is a D1 and was almost D2...he didn’t know he had a color vision deficiency, as he passed his initial medical to get hired. He has to wait to take an alternative test with the flight surgeon. Apparently the test can say you are only qualified for ERAM, Stars, or arts. He is afraid of failing the eram portion and only being eligible for a tracon or tower. Would the FAA then place him at a different facility? Has anyone had any experiences like this?
Absolutely if he does not qualify for the equipment at his facility he will be moved.
 

AlphaSierra

Newcomer
Aug 20, 2011
6
2
3
NY
Hello everyone whose colorblind. I just passed the ATCOV! Heres some help. They just did an update and changed brightness levels. It helps. There are 4 sections. Each section is pass/fail. and you must obtain 90% to pass. You have two chances to pass each section. If you are already in the agency (CPC, or DEV) and you do not pass the first section (radar ID) a report will print and limit you to what equipment you can use. This is STARS, ARTS, ERAM, and OCEAN21. Hopefully if you fail one piece of equipment you don't use that at your Facility. The Radar ID was the hardest for me but here's some tips. Its broken down into each of the four types of equipment. Each data block is different based on that equipment. For STARS if your looking for the color "yellow" it will always be a point out. So yellow data blocks in STARS always have the letters "PO" to the right of the data block. Green DO Not. I cannot tell these colors apart and that is the only way I passed this section. On ERAM when your looking for "RED" it is ALWAYS in the conflict alert. So look for the letters "CA" to the right or on top of the data block. This is similar on OCEAN21 when your looking for "ORANGE" if it has red "CA" to the right of the db it will also have orange, pick that one. Unfortunately if you cant see orange you may have a problem with this one because there are some dbs where the call sign is orange and there is no "CA" Also on ERAM if you are looking for "CORAL" it only appears two places in the db. The first is on a box around the arrow in between the two altitudes and the second is on a box around the "C" at the end of the alt line of the db. There are no other boxes in the data blocks. If you cannot see the color just scan the second line of the db for an arrow with a box or a "C" with a box. I think that's the non-RVSM indicator but I work VFR tower so I'm unsure. Also on STARS and ARTS section some colors are much easier for me to see on certain back grounds. For example yellow is easier for me to see on the black back ground than the red. If this is the case for you do those first. Remember % based. On OCEAN21 there is a section that has a yellow shade. Some dbs have that in the first two lines and some have the letters "OTP" of "OTV" (sorry cant remember) to the right of the db. Make sure not to forget those. Like I said Radar ID was the hardest and longest section. There are 3 other sections and were easier. On the "CA" Alert portion there are 3 or 4 screens in a row that have "no alert". If you come to a portion and you forgot what color you are looking for you can hit "back" before you make any selections this also resets your time to 30 seconds. And finally read the directions. It sounds silly but the directions will give you clues to the next page. A lot of the dbs have other ways of ID other than color and it will give you hints in the directions. Radar ID took me an hour. The entire test took 1:30. I hope it helps.

Just took this today at my Regional Office and can confirm this is pretty spot on. You get two practice tries and then two test attempts for all four sections. When they printed my results, it said the cutoff score was 90 for all sections besides the Weather ID section, which required an 80 apparently.

You have four sections: Radar ID, Alert Detection, Weather ID, and Airspace ID.

For the Alert Detection section, you get 2 seconds of a flash at a screen of datablocks with different colors based on ERAM, STARS, and OCEAN21 (and possibly ARTS, can't recall) color palettes. They are laid out on the screen that is split in 4 with different color backgrounds in each quadrant. The datablocks are placed randomly, but the goal is to find the one that is flashing the "red CA" and determine if it lies on the left side of the screen, the right side of the screen, or if there wasn't any flashing CA at all anywhere. Be wary because it tries to trip you up by also showing a datablock that is flashing entirely, but does not have the CA on it. That is not what you are looking for. It only shows you the entire screen for 2 seconds, then you have to quickly click on the option (left, right, or none). I noticed a tendency to overlook the edges of the screen. They will put a flashing CA datablock in the far corner somewhere every so often and it can be easily missed. This section got pretty nervewracking because it is really quick, and it doesn't stop for your answer. You only get a few seconds to choose before it moves on to the next screen problem for 2 seconds. You have to keep up and stay focused on this one big time. I needed the practice sections very badly on this because when the test came, I failed the first time by 5 points. I started losing focus in the middle and it just snowballed. I recovered within a couple of screens, but the damage was done. I took a retest on that one and passed thankfully.

For the weather ID section, it was a grid of colored squares (something like 8x6, I don't remember) with a single tiny different colored square in the middle of each larger square and you have to pick out the color that they show you in the beginning. For instance, it would be a grid of randomly alternating light blue and royal blue, and you have to select all the squares that have a light blue central square in them (the tiny middle square). Some squares would be light blue with the royal blue tiny square, sometimes it was the opposite. Sometimes the tiny square required would be solid, other times, with a dotted pattern. You have 30 seconds on each grid of (8x6?) with that color set. Then you move on to the next color set which would be between browns and reds, with the same dotted pattern sporadically across the grid. Also greens and yellows. Just pay attention to the tiny square they want you to find. It could be a solid color square or a dotted color square.

Tip: When you are there, take all the practice tests you can take, and develop a memory aid for some of the colors you have trouble with. For me, it was green and yellow. The green looked definitely darker than the yellow, so depending on what you need to select, I would find a baseline color in the problem, remember where it was, and compare it to the next ones that would cause an issue. Helped a lot, because if you go on your initial gut that the color is yellow, but its really green, then you mess yourself up. Try to find two that are different shades and compare them, and use the shade difference as your control. Don't assume the color right away if you have issues with that shade.