The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), May 25, 1880

Full Text

Our Washington dispatches stated Sunday morning that the secretary of the treasury authorizes inspectors of steam vessels to examine, with colored signal lights, all pilots applying for renewal of their license reported by examining surgeon as only incompletely color blind, and, if inspectors are satisfied that the pilots can sufficiently distinguish the colored lights used on steam vessels, it will be within their discretion to renew the license.

This will be hailed with no little satisfaction by the pilots. It is a fact that many competent men who are in no sense afflicted with color blindness, have failed to pass a satisfactory examination when called upon to separate the little skeins of yarn in the office of the examining surgeon. This is due as much to nervousness as anything else, and the mariners are of the opinion that when pilots are competent with colored signal lights many who have passed only imperfect examinations before the surgeons will be found to be free from any suspicion of color blindness. The local inspectors have not yet received an official notice of the action by Secretary Sherman.

Media Type:
Item Type:
It is now known that the human eye responds differently to the spectrum of colored pigment (i.e. reflected color, as in the yarn) than it does to that of colored light; thus the earlier test was probably not very appropriate to test color-blindness as it affected the job of pilots. Nearly all transportation workers in the U.S. are still required to take a color-blindness test.
Date of Original:
May 25, 1880
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), May 25, 1880