NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Tourism installed a colorblind viewfinder at Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville Thursday, becoming the 13th scenic overlook in Tennessee with EnChroma technology accommodating colorblind visitors just in time for peak fall foliage.
"We just think it's important. That's a community that we want to not just be sensitive to but also provide them the opportunity that we the blessings that we get to see with these beautiful fall colors every year. And now, we're expanding that to where folks with those deficiencies can come and experience what we've been able to enjoy for these many years," said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell.
Ezell explained the initiative "just makes sense."
"We think the next chapter in conservation is accessibility for all of our visitors. We had 2.2 million visitors last year [at Radnor Lake State Park]...and 190,000 visitors last month alone," detailed Radnor Lake State Natural Area Park Manager Steve Ward.
The viewfinder at Radnor Lake State Park is the first to be ADA accessible and the park provides a complementary rugged motorized wheelchair for guests to make their way to the observation deck.
"The design of the post, we made it exceed federal requirements for wheelchair accessibility," said Ward. "The horizontal bar has to be so many inches from the deck for wheelchair to be going under where somebody is comfortable and using the viewfinder. The height of the actual optics has to be a certain number of inches from the deck. So all that's planned and measured.'
The viewfinder is equipped with spectral lens technology from EnChroma designed to help those with red-green color deficiency experience the fall colors.
One in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women (.5%) are color blind – 350 million worldwide and 13 million in the US. While people with normal color vision see over one million shades of color, the color blind only see an estimated 10% of hues and shades.
On Thursday, seven Tennesseans who are colorblind went to Radnor Lake State Park for the first peek through the new colorblind viewfinder.
The attendees ranged from elementary school to retirement: One was held back from a career as a pilot because he could not pass the eye exam and soon learned he was colorblind and another who is enjoying a successful career as a graphic designer despite his colorblindness.
"I only see green and different shades of green. That's all I see. But I know because my parents always talk about oranges and red and stuff like that. So I'm hoping it's pretty cool," said Nashville resident Scot Burner before he looked through the viewfinder for the first time.
He said he found out he was colorblind in elementary school and has been teased throughout his life with people often telling him to 'stop joking.'
"People just think that you're being stupid, which sort of sucks. It's like no this is what it’s like and people are like, ‘What can you see?’ and I'm like, ‘I don't know how to describe it,’" explained Burner.
After looking through the viewfinder, Burner said, "I can definitely see the difference in the colors much better. But I am still not the best to tell which colors they are."
Now with a son of his own who is also colorblind, Burner said he will bring his son back to viewfinder at Radnor Lake State Park for him to experience the colors for himself.
Wayne Baird also experienced the viewfinder Thursday and said, "I've never seen somebody spending money on someone that's colorblind. It’s always been more of a disability than a I've never seen something like this. So I think it's an incredible."