Photo from The Fort Myers News-Press
Photo by Theresa Baldwin of Roseate Spoonbills at “Ding” Darling seen with normal color vision versus colorblind vision; colorblind conversion courtesy of EnChroma, Inc.
Among the 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is the first to expand its accessibility initiatives to include a spotting scope for colorblind visitors.
The scope, specially engineered by See-Coast Manufacturing with EnChroma’s patented lens technology for color blindness, was unveiled at the Wildlife Drive observation tower last week.
One in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women (0.5%) are color-vision challenged; 13 million in the United States alone are born with the genetic deficiency. That means that out of the refuge’s nearly 1 million visitors annually, statistically, an estimated 42,500 are color blind.
While people with normal color vision see more than 1 million hues and shades of color, those with color vision deficiency only see an estimated 10% of color variations. As a result, their color spectrum is more limited and certain colors are difficult to differentiate from each other.
“Ding” Darling is at the forefront of public lands and cities that are bringing this new technology to change the outdoor experience for colorblind people. The refuge is the first such public viewing scope in Florida and on any federal lands. Fewer than 20 other such scopes are available currently to the public throughout the nation.
“This follows on the heels of numerous accommodations — such as the observation tower’s accessible ramp, the lift at the Visitor & Education Center, and wheelchair accessibility on Tarpon Bay Explorers tram tours — to make visitor services at the refuge available to the greater public,” said Toni Westland, supervisory refuge ranger. “EnChroma’s donation of corrective eyeglasses will allow colorblind children and adults eventually to check them out for use on Wildlife Drive.”
So heartwarming to learn about such a great project, helping to ensure that everyone will soon be able to see our wildlife friends in the vibrant technicolors Mother Nature intended!