Montgomery Co. offers a special lens to view fall for colorblind visitors

Ashlyn Thompson’s father recently received an invitation to view the vibrant red, yellow and orange colors of fall. As a colorblind person, it’s something he’s never seen before.

Montgomery Parks recently acquired special color-correcting glasses for color deficient visitors, and the agency did a test run last month that included Thompson’s dad.

“We invited six volunteers to try these glasses for the first time,” said Thompson, who’s also an Inclusion and Community Outreach specialist at the agency. “It was a lot of ‘Oh my gosh, this is what you guys see every day?’ It was incredibly heartwarming.”

Colorblindness is a difficulty seeing the difference between certain colors, especially red and green. Some color deficient people also struggle making out blue, green and yellow objects. The condition is often inherited and has no cure.

The glasses were developed by EnChroma, a California-based company. Thompson said she was introduced to the glasses by another colleague, and she immediately reached out to EnChroma to establish a partnership.

Montgomery County paid for six of the glasses, which range between $300 and $1,200 each. The company donated another six glasses.

“We have a total of 12,” Thompson told WTOP. “Six of them will stay at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton and six will stay with the program access office. Visitors can request to use them at any of our park sites.”

Colorblind visitors can borrow the glasses for free.

Thompson said another reason why the county acquired the glasses is because how common colorblindness is. About 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are color deficient, she said.

“I had no idea until we reached out to EnChroma,” she said. “We just don’t recognize it unless you know somebody [with colorblindness].”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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