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I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Boston Marathon, especially the seniors. It is by far the best day of the year regardless of the weather that is part of why Boston College is so special.
I was having a tough time deciding what my topic would be this week. I have always wanted to write one about how technology is improving the lives of people with some type of disability. My “aha!” moment was when my roommate saw an Instagram post that was a bunch of red and green dots where the green dots spelled out a word. He turned to me and said, “This is just a bunch of dots.” That’s when I remembered he is red-green color blind. About 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some type of color blindness with red-green being the most common. When I thought about disabilities and diseases, I thought of the most common like Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, etc. But for some reason color blindness never crossed my mind. I think it is because in our society it can be one of the more overlooked disabilities. Although it is not physically harmful in any way, the ability to see color properly is one of the beautiful things about life that those without this disability may take for granted. I hope that my blog will shed more light on this disability and the awesome work being done to help improve the lives of those with it.
I’m no science whizz, but what I gathered is that the retinal cone cells of color blind people respond to light differently than normal. Color blindness doesn’t literally mean completely color blind, but the disability causes color confusions and the inability to tell certain pairs of colors apart. For example, here is a depiction for those without color blindness that shows what it is like to have deutan-type (green-light cells affected) and protan-type (red-light cells) color blindness compared to what an image actually looks like.
So how has technology helped combat this color vision deficiency?
EnChroma is a glasses company that has designed stylish pairs of glasses with lenses that remove particular wavelengths of light where the overlap of colors is occurring for those with color blindness. These glasses give color blind people a chance to see colors properly (as this GIF shows).
According to their website, EnChroma’s glasses can address 4 out of 5 cases of partial color blindness. You can actually take a test on their website to see if you are color blind (http://enchroma.com/test/instructions/).
The reason I remembered EnChroma when I thought of this topic is I saw some viral videos of people being surprised with EnChroma glasses and being able to see color for the first time. If you are emotional, get your tissues ready. The video will automatically start as this man is putting the glasses on, but the whole 5 minutes is worth the watch.
This is one of my favorite videos on YouTube, and it shows the joy EnChroma is bringing to those who once may have thought they would never see color properly.
In 2017, UK-based technology company Spectral Edge unveiled a new 4K Ultra HD version of its Eyeteq content accessibility technology at M-Enabling Summit in Washington D.C. This Eyeteq technology helps those that suffer from color blindness watch TV and see colors how they otherwise would not. The technology first worked for still images and progressed to this point where it works for the highest quality of video. This is an amazing advancement. To show you how difficult it can be to watch TV with color blindness, I’ll give you a fitting example. The Jets played the Bills in 2015 with their color rush uniforms on. If you are not familiar with color rush jerseys, they are basically all one color. The Jets’ jerseys were green, and the Bills’ jerseys were red. You see where I am going with this one…
Here is what the game looked like to most people.
And here is what the game looked like to a lot of people who are red-green color blind.
After hearing about this issue, I don’t take being able to enjoy a game without worrying about not being able to distinguish between two teams for granted (although, as a Jets fan, sometimes I don’t need color to realize the Jets are just the team that hasn’t scored a touchdown). Hopefully companies like EnChroma and Spectral Edge will make unfortunate situations like this a thing of the past.
Before I wrap up this blog, I wanted to share a story about our favorite person to talk about over the last couple of weeks—none other than Mark Zuckerberg. Did you know that Zuckerberg is red-green color blind? Why does that even matter? Well in an interview the man behind Facebook revealed that Facebook’s primary color is blue because, as he said, “…blue is the richest color for me—I can see all of blue.” So the next time you see Facebook’s logo, remember that if Mark Zuckerberg was not color blind or had EnChroma glasses back when he created Facebook, Facebook may have looked like this…